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Reconsidering Surrender?

Lots of questions in the coming days now that the Memphis City Schools board has approved a charter surrender. We’ll be tracking down all of them.

One that popped up among the parliamentary minded overnight was whether the board could undo this at its next meeting in January when it approves the minutes of the Dec. 20 meeting.

The board that meets in January will be different. Sara Lewis becomes the new district six commissioner replacing Sharon Webb, who was one of the five yes votes for the charter surrender. Five votes were required to pass the resolution.

Lewis was among those who spoke at Monday night’s meeting as a citizen. She doesn’t think the board should have acted. Lewis favored a “stand down” that would have involved more public hearings. And she argued that the school system and its students were “hostages in a crisis.”

Even if Lewis were inclined to move to reconsider the school board decision at the first meeting in January, she couldn’t. She did not vote on the prevailing side.

And the other four yes votes for the charter surrender are considered solid.

Martavius Jones and Tomeka Hart have been the most outspoken and as a result the most tested by the political crossfire surrounding the controversy.

Stephanie Gatewood made up her mind a bit later. But she said Monday evening that she has been threatened politically as she runs for the state House district 89 seat in the Jan. and March special elections. Despite that, she declared for the charter surrender boldly saying it was a decision the school system should have made 39 to 40 years ago.

Patrice Robinson was the crucial fifth vote who didn’t come on board publicly until the meeting was underway. When she did, the veteran board member was calm and solid.

“What would this accomplish?” she asked repeatedly about the three year stand down with a study of school district boundaries under special school district status and what a consolidated school system might look like. “I don’t think we need another study. We need action.”

After the stand down and study backed by board member Jeff Warren failed, she began “I think everybody had a valid point.”

“It should be in the hands of the citizens,” she added. “This is a great opportunity for us to get this to the public.”

The four yes votes left on the board appear unshakable and comfortable with their decisions.

Sometimes in a situation like this, a vote from the other side will switch and vote with the prevailing side in order to be able to move for reconsideration. That didn’t happen this time.

In Their Words: More from MULYP

Surrounded by a panoramic view of the city lights from the 33rd floor of the Clark Tower, 300 Memphians gathered Friday night to honor outstanding young minority professionals during the inaugural MULYP Agents of Change Awards Gala.

Here’s what several of the attendees had to say about the event and about Memphis Urban League Young Professionals’ plans for 2011.

“I think it bodes well for our future. It means that they have not fallen into the ‘Memphis is not going to change; let’s just get out of here.’ They’re saying it is going to change and we have as much responsibility as our elders do. It’s just great. I recognize full well I am not in office for the sake of longevity…what it means to me is that I could leave today and know that our city is in great hands.”

– Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.

“The 2010 Inaugural Agents of Change Awards Gala was truly a humbling experience for me because I was in a room among the many unsung heroes of our city. This year, MULYP’s retiring board decided to step outside our norm and present an event that captured the successes of young, minority professionals in the city of Memphis. MULYP saw a void and took the initiative to do something that has never been done in our city before and the outcome was an overwhelming success. The event will only continue to grow and bring more recognition to the efforts of our city’s most valuable asset – young professionals – and I look forward to the continued support of this community.”

– Lori Spicer, MULYP President – Elect, Community Affairs Manager at The MED

“I’d like to see the organization grow, not only in memberships, but in its efforts of things we’re doing outside in the community. We have a lot of members with excellent ideas. Because of the size of the group right now, we don’t have all the support we’d like sometimes, but with increased membership, you have an opportunity to see other people join and people’s passions come alive. Mine is health care.”

– Jonathan Watkins, MULYP Member, Methodist Hospital North Assistant Administrator

“For our initiatives going into 2011, we’re going to focus more on youth development and addressing the educational challenges that we face. We’re very focused on health literacy and advocacy for young professionals – particularly in the African American community – and workforce and economic development.”

– Tarrin McGhee, MULYP President, Common Ground Director

“The position that I’m taking on is the chair of the youth mentoring and development committee, and in doing that, we’ll work with students who go to the Urban League and get assistance, and we’ll also be working with Project Ready. Some of my goals for the upcoming year are to go out and have a certain amount of volunteer service hours for the students and to definitely incorporate some kind of mentoring component with other young professionals throughout the community.”

– Christina Watkins, Incoming MULYP Board Member, Le Bonheur Community Outreach Specialist

Tanner’s Farewell

U.S. Rep. John Tanner has given a farewell address of sorts from the House floor and in the Congressional Record.

Tanner leaves at the end of this month after more than two decades in Congress. Representing a conservative mostly rural district that includes Frayser, Millington and parts of northern Shelby County, Tanner came to Washington from service in the Tennessee legislature at the start of the first Bush presidency.

He leaves with concerns about the strength of the political center and the coming reapportionment of Congress.

Here are his remarks from the floor on Dec. 17 in their entirety.

Madam Speaker, it has been a true privilege for Betty Ann and me to represent Tennessee’s 8th district in this chamber for the past 22 years, and we will always be grateful to the people of west and middle Tennessee who have given us the chance to do so. We now look forward to the transition from our role in Congress to that of private citizens, often said to be the highest office in our country.


Following the Constitutional Convention, Madam Speaker, a citizen asked Benjamin Franklin what that important body had created, and he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” At the heart of this governmental model, public officials represent first and foremost the people who elect them.


I worry that our government is in danger of becoming more of a parliamentary system, where elected officials represent first and foremost their political parties. That is not what our founding fathers intended when they established this great nation, and it is not the right approach for our nation going forward.


The American people, by and large, do not reside in the extreme left wing or in the extreme right wing. They are solution-minded citizens who want their elected representatives to work together to address the problems that face us as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans.


Unfortunately, the current political system, especially following decades of partisan gerrymandering with more to come in the year ahead, does little to incentivize such cooperation. Consequently, the political center in our representative government has been decimated, resulting in a great disservice to the American people.


Many of us certainly understand and share the angst the American people feel in a time of economic uncertainty, two wars, a seemingly insurmountable federal debt and ongoing concerns over homeland security.


These are complex problems that cannot be solved with bumper-sticker solutions, over-simplified soundbites and combative rhetoric. They require cooperation among thoughtful individuals who will put their district and country first.


To address these problems and restore the faith in our republic, those inside and outside government must be willing to extend to one who disagrees the same purity of motive and intellectual honesty one claims for oneself.


That is necessary, Madam Speaker, if we are to keep our republic.


Thank you.

Natalie Portman is not a Black Swan …

… Even though she plays the lead in “Black Swan,” which opens in Memphis today at Malco’s Ridgeway 4.

“Black swan” also is a label economists use to describe a rare, hard-to-predict but high-impact event.

A good example is the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

What’s interesting about such events is that even though black swans are so rare, economists will frequently argue they can be used to explain and understand almost everything important about the development of the world.

The Internet. The personal computer. The mortgage meltdown. September 11.

All of them were black swans, but despite the way they seemed to come from out of nowhere, all of them have transformed the world in far bigger ways than things that are easier to understand and more predictable.

A local example: I would argue the election of Willie Herenton in 1991 by a razor-thin margin was a black swan event. The forecasters would have told you no way was it going to happen, but it did, and it had a profound effect on the future of Memphis.

Electrolux Virtual Kitchen

As you may have seen by now, Electrolux is building a major plant in Memphis. The company is investing $190 million to build a 700,000-square-foot plant that will manufacture ovens and other products in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park.

Electrolux has a cool virtual kitchen set up on their Website that lets you play around with it.

Click the image below.

Dansette

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