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What housing recovery?

The chart below ought to spoil anyone’s appetite who thinks the economy will be getting back to normal anytime soon – whether you run a business, or, in Barack Obama’s case, a country with the most significant economy in the world.

It shows a staggering amount of time that homes around the country have been sitting in default, which chokes bank balance sheets and ultimately keeps the economy hamstrung.

It also shows that the average number of days mortgages have been in default in Shelby County is between 220 and 443.

 

 

(Graphic via nytimes.com)

Shelby Farms wants your help

Park supporters on the email list of Shelby Farms Park and the Shelby Farms Greenline got an email over the weekend warning that the future of one of the county’s most popular community assets might be on the line.

The County Commission, in a push led by Commissioner Terry Roland, may vote to cut some or all of the county’s funding to the park at the commission meeting Monday, June 20.

The email limits a separate request that supporters write letters to the editor of the Commercial Appeal. We at The Daily News, of course, would gladly welcome them as well.

The Shelby Farms email reads, in part:

“We know your passion for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline. We urge you to show your support by letting your county commissioners hear from you about what these incredible public amenities mean to you and to Shelby County.

-We first ask that the county honor the management agreement we entered into mutually. Our public-private partnership with Shelby County was formed to better serve the community. As part of that agreement, our ten-year management contract shows that the county will continue to provide the $576,000 it was spending on maintenance for the land under county management.

-For every dollar the county gives, we raise at least four more from private sources to meet the operating needs of the Park and Greenline. We are careful stewards of the county’s investment, and we have honored our commitment.

-We assumed management of Shelby Farms Greenline, Woodland Discovery Playground and Wolf River Pedestrian Bridge and did not ask for an increase in county funding, even though the new amenities added almost $250,000 to our operating expenses.

-Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline are two of the popular, important and transformative features of our community, with more than 3 million visits a year by our estimation. If we lose our funding, we may not be able to continue operating Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline.”

First Horizon “needs to do a deal”

If a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it, of course we know it made a sound.

Can the same be said when a group of investors and analysts gathered for a bank industry conference talk among themselves about how a certain Memphis banking company needs to hurry up and put its capital to work to land an acquisition deal, even when that bank isn’t presenting anything at the conference?

We’ll see. For now, it’s worth noting that Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. (the parent of First Tennessee Bank) was not one of the presenting companies at the Gulf South Bank Conference last month at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans, where attendees feasted for three days on oyster, booze, bank industry insight – and rumor.

Nevertheless, one of the phrases uttered repeatedly during the conference by investors and analysts had to do with First Horizon. It was said that “Bryan needs to do a deal,” a reference to First Horizon president and CEO Bryan Jordan.

(Consider, for what it’s worth, that it was generally an unsolicited comment).

The scuttlebutt from bank sources – and those at the conference – is that the market has been waiting for First Horizon to put its war chest of capital to work and snatch up a competitor. Jordan has frequently said publicly that when the right deal presents itself, he’ll pull the trigger.

Attendees at the New Orleans conference, though, said pursuing a deal is going to get harder the longer Jordan waits. Over the last three months, the company’s stock price has dropped about 10 percent, and some industry insiders and analysts have concerns about First Horizon that include a perceived mortgage repurchase risk.

If buying isn’t an option, the conference attendees said Jordan could always consider a sale of the company. Names bandied about included PNC Financial, BB&T and SunTrust Banks Inc.

Kind of reminds me of an old saying: if you don’t have a seat at the table, chances are you could be on the menu.

Cohen Urges County Commission to Reconsider Vote

Memphis congressman Steve Cohen has written a letter to the Shelby County Commission in hopes it will reverse an 8-3 vote to defund the county’s Office of Early Childhood and Youth:

“As you continue to consider the FY2012 Shelby County budget in your role as a member of the County Commission, I hope that you will take the time to re-visit the vote you cast this Monday to de-fund the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth (OECY).

As a former County Commissioner, I understand that oftentimes the proposals laid before you for consideration may not include details about the possible ramifications that could result upon their implementation. Normally, I do not get involved in County Commission business, but the vote that was cast on Monday to de-fund the OECY is one that, should it be implemented, would result in our county losing out on access to millions of federal dollars. By stripping the $450,000 in funding for the OECY, the county will lose approximately $6 million in federal funds for programs that help the neediest among our constituents.

The OECY’s focus on our community’s children is one that is unparalleled. Its child impact study program is the first—and only—one of its kind in the nation. The OECY’s encouragement of community partnerships is a factor that helps private and non-profit organizations across the county apply for grants from the state and federal governments.

To de-fund an initiative that has made such great strides in the few years it has existed would be a grave mistake for the Commission. By not allowing the OECY to achieve its full potential and continue to operate, we will not only lose out on the millions of federal dollars that the county is currently slated to receive, but we will never be able to realize the impact that such an initiative would have on our community’s children and families years from now.

It is my understanding that you will have the opportunity to consider this measure again on June 20th. If you have any questions about the information contained above or the federal funds that the OECY is scheduled to receive should it remain operational, I hope that you will feel free to contact me. I am hopeful that you will sincerely consider the information that I have shared with you about the importance of the Office of Early Childhood and Youth and vote to maintain funding for it when you are again given the opportunity.”

The City Budget & Residency

 

Among the more interesting points during Tuesday’s city council budget debate was some common ground between council members Kemp Conrad and Wanda Halbert.

Facing a chamber filled with members of the city’s municipal unions, Conrad pointed out that while the police and fire unions supported a property tax increase that the council later voted down, most of the police department and more than 40 percent of the fire department live outside the city of Memphis and wouldn’t be paying the tax hike.

That brought to mind, one of the issues Halbert has been very vocal about during her tenure of the council – residency requirements, specifically requiring city of Memphis employees to live in the city or at least in Shelby County.

During the council discussion, Conrad suggested that perhaps there was a circumstance under which he could support such a requirement.

Halbert’s point during budget deliberations has been that many of the solutions to closing the budget gap, now at $11 million, are “punitive” measures aimed at Memphians who continue to pay an unfair burden for services the city provides that are also used and taken advantage of by those who live outside Memphis.

For Halbert, that includes jobs on the city payroll and tax breaks for private corporations based elsewhere who also hire from outside the city as well as inside. That’s where the opinions on residency begin to differ.

For now at least, the residency discussion didn’t go any further than Conrad’s comment as the council was enmeshed in the numbers of a budget season that is coming to the July 1 wire of the new fiscal year.

We’ll have more on the efforts being made to resolve the rest of the still unsettled budget issues in Monday’s edition of The Daily News which goes online Friday at 4 p.m.

 

Dansette

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