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Consolidation: The Details

Our thanks to Smart City for a shout out about our continuing coverage of the consolidation issue and the mechanics of the metro charter.
It has been a lot of coverage of what we feel is the most significant quest for consolidation in nearly 40 years and we’ve done our best to provide coverage that does justice to the complexity of the charter and of the history and culture of all sides of the debate about the charter and consolidation in general.
It’s always nice to be recognized for hard work.
Our regular Friday series on different sections of the charter will continue right up to the last Friday before the Nov. 2 election and now we have a federal lawsuit to add to the consolidation events we are covering.
Some readers have sought copies of all of the Friday series. They are all available on line free at our website http://www.memphisdailynews.com

Here is the schedule including what has run and what is still to run:

Aug. 27: Taxes and Finance

Sept. 3: The Mayor

Sept. 10: The Council

Sept. 17: The Bureaucracy

Sept. 24: The Courts

Oct. 1: Ethics

Oct. 8: The Transition

Oct. 15: Schools

Oct. 22: Elections

Oct. 29: The Rest

Once the votes are counted and the decision is made, we expect there will be no shortage of fallout to cover no matter which way the vote goes.
Stick with us, keep the emails coming and thanks again to Smart City for the recognition that we hope brings more people to our doorstep for the best information on a complex and compelling issue.

Bicyclists going against traffic

As someone who rides a bicycle on a weekly basis, I think it’s wonderful that Memphis is finally becoming a more bicycle friendly city.
The new trails are great, and I hope to see bike lanes on city streets soon. But I don’t think we in Memphis know enough about bike safety. I’m talking about adults here.
Case in point: When about to make a right-hand turn this morning, I encountered a bicyclist going the wrong way against traffic.
This occurred at a corner where a wall blocked visibility. Luckily, the bicyclist turned the corner seconds before I did, and I was driving slowly enough to avoid a collision. The bicyclist was not even wearing a helmet, but I doubt a helmet would have given much protection had a head-on collision occurred.
I Googled for bicycle safety rules this morning and came across a website with some great safety tips. Check out bicyclesafe.com for tips on “How to Not Get Hit by Cars.”

Hometown Banks and their Piece of the Pie

The three largest banks based in Memphis are, in descending order, First Tennessee, Independent Bank and Magna Bank.

First Tennessee owns about one-third of all customer bank deposits in Memphis. But while $1 out of every $3 in Memphis bank accounts is parked at a First Tennessee Branch, Independent and Magna enjoy a different trend.

Their deposit bases are growing at a strong clip.

From June 2009 to June 2010, according to numbers released by the FDIC this week, Independent Bank’s Memphis customer deposits rose from $581.3 million to $686.5 million.

Magna Bank’s Memphis customer deposits rose from $328.9 million to $342.26 million.

Read the full FDIC market share report here.

The Election Lawsuit That Got Away

As you may have seen in on our online edition, Chancellor Arnold Goldin has dismissed the challenge of the Aug. 5 election results by 10 candidates who lost in that set of county elections.

We’ll be talking more about this on Friday’s edition of “Behind The Headlines” on WKNO.

We’ve also fixed a quote in the online version of the story in Friday’s edition of The Daily News that we didn’t catch for the print edition.

It’s a quote from Bill Giannini, Shelby County Election Commission chairman who said the commission will do a more thorough job of training employees and “certainly a higher level of training.” Training” is the correct word instead of “employees” which was in the original version. Big difference.

Giannini said some lessons will be applied as a result of the court case and the issues it raised. He points out that the Election Commission hires 1,500 temporary workers to run the elections from the early voting sites to over 200 election day precincts.

Some have been doing this for a long time. Some have probably been doing the job too long based on their move to turn away voters at the first sign of a dispute over who had already voted and who had not. It’s a problem voters have encountered before where long time polling officials run their polls by their own rules regardless of changes in laws and technology. The lawsuit just may call more attention to the problem and has the potential to signal a sea change in that regard.

It’s not easy getting citizens involved in the election day mechanics. No one makes anything close to a living just off working elections. It’s not intended as a full time job.

Here are a few other points.

This is the same outcome as the court challenge four years ago involving the same election cycle and the same set of offices.

The problems cited then were different. This challenge of the election results was much more technical. It got more into the mechanics of how our elections are conducted. The 2006 court challenge was built to a large degree on anecdotal information from voters, candidates and campaign workers who claimed voting totals suddenly shifted toward the end of the election night vote count.

The earlier challenge was easier to dismiss, in part, because that is the nature of how vote totals come in after the polls close. It is not a flow of numbers that build gradually. The vote totals jump in the blink of an eye and in that blink leads can and do change in races.

The challenge dismissed by Goldin this week came with its own problems. Those problems were theories that can quickly rum amok with possibilities and motives.

The theories attract legions of citizens who are experts in theories from other elections but not necessarily experts with practical or academic experience in running elections.

Goldin ruled earlier this week that two of the three witnesses the plaintiffs considered experts were “sorely lacking” in qualifications.

The third witness, who did testify at the trial, was former Seattle elections superintendent Julie Anne Kempf, who knows a thing or two about election controversies and the underlying issue in the Shelby County election challenge – the human element.

Kempf focused on what happened with the mechanics of the Shelby County election and the confrontations that followed election day as the plaintiffs tried to examine machinery and data records as the commission tried to certify the results.

Kempf lost her job as elections superintendent in Seattle in 2003 over the late mailing of thousands of absentee ballots. The superintendent’s job was an appointed position. But in the aftermath of the controversy, it became an elected position, a change that Kempf campaigned for before running for the position. She lost.

How’s This for Mayoral Engagement?

This is definitely not the level of mayoral engagement out of City Hall Memphis is used to.

I noticed Mayor Wharton using his Facebook page today to encourage his FB followers to also follow Pinnacle Airlines and “let them know how excited we are that they are coming to Downtown Memphis!”

If you want to do something besides follow them on Twitter, head down to One Commerce Square Friday morning. An event that will have the feel of a block party has been planned. There will be cheerleaders, a drumline, the Beale Street Flippers, and much more.

Go here for more info.

Dansette

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