Mayor Mania

Republican nominee for governor Bill Haslam is in Memphis for the day meeting with local mayors. He had a 45 minutes session Thursday morning with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor elect Mark Luttrell. There is also a separate session with the six suburban mayors in Bartlett. Haslam is the mayor of Knoxville.

Maybe it’s a sign of too much time following politicians around, but it was kind of fun to begin a question with “Mayor …” and watch Haslam and Wharton momentarily try to figure out which one was getting the question and Luttrell’s delay of a few seconds as he gets used to the title.

The Wharton and Luttrell session at City Hall covered a lot of ground according to the trio, who talked with reporters after the meeting.

At the top of the list for Wharton and Luttrell was jobs, specifically a governor who will help the mayors compete with towns and cities in North Mississippi who have been helped greatly in recent years by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

“The leader being personally engaged makes a difference,” Haslam said when asked about Barbour’s technique. “I’ve talked to a lot of companies here that have said, ‘Haley Barbour himself called me on the phone.’ And it got their attention. And they weren’t really big companies.”

But Haslam was careful not to criticize outgoing Tn. Gov. Phil Bredesen, saying the state of Tennessee is doing a good job now.

“If that means spending a lot of time on the phone or visiting people, you bet I will.”

Although Bredesen has endorsed Democratic nominee Mike McWherter, Haslam and even his rivals in the Republican primary, have been hesitant to criticize his fiscally conservative leadership of the state for the last eight years.

Haslam didn’t get nor did he seek any endorsements during the City Hall session. Wharton, a Democrat, has already endorsed McWherter.

McWherter, as we reported last week, has told local business leaders he is ready to do what Barbour has done on the other side of the state line – get personally involved in the competition for jobs.

McWherter also criticized Haslam for refusing to commit to an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs across the state. McWherter said the expansion of pre-k availability is central to improving education across the state with early intervention that is less costly than trying to make up ground later in a student’s path through school.

Haslam says it a legitimate difference between the two contenders. He does not believe pre-k programs should be expanded and should remain at the level they are now.

“I don’t think we have the money right to expand pre k. We’re a billion plus (dollars) in the hole,” he said. “So we use this period of time to evaluate. See how we’re doing. When revenue comes back, we have a list of things that are worthy of being discussed and pursued.”

Where are those eggs from?

Watch out for the smell of rotten eggs on garbage day.
People are tossing their cartons in the can because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered the recall of 380 million eggs due to possible salmonella contamination.
Tennessee is one of the states where health officials are investigating salmonella poisoning, but the eggs were shipped nationwide.
The FDA has released a list of the brand names involved. One of the companies on that list, Dutch Farms, issued a statement Wednesday saying that eggs were packaged in its cartons at an Iowa farm without its authorization and sent to Walgreens in seven states, including Arkansas.
The FDA has issued guidance about the recall. Read the information at:
www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/WhatsNewinFood/ucm222684.htm
The timing of the recall might make a just-released report from the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention better reading. That report provides a broad overview of food poisoning incidents during 2007. Nearly 1,100 outbreaks occurred that year.
Read the CDC report at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/.

No Parking

The Center City Commission wants to get serious about enforcing the no-parking rule for cars along the Main Street Mall.

It’s so serious, CCC president Paul Morris – in looking at records surrounding the Downtown group’s establishment – discovered he has the power to write parking tickets for violators of the no parking on the mall rule.

Now that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey won’t be the Republican nominee for Tennessee governor, maybe Paul can co-opt Ramsey’s “We’ll give them the boot” slogan.

Tennessee’s Deal-Making Senator

At a lunchtime address Friday to a group of businesspeople at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker recalled his background as a businessman (he used to own a construction company and develop commercial real estate) and his stint as Tennessee’s commissioner of finance.

Finance – whether on Wall Street or Main Street – excites him. It’s in his blood.

Which is why he told the group, “I still get perspiration on my upper lip when I hear about a great deal.”

The Employment Picture is Probably Worse Than you Think

Here’s an awfully frightening chart from the Brookings Institution on the dismal state of the nation’s jobs market.

We all know what the (obvious) problem is. Enough new jobs aren’t being added or created to make up for the millions lost during the recession. The Brookings chart below is built around the assumption of a specific “jobs gap” – a phrase that denotes how many jobs need to be created to include both the regular year-in, year-out additions to the labor market as well as the level of job creation that needs to happen to get us back to where we used to be before the recession.

The chart below assumes a jobs gap of 11.3 million.

The big takeaway from this: it will take the economy more than 140 months (eleven years) to burn through that jobs gap if future growth continues at a rate of 208,000 jobs per month.

And that’s a wild if. Private sector job growth in July?

71,000.

Sort of puts in perspective the city of Memphis’ intense lobbying efforts to keep Pinnacle from moving hundreds of jobs to Mississippi. In addition to all the other economic development initiatives Memphis and Shelby County need to be pursuing.

Dansette

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