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VOL. 7 | NO. 35 | Saturday, August 23, 2014

Editorial: Recent Events Underscore Unraveling in Memphis

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There are times when it feels like Memphis is unraveling. And this is one of those times.

A sense of powerlessness returns in what has been a resurgence in hope and good vibrations about our city in recent years.

Maybe that’s a balance returning to the civic barometer to keep us from denying the necessity of continuing to push for change especially when there is cause for hope in other aspects of all things Memphis.

Hope and good thoughts followed by persistence have taken us around a corner. But our long-term leadership crisis that can't even accomplish something as simple as paving streets on something less than a 90-year cycle without a major change in the priorities of local government continues to feel like a push back around the corner.

If meetings solved problems, Memphis would be paradise.

A dozen shootings, too many of which involve children, seem beyond the capacity of the largest division of city government by employees and budget – the Memphis Police Department.

In our desire of several years now to move to a broader philosophy than just Blue CRUSH, we find our law enforcement is too often surprised and left with few alternatives when a show of force or crackdown doesn't last as a response.

Memphis is not Ferguson, Mo. But in the images of the last two weeks from Ferguson we see too much that is familiar and entirely possible in a city whose philosophy on crime and violence, the historic sentinels guarding our past from a different future, is adrift. It’s adrift in a sea of platitudes, hopes and a false sense of security that our civic leaders seem to confuse with what their real obligation is.

Order is not peace. Silence is not consent. And dissent or expression with any kind of edge is not disorder or disrespect.

Payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) programs are the main weapon in our economic development arsenal. Yet when Cummins Inc. considers taking its considerable operation across the state line to DeSoto or Marshall County, our leaders head for Nashville to plead for even more in the way of incentives because PILOTs aren't enough.

No one else in the state uses PILOTs more than we do. Yet we continue to be surprised and mount whirlwind efforts to save what we have. And what we get beyond that is much smaller in terms of jobs than other communities.

Pursuing an increase in local and minority business participation in the local economy where minorities are the majority can’t find a way around time-consuming, tedious and meaningless studies that verify what past studies have already confirmed in the way of what we all knew.

We are clinging to solutions that don’t work because they don’t work better than any other solutions in our limited horizon where our efforts meet the lethargy and limited range of those we have elected.

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