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Commission Weighs Ban On Meeting Tweets

Shelby County commissioners will settle this on Monday. But in committee sessions Wednesday morning there was a pretty lively debate about a proposed ban on tweeting during commission meetings.

Commissioner Terry Roland proposed the ban on that and the use of laptops and similar devices by commissioners.

And he cited a tweet several weeks ago from the commission’s leading and pioneering tweeter, Mike Carpenter.

Carpenter’s tweets during commission sessions have become a political staple with occasional controversy.

That was the case in October when during a debate over an ordinance to ban the roadside sale of animals, Carpenter tweeted an exchange between Roland and Commissioner Wyatt Bunker. Roland, who is from Millington, had a question about selling pit bull dogs. Bunker joked “Don’t they eat those in Millington?”

The tweet took on a life of its own outside the commission including some outrage expressed by Millington Mayor Richard Hodges leading to Roland’s proposal.

Carpenter was chairing the committee session but didn’t comment. Meanwhile, he was tweeting:

“Discussing anti tweeting resolution. I’m tweeting as a protest.”

Roland said he wasn’t trying to “shut down freedom of speech.”

“If you want to tweet, you can go outside to do it or wait until after the meeting is over,” he said. “I think we need to pay attention to what we are doing.”

Commissioner Henri Brooks called the measure a “kindergarten approach to conducting meetings.”

“I can walk and chew gum,” she added.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy called the resolution “micromanagement” that goes too far.

“I think it was Voltaire who said, ‘I may disagree with what you tweet, but I will defend with my life your right to tweet it,’” he offered.

“That’s how I remember it,” Carpenter responded.

The resolution got a negative recommendation in committee on a 4-6 vote. Roland along with Bunker and commissioners Chris Thomas and Heidi Shafer voted yes.

The full commission takes up the resolution at Monday’s commission meeting … which we will be tweeting live.

Walmart Wants Your Money Now, in Case You Don’t Have it Come December

Regions chief economist Bob Allsbrook studies a lot of data and parses plenty of numbers to divine the latest trends in things like consumer spending and consumer confidence.

Real-world examples also catch his eye. Case in point – he thinks the fact most Walmart stores will be open on Thanksgiving says a lot about consumer spending and sentiment.

In a presentation to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Allsbrook said Walmart is doing that because it actually wants to pull a lot of December spending into November.

“Because (Walmart) is concerned that by December, consumers may not have much income left to spend,” he said.

Other retailers are following suit, he noted. And the big items this year reflect the state of the American consumer – the big items being things like electronics that can be used in the home.

Allsbrook said big screen TVs are among the items most in demand, and the deep discounts reflect that. What’s the theme? If cash-strapped consumers absolutely have to spend money, they want to buy something that’ll last a long time and contribute to something like free entertainment at home.

“I was in New York this past week shopping in Bloomingdale’s and Toys ‘R’ Us, and it was (already) like the day after Thanksgiving with those prices,” he said.

Looking Back at the Pinnacle Rollout

In a blog post, Howell Marketing CEO Amy Howell unveils the curtain to talk about what went into the media strategy behind Pinnacle Airlines Corp.’s decision on a new headquarters location.

Here’s her commentary, in its entirety:

“A month ago I had the rare and exciting opportunity to help plan the announcement of Pinnacle Airlines’ corporate headquarter decision to move to downtown Memphis. It’s not a daily or regular run of the mill thing to work on something as big as this was–and still is–for Pinnacle and downtown. A double challenge was that we had to keep the decision quiet and out of the press until the recommendation was approved by the Board of Directors and the employees were notified. Bound by confidentiality agreements and sworn to secrecy, the team began putting the pieces together.

In my career in PR and media relations, this announcement was probably one of the largest “newsmakers” ever! Looking back, the only way to handle breaking the news was to do it all at once and quickly. Not a day went by that I wasn’t asked about Pinnacle’s pending decision. In hindsight, the Memphis media was diligent but also respectful. The coverage of the decision, the event, the impact to downtown, was expansive and good for everyone involved.

Once we had the communication pieces in play, our team moved on to plan the big event.

With less than 48 hours to go, we focused on how to execute the best “pep rally” for Pinnacle’s employees at the new HQ site, One Commerce Square. The team consisted of Pinnacle’s Eric Epperson and Joe Williams, Resource Entertainment’s Paul Chandler, Center City Commission’s Paul Morris and Leslie Gower. If you can find a better team than this, you can print money. Paul Chandler–a good friend and colleague–is one of the best professional event directors ever. It takes a certain type of person that can pull off a massive event in less than 48 hours complete with the Memphis “Flippers,” Ruby Wilson and the band, food, a red carpet, goodie bags for Pinnacle’s employees, a stage & sound system and banners hung the size of Texas! If you are going to have a big event, corporate or private, don’t do it without Paul and his amazing team at REG.

Leslie Gower and Paul Morris of the Center City Commission are also rock stars in my book. In addition to the Herculean work CCC did leading up to the event, the day of the event they pulled together the downtown business community to welcome Pinnacle and helped with the logistics like blocking off part of Monroe so the buses could get thru, etc. It’s not easy to bus 500 Pinnacle employees to a single location at a certain time–with a police escort! How cool is that! Destination King handled that monumental task and they are awesome too. The Memphis Chamber’s top boss, John Moore called and offered to help with the media and thanks to Amy Daniels for her awesome support the day of the event.

I had the honor of coordinating everything for Pinnacle with this incredible team including the agenda for the event which included a stage of politicians, VIPs and the Governor of TN. Each person on the stage had 3 minutes to speak and I only had to flash the flashlight at one speaker for talking too long (but you know there’s always one). It’s like herding cats trying to get that many politicians, CEO types and the Governor to one place for one agenda. The Governor (Bredesen at the time) had his own State Trooper as his escort and driver who kept calling my cell phone to check in which I certainly appreciated. The challenge I knew I had was to get everybody on the stage, stay on time and manage the media. I was also worried the fire marshal would count heads as we probably exceeded the maximum capacity for the lobby of the building but thankfully, we were all good there.

So, the event went off as planned, Phil Trenary–CEO of Pinnacle Airlines–gave his talk to the Pinnacle team of employees about the decision to relocate downtown and the significance of the decision. AutoZone employees (who relocated downtown years ago) clapped, held up signs of welcome–a signal and promise to Pinnacle that they’ll love working downtown. As the event drew to an end, I deliberately stopped and looked hard at everyone who helped make it successful. Smiles all around and big sighs of relief that such an important milestone went even better than we planned and imagined.

The team is what made it work and the only agenda was success for Pinnacle, it’s employees and our downtown community. The team worked together in a seamless fashion as if we’d done it all a million times. I think the collective experience of the team members as well as their positive and passionate attitudes made it awesome. It was a monumental day in the history of downtown and in my 20+ years of working and I will never forget the energy in that historic lobby that day. I will also never underestimate the value of an incredible team–including my own (thanks Lacey, Alys, Marc) and the importance of a good, high-beam flashlight!”

Blackburn On Memphis Being Passed Over By Air Force

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is expressing her displeasure with the U.S. Air Force for choosing Fort Stewart in New York over Memphis as the base for a group of eight new C-17 cargo planes. The planes are a part of Air Force missions delivering humanitarian aid and also provide disaster assistance.

The decision for the Air Force was between Memphis and Fort Stewart and Blackburn was told Tuesday it wasn’t Memphis.

Here is her written statement Tuesday afternoon in full:

“I am disappointed Memphis is not the ‘preferred option’ to host the new C-17 unit and am curious about what ‘operational issues’ drove the Air Force to determine that a facility in New York is superior to the world’s premier distribution hub. So far senior Air Force officials have been unable or unwilling to answer my direct question on these issues. Memphis is an obvious choice for the C-17s and I will continue pressing the Air Force on why we were bypassed. I will insist that the Air Force be transparent in their future operational assessments of Memphis.”

Alexander on Earmarks

An interesting statement from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on the whole issue of earmarks. This is the statement in its entirety. Let the discussion begin.

“I will support a moratorium on earmarks because they have become a symbol of wasteful spending. A timeout will permit Congress to limit the number of earmarks and make sure they are worthy. I will respect this moratorium, although in an emergency case I reserve the right to ask Congress and the President to approve measures of urgent importance to Tennesseans, such as funds to help those hurt by the devastating flooding last May.

“We should not mislead Americans by saying that an earmark ban will do much to reduce the federal debt. Cleaning up earmarks is good short-term policy, but as long-term policy it would undermine the Constitution because instead of placing a check on the President, it turns the checkbook over to him. This moratorium will help put the spotlight on executive branch earmarks, which in 2008 spent more than congressional earmarks.

“It will also help put a spotlight on two resolutions to control spending that I will offer at the Republican Conference meeting to ban both new entitlement spending programs and unfunded federal mandates on state and local government. Automatic entitlement spending has grown from 31 percent of the federal budget in 1970 to 56 percent today. The new Medicaid mandate in the health care law will cost Tennessee taxpayers $1.1 billion over five years.”

Dansette

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