Phyllis Betts comments about yesterday’s post about the looming housing crisis spotlighted by Brad Watkins of Peace and Justice Center:
There is an immediate crisis that needs to be dealt with now. Perhaps through a public-private problem-solving summit that will marshal resources to find housing for these families NOW. Peace and Justice can continue to work on longer term issues and help individually displaced families, but the entire housing sector needs to be mobilized to take advantage of high vacancy rates in some B and C class apartments that are nevertheless more acceptable than where displaced residents have been living. Establish a fund to clear up MLGW acreages and cover deposits, set up future payment plants with credit/budget support, etc. The reason it took so long to rule against Global is the long-standing policy to not put people on the street. So that hurdle has been jumped, and longer term tenant rights strategies must be accompanied by some creative short term problem-solving. Who will convene and have the resources for immediate implementation of a strategy?
The following are comments about City Council’s Unilateral Intervention into the Greensward Parking Issue:
This quote, written byTim Jancelewics over in the Memphis Flyer comments section says it best:
“The 100 year-old Greensward and Overton were modeled by George Kessler after Central Park. The Greensward is the heart of the park, like the Great Lawn in Central Park. To cover it with cars is a blow to civic pride, and moves Memphis backwards.
“Improving Memphis’s biggest problems will take a lot more than protecting our parks, but respect for our most cherished assets and beautification of public green spaces are key components to moving a city forward and out of a blight-ridden state.
“Parking cars in the middle of our finest public park is a perfect metaphor for the lack of vision our city’s leaders have for the future. It is a lazy, short-sighted, and selfish move that should not have been made. I thought we were better than that.”
I can only use one word to describe observing yesterday’s debacle at the City Council in person: Demoralizing! 300 citizens rush down to a last-minute, unpublicized, possibly illegal, yet certainly underhanded vote at City Council to destroy one of the crown jewels of Memphis. These citizens took time from work, home, or their day off to plead with the council to not destroy Overton Park with parking on the Greensward. The council chambers were full of angry citizens against this bill!
Only two (2) people spoke in favor of destroying the Greensward at Overton Park (one of whom was a disgraced former City Council person indicted for bribery charges).
City Council and city council attorney brought race into an issue that has nothing to do with race. And the person who was supposed to represent the area being destroyed (Councilman Morgan) was wisely too embarrassed to put his name on the bill and too inexperienced to represent his district. Then every council person (except Councilman Jones) voted against progress for the city including Councilman Morgan!
This council does not bode well for solving problems and progressing Memphis in the next four years for Memphis. This was embarrassing on a local and national level!
I cannot believe I am typing this, but it makes me nostalgic for the 1960’s freeway proposal.
Reid Hedgepeth and Worth Morgan are wonderful examples that younger does not equate to an increased likelihood of deviating from the “good ole boy” mold. The same pattern that sees democracy as an inconvenience and the council as a path to enforce the will of their donors and friends. What I do find amusing is that Morgan stated at least once during his campaign his desire to create a city that would attract millennials. Of course, he has now acted in a way that is quite the opposite. In fact, I have doubts he understands any of the characteristics that define this coveted group of young adults.
Morgan has proven himself just as incompetent and ignorant as any other member of the council. So sad to see “leadership” that is so myopic in their view and actions. Small, pathetic and decidedly provincial. No doubt if Worth and Hedgepeth were able to formulate their own independent thoughts, they would no doubt defend their actions with the tired cliché of “…this ain’t (fill in the blank city), this is Memphis and this is just how things are done ‘round here…”.
It would be a bit extreme, but perhaps the times justify the actions: in a world of infinite possibilities, should we enact new regulations regarding who may qualify to serve on the Memphis City Council?
Specifically, I question if anyone who attended both high school and college in Memphis and/or has never resided in any other city beyond a 150 mile radius for less than 1 year should be banned from running for a council position. Ridiculous I know, but the insular nature of these locally connected and paid for representatives and their inability to change the city’s trajectory is equally absurd. What I have yet to determine is if their actions are benignly idiotic (ignorance meets incompetence) or if their actions result from a type of willful stupidity.
As I watched and listened to the council meeting yesterday, I witnessed a number of citizens speak on behalf of preserving parkland in one of America’s Great Parks.
Following public speakers supporting the Greensward, Barbara Swearengen Holt, speaking on behalf of the Zoo, seemed to want door-to-door service directly to the gates of the Zoo, claiming, “People will not park blocks away or be shuttled, no matter how much they love the Zoo.” I could not help but be reminded of her time while serving on council, when she had a telephone installed in the ladies’ room at City Hall.
Rev. DeAndre Brown argued poor communities are denied access …and this is caused by a parking problem? I can only think he meant on crowded days, poor people could not visit the Zoo because of a lack of parking space. For me, it was difficult to determine and understand how the issue before us, looking for solutions to preserve the Greensward and solve the parking problem at the Zoo, had become a race issue denying access due to crowded parking.
To continue the race bait, council attorney, Allen Wade, presented (and lobbied) that 16% of those attending Zoo free Tuesdays were mostly African Americans from poor neighborhoods.
None of it seemed relevant to the issue of finding a solution to the parking overflow on the Greensward. (other than “acknowledgment”, and perhaps more free days and free parking on those days at the Zoo…the Zoo charges $5 parking on all days).
But, I want to look back to the 16% Wade spoke about. The percentage is from a high poverty demographic who visit the Zoo on free days. It was just a month ago the Vice Chair of the Zoo board, said this, “The Zoo has looked at all possible options for expanding parking on its grounds and within other areas in or near Overton Park. We have explored costs of a parking garage — which does not make sense given the millions it would cost to build and the fact that it would sit empty nearly 300 days out of the year.”
This means there are only 7-8 free Tuesdays a year that fall within the “busy” Zoo days when parking overflows. This leaves approximately 48 free Tuesdays when parking is not a problem. The ploy, by council, to throw race into this very important issue was a complete ruse. What a disappointment!