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VOL. 131 | NO. 104 | Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Graduation Day and Our Outrage, An ASD Offer In Raleigh and Fashion

By Bill Dries

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According to Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson, 15,000 people have watched the several dozen high school graduation ceremonies the school system has streamed live on its website including the 14 graduations held Saturday.

The audience included relatives in other cities and countries who aren’t able to make it to Memphis for the milestones.

While we are on the subject of graduations, the class of 2016 of Booker T. Washington High School will be among those doing the honors this coming weekend.

And that ceremony is quickly becoming a touchstone of sorts for reaction to the violent death this past Saturday of Myneshia Johnson who would have been part of that class.

Johnson was shot and fatally wounded early Sunday morning at Second and Peabody Place Downtown.

There is so much surfacing in terms of reaction to so many parts of this that it’s hard to know where to begin.

What has become the usual response of meetings, vigils and calls for more programs and similar responses seems to heighten the sense of powerlessness many feel.

But how do you condemn actions that are someone’s way of trying to find a way through such a trauma?

Closure is a myth. And time doesn’t heal completely. But you can’t impose an answer where there is none for now and make it fit in time for the funeral, especially when you don’t know who you are talking about.

Outrage, it turns out, doesn’t have a common variety. And it’s not okay to turn it around and use it on the victim for not being the perfect object.

At times like this, outrage seems really only valid when it’s personal.

Alisha Kiner, the principal of BTW, got an email from someone Tuesday objecting to the idea that Johnson’s one-year son would walk across the stage Saturday to accept her diploma.

The person told Kiner that Johnson “probably should have been home” caring for the child.

The email was also critical of “the attitude and culture of the inner city youth.”

Kiner took exception in a Facebook post that quickly went viral.

“I had my first college degree and had been married for some years before I had my daughter, and, even I went out every now and then – without my child,” Kiner wrote. “How is it that you know that my student was an irresponsible parent, again?”

“You have NO idea how hard my student was working to overcome every single obstacle in her life. She worked a job every day, she kept her OWN baby (we had to ask her if we could keep him),” Kiner added. “She played on the basketball team, she did well in all of her Honor’s classes, she kept up with her younger siblings and made them come to school, and, most importantly, she NEVER missed one day of school. There are other issues that she had to deal with that I refuse to share, but just know that I know a whole slew of adults who would be in an insane asylum if they had to live with one tenth of her issues.”

Wednesday is the day the Shelby County Schools system leaders and Shelby County Commissioners get together and talk about county funding for the school system’s budget proposal.

We set the stage for the discussion with comments both sets of leaders have made separately on this. The interaction will be about repeating some of these points. There will also be some new points.

Meanwhile, Hopson told the board he has had a most unusual offer from the Achievement School District about the middle school in Raleigh the ASD is scheduled to take over in August at the start of the new school year. More precisely, that a charter company will take over for the ASD.

The state-run school district is offering to instead collaborate with SCS on making Raleigh Egypt Middle School an Innovation Zone school – that is the SCS turnaround model for schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide in terms of student achievement.

The school board took no votes Tuesday evening as they learned about this at a work session but there was a lot of wariness.

More movement Wednesday in the exodus of the president of the Church Health Center from the institution in a sort of public but not very specific “difference of philosophy” with the center’s founder.

Antony Sheehan is becoming a senior advisor to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. His duties at Methodist will include helping develop its primary care safety net program.

On a larger scale, Sheehan’s exit is part of a lot of change in the city’s medical and healthcare community in the last few years.

AutoZone’s string is broken. For 39 quarters, the Memphis-based auto parts retailer has posted double-digit earnings per share – until Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call with analysts and investotrs.

The company is blaming bad weather for missing expectations which its competitors have also cited in their earnings reports as well.

Former Memphis City Council member Myron Lowery goes back to Columbus, Ohio to talk about the demolition of Poindexter Village, a public housing development that has been demolished. And Lowery brings some of this city’s experience with public housing with him.

This comes via Columbus Monthly and its blog.

From the Crossville Chronicle, a guest column from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on that wind farm he opposes.

A pop-up shop on the southern end of the Main Street Mall has about another week in its location there. A dozen fashion and jewelry designers have stocked the shop and there is an incubator in the basement where the designers are working to turn this into something more permanent when May turns to June.

And the effort is next door to another business that has found its way – the Majestic Grille, which Tuesday evening celebrated its 10th anniversary in the old Majestic movie theater where you can still see Gloria Swanson and Bette Davis and Walter Pidgeon.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751