Ford on Obamacare and Boehner

Harold Ford Sr., the former Memphis Congressman and founder of the new Harold Ford Funeral Home, has been in town this week for the formal opening of the new business which we will be writing more about in Tuesday’s edition.
Ford, who now lives in Miami, left Congress at the end of 1996 choosing not to seek re-election and a bit uncertain that he would like becoming a consultant and lobbyist. Now Ford says he will gradually be getting out of that business, remain based in Washington and Miami and build what he hopes will be a group of funeral homes that include crematoriums as well as new types of park-like settings for the urns containing the remains of those who are cremated. The operation features computer links that allow for 24-hour remote viewing of services and even the permanent settings for the urns in the park.
Earlier this year, Ford closed on the shopping center at 1638 Sycamore View and the funeral home will take up the entire center. Ford is in Chicago this weekend to prepare for the opening of the same business there.
It’s a business Ford knows well. He has been in it all of his life. It is the family business through several generations. And he maintained his mortician’s license through out his storied and groundbreaking political career.
So, you can understand us asking his view of what will happen in Washington with the potential government shutdown and the future of Obamacare.
“It’s a tough call for Congress. I think the House just might be silly enough not to pass this. I’m not sure they are going to agree with the Senate. If not, we are headed for a shutdown,” Ford said Friday afternoon as he mentally reviewed where the votes appeared to be in the majority Republican house led by House speaker John Boehner. “I don’t think Boehner can get his votes. If he brings his bill to the floor there are 189 Democrats on the floor. All three of the Republican leaders in the House are in support of passing this and funding Obamacare. They don’t want to fund Obamacare but they are willing to let it go through and not have the government shutdown. So all they need is 25 votes. If Boehner can’t deliver that – what Boehner is really afraid of is that if he puts it on the floor they will get a Republican caucus and vote him out of office. … It’s a tough call for him. But I think he ought to be a statesman even if it costs him his speakership. He’ll go down in history as a brave and great guy.”

The Politics of Ice Cream

Unilever

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Rarely are economic development stories as simple to write as an expansion of an ice cream plant in the summer.
It gets better. The Unilever plant in Covington is in what used to be a SlimFast plant.
“They were fine people. But I just couldn’t get excited about that,” Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said of the SlimFast operation as he segued into the sight of the Klondike Bar machine in the Unilever plant. “You’re in my wheelhouse now.”
Any announcement like this in the summer, come with some apprehension among the group of political leaders and their surrogates who will attend.
They immediately begin preparing for the worst case scenario – a ceremony with at least half a dozen speeches on an open stage in an open field already well baked to remove any memory of any tree that ever offered shade.
A close second is the swamp like atmosphere of a tent – always the best personification of the nature of compromise as defined in politics.
It is the concession to the heat that also acknowledges the heat while magnifying the very results one began the process trying to avoid – a win-win situation.
So Huffman wasn’t the only giddy soul in a suit this week at Unilever when he saw the black carpet pathway leading into the factory.
We’ve targeted before on this blog the cumbersome and archaic political customs that endure 13 years into the 21st century in our local political culture. And these are not customs that are taken lightly if someone on the program leaves off the name of one elected official present who punched a “yes” button instead of a “no” button to vote for the economic development equivalent of being for education and against crime.
But we’ll give it a rest today. After all, it’s not just ice cream. It is what will be the largest ice cream factory in the world in about three years.

About that Cooper Young Festival photo

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You’ve probably seen this photo in several different places in the part of the social media universe that is all things Memphis.

And we are proud to say it is the work of our photographer, Andrew Breig, who went to considerable effort to get the shot of the crowd at the Cooper Young Festival this month.

We’ll leave much of the mystery surrounding how he got the picture in place. But we will assure you no laws were broken. And the jet-pack rumors are without foundation.

It first turned up on Andrew’s blog, memphisjuncture.com, the day he took the photo. The blog includes his other work on his own and with us that you should definitely check out.

But back to the photo. After he put the picture on his blog, the rest is kind of a blur. We put it on our Facebook page as well.

It’s not only turning up in all of the Memphis places on social media, it’s also a hit with Memphis expatriates or anyone with fond memories of our city or the festival or both.

It has really taken on a life of its own even before it turned up Wednesday morning on the Cooper Young Historic District Facebook page with the lead in “I don’t know who took this picture but …”

Radio station Q107.5 invited its Facebook followers to tag people in the picture late Thursday morning.

So far, no Jimmy Hoffas or Johnny Appleseeds tagged although I’m not sure if they can be reached on social media.

Andrew definitely can be reached and we hope this calls attention to his work for us and beyond our pages.

The reaction is also interesting for what is not in the photo. No skyscrapers or monuments of a permanent nature, just a border of tents framing what is the basic element of the reaction we’ve seen to what is a great photo with a simple concept – lots of Memphians being Memphians in close proximity to each other. And, oh yeah, don’t mess with our trees either.

Where Politics Begins

There is a common theme among successful politicians I have covered. It is the event that many of them have said defines the start of their ambition to run for elected office.

It’s not a first race they might have made for City Council or Congress or a judicial position.

Nope. Ask a successful politician about his or her origins and in many cases they will tell you about the time they ran for class president or something else in high school or college.

Add Cong. Steve Cohen to the list with this article in “Roll Call.”

We also came across this phenomenon earlier in writing a piece about Karl Schledwitz, the CEO of Monogram Foods who, while not a candidate, worked in many, many Democratic campaigns over the decades.

Schledwitz recently spoke at the weekly meeting of the Frayser Exchange Club and began by noting that Shelly Rice, the president of the club, had been his campaign manager when he ran for student government office the first time at Trezevant High School.

He lost and all these years later playfully put the blame on his campaign manager, noting that with a different manager, the next year, he was elected.

Fellow students, it turns out, are an early test of political prowess when you think about it. There is the intensity of a campaign that is probably magnified because it’s not an electorate that you can dodge. They and your opponent are face to face every day in a relatively small space. Not only is every action you take immediately visible to your rival, you feel every action your rival takes immediately as well.

It is pretty relentless as campaigns go and its intensity is further magnified by the shortened campaign time.

Sounds like a pretty good crucible for those who think politics is for them.

 

World’s Worst Social Media Top 20 List

 

Here we go again. Another day, another list.

Not sure what media entity put this together but it is part of a collection of similar lists that apparently we can’t resist clicking on. It is part of a catalog that includes “Tattoo Do’s and Don’ts”, “MORE Hot Chicks With Tattoos”, “Insane Man Caves” and “More WTF Tattoos!”

The “20 most dangerous neighborhoods in America” which has two sites in Memphis and one in West Memphis should probably also double as one of the 20 worst lists in America as well … with or without tattoos.

Consider: Downtown Memphis is #12. Of course this is a slide show. And when you get to Downtown Memphis you will see as the photo with this entry – because a list is nothing without the photo – the Memphis Police Association billboard reading “Danger enter at your own risk.” “This city does not support public safety.”

The paragraph that goes with all of this says that the 38126 zip code has a violent crime rate of 67.26 per 1,000 residents. No source given for the statistic or why the zip code for South Memphis is used in a listing for Downtown Memphis, which is 38103 and 38105.

The same zip code shows up in the #15 entry for the Gaston Park section of Memphis but with a different violent crime rate of 82.9 per 1,000 residents.

The photo to go with Gaston Park shows a photo from The Commercial Appeal of the demolition of the Cleaborn Homes public housing development with a back hoe visible.

“When homes in a neighborhood are allowed to look like the one pictured here, you know it must be a very bad area,” the entry reads without mentioning the backhoe in the picture just rammed the rather sizeable hole in the side of the brick building because it is being demolished and nobody lives there anymore – because it is being demolished. Did I add that it is being demolished. Because I don’t want to forget to add that it is being demolished.

There is one interesting statistic in this entry, however, which is useful if it is true.

“17 percent of its residents travel more than an hour to get to work which is the longest commute rate in the entire country.”

That sounds distinctly like a commute rate on the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

 

 

 

Dansette

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