“Sir, I knew Andy Holt. Andy Holt was a friend of mine. You’re no Andy Holt.”
The legendary putdown by Lloyd Bentsen of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debates came to mind during the past session of the Tennessee Legislature when the aforenamed Andy Holt, right wing Dresden legislator, came up with the idea of allowing guns on college campuses. In the process, he attacked Bartlett legislator Jim Coley for the audacity to question the wisdom of the latest bill to make guns more ubiquitous in Tennessee than common sense.
The “real” Andy Holt must be turning over in his grave. He was the much-respected late president of University of Tennessee, and undoubtedly would have joined the state’s colleges and universities in vigorously opposing the Legislature’s latest gun bill that would again undermine the public safety. President Holt guided UT from 1959 to 1970 when enrollment of the university increased threefold. Previously, he was executive secretary of Tennessee Education Association, a career path as unimaginable today as the logic of guns becoming the litmus test for conservativism.
Shelby County School board members appear reluctant to allow home-schooled students to participate in its sports programs, and that’s exactly the right response. Parents who home-school have every right to do what they think is best for their children, but in making the decisions, they decide to separate themselves from public schools. That includes sports programs. To give them access makes no more sense that allowing students in a private school to participate in county athletics programs.
School Board member David Reaves, during the discussion about the issue, said: “I’m split on this one. I am a big supporter of home school(ing).” That’s good to know, and we hope he’ll resign as a public school board member and work in the home schooling network of parents instead.
Speaking of Shelby County Schools, it is abandoning the 75-year-old school, now used as a middle school, that is a fixture in “old Collierville.” It is further abandonment of the historic town core that is just as damaging as if it’s happening in downtown Memphis, because it undermines the town’s historic character and authenticity.
The district superintendent, I mean, board chairman, David Pickler said the historic school building had outlived its usefulness in an era of computers. Strangely, Memphis City Schools has more than a dozen schools older than 75 years that have been wired for today’s instruction. Stranger still, the University of Memphis will occupy the old school and looks to expand the 1,300 students it now teaches at another location in Collierville.
Shelby County Schools, rather than renovate the historic school, will spend $12-15 million to build a new middle school.
The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau said recently that Memphis has 10 million visitors every year. That would be about 27,400 people every day coming to Memphis.
The crowds coming to downtown Memphis to see the flooding of the Mississippi River were the biggest we’ve seen in years, and it was still only a small portion of that daily average. When it comes to facts in Memphis, many of them – especially those connected to economic development – defy credulity, and we are left to wonder why reality isn’t good enough. As a prominent downtown developer said to us, “We pay people a lot of money to lie to us and tell us what we want to hear.”
We’re thinking that Family Dollar Store may have gotten its name because that’s how much it spends to erect its flimsy buildings.
At a time when city and county officials talk about the positive impact of the Unified Development Code, it takes some of the luster off of it when these low quality buildings are allowed to sprout up all over Memphis. Eight new stores are planned by the end of summer, and one will be a blotch on the Poplar corridor near the main library.
Chris Douglas-Roberts was always our favorite basketball player at University of Memphis. Our admiration for him only grew when after the killing of Osama bin Laden, he tweeted questions about whether the number of deaths in the MidEast and the cost of war made sense.
When criticism rained down on him, he said that apparently athletes shouldn’t have opinions and that he is blessed with thick skin. His tweets indicated that he was also blessed with a brain that he’s not afraid to use.
Mimeo.com recently got an eight-year tax freeze amounting to about $900,000. Undoubtedly, the approval of the PILOT is celebrated by economic development officials as a win for Memphis and Shelby County, but we wonder if there’s ever going to be a day when a headline says that a company is expanding in Memphis because we have the quality of life and workforce where they want to be.