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Telling Our Story

 

I blogged a bit about this when the show first started airing.

Now we learn Memphis Beat, the cop show claiming to have a Memphis storyline, has been cancelled by TNT, the cable channel that aired it for two years.

I came down hard on it and don’t regret it. But the show really isn’t the point and it never was.

If you are still waiting for Hollywood to stop thinking that Southern is synonymous with slow, simple and stupid you will be waiting a while.

Forking over cash money to the same folks as “incentives” for making movies and television shows here won’t change the mindset either. And the name of the game in “incentives” is cash on the table with no need to bother with the accounting and no claw back provisions.

These are the same folks who made a movie in Mississippi about the murder of Medgar Evers and made Evers a minor character in the story line.

The answer to this remains for us to tell our own story.

We talk about creating human capital and work force development. But when the work force works in the creative arts, that becomes the creative class and the attention shifts to attracting the creative class from other cities to Memphis.

It’s already here and certainly more are welcome. But you can find it every night of the week playing in a bar. You can see it at one of several film festivals and in several recent documentaries that Memphians lined up to see in special showings Malco theaters were kind enough and wise enough to host.

They write poetry and publish it themselves. They teach art even as they change the art form.

The chances are pretty good that you have a nephew, a daughter, a cousin or friend whose focus in life is the theater, ballet or music at some level.

Memphis isn’t seen as an “industry town” for any of this to the degree of a Nashville or a Los Angeles.

That makes it harder, much less comfortable — although if you believe Memphians going to Los Angeles don’t struggle I have several references I can furnish you.

And creativity’s nature involves denying or ignoring boundaries including the most obvious boundaries of being limited by where you come from.

But there is a double standard in too many cases I think. We are now in the habit of telling those bound for college in pursuit of a career in science or business or medicine to consider returning home when they get their education. But those in entertainment or the arts we wish well in their journey to whatever we see as the capital or center of that pursuit.

For the first group we promise there will be something here for them to return to and contribute to. For the second group, the foundation for both is already present. It’s not the only stage or studio or setting. But it is the one they know best and whose story they can tell better than anyone else.

Sen. Corker, on new debit fees: “See, I told you so”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., issued a statement today in response to the glut of new debit card fees by banks that have sparked widespread consumer outrage.

It can be basically be summed up in five words: “See, I told you so.”

Corker was a major opponent of the so-called Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform act that caps the amount of money banks can charge retailers every time customers pay for a purchase by swiping a debit card.

Banks from Regions Financial Corp. to Bank of America – and even First Tennessee – are now instituting new fees for debit card users.

Corker said: “Having warned about the consequences of flawed rules regulating debit card transactions, I’m not surprised banks are now charging new fees in response to the regulations. These fees are a predictable consequence of government price fixing. When governments engage in price fixing, the consumer always loses.”

Schools References Part One

With the local world of education starting a process that will mean a lot of change, some of the long held terms used to define who was doing what are changing as who does what is changing.

So, this is probably as good a place as any to begin a periodic update on what is called what or how we’ll be referring to them as the process of making Shelby County’s two public school systems one public school system.

The 21-member group that is overseeing a specific plan for consolidating the two school systems and creating a single consolidated school system is the Planning Commission. While we all get adjusted to what the group does you will probably see us refer to it informally as the schools consolidation Planning Commission especially when the story involves the other entity the Planning Commission will be working with.

What some have called the Unified School Board has a name still in the making. At its first meeting last week, the 23-member board composed of former Memphis City Schools and former Shelby County Schools board members as well as seven new appointees had some brief discussion about changing the name of the board to Unified School Board. Some favor keeping it as the Shelby County Schools board.

At least for now, we’ll call it the countywide school board to make a distinction between old and new.

Also for now, you will see references in our stories to who is on the countywide school board in terms of where they came from.

This is a process that has been on the move since last November. But many of our readers are just now beginning to follow the important decisions that are being made. For all of us, it’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of people on each of those bodies to remember who does what and why.

Before this is done we may have to consider scorecards.

 

Big Regions Financial Corp. shareholder dumps half its shares

At the same time as Regions Financial Corp. races to complete a deal to sell its Memphis-based investment banking unit, one of the Alabama-based bank’s largest shareholders has dumped almost half its shares.

Fairholme Capital Management LLC held a little more than 60 million Regions shares as of Sept. 30, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week. That’s down from more than 115 million shares as of May 31, according to the firm’s semi-annual report for the six months ended May 31.

According to the Bloomberg news service, Fairholme had been ranked the biggest holder of Regions shares as of June 30.

Regions’ stock price has slid almost 50 percent this year. Complicating the uncertain outlook at the moment for Regions – which is the number 2 bank as ranked by customer deposit share in Memphis – is the lack of a deal more than three months after announcing the sale of its investment banking arm, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc.

A few reports this week, including one from the Financial Times, said that at least three potential buyers are still in the hunt for the Memphis unit. Private equity firms Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group, of New York and Washington D.C., respectively, have reportedly teamed up and are competing with Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston.

They’re in the process of carrying out due diligence on Morgan Keegan, according to the Financial Times.

Some people with knowledge of the process, though, say it’s still unclear whether a deal will get done.

“I would not be surprised if Regions decides to hold on to Morgan Keegan for a while, because they do not have to repay the TARP money back this year, and they are trying to sell the company in a down market,” said Ron Edde, of Armstrong Financial Group Inc.

City moving forward with bike lanes along Madison

Madison Ave. is set to get dedicated bike lanes on both sides of the street between Cooper and McNeil streets.

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. has ordered the city Engineering Division to proceed with restriping Madison in preparation for the bike lanes.

Wharton reached his decision after reviewing the results of a traffic study done by an engineering consultant, Kimley-Horn and Associates. According to information from the mayor’s office about the study, vehicular traffic between major intersections along the 1.5-mile route would only be slowed by a few seconds with the inclusion of the bike lanes.

Wharton’s full statement about his decision:

“Madison Avenue is a vitally important central corridor for dozens of small businesses and thousands of families. It is imperative to the long-term economic prosperity of Midtown and the entire city that it be as safe, accessible, and vibrant as possible. As we’ve seen throughout Memphis and all over the country, bike lanes are encouraging people to be healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more supportive of locally owned small businesses. The Kimley-Horn traffic study and the public meetings that were conducted by Looney Ricks Kiss earlier this year strongly indicate that we can look forward to those same benefits along Madison Avenue.

“However, I am highly sensitive to the merchants’ concerns about business traffic along Madison. I have pledged to them that we will continue to work with them and to monitor commerce on the street and that we will make adjustments should they become necessary.

“I want to thank the public and all of Madison Avenue’s stakeholders for their input and patience. We are committed to making this street a destination – not just a thoroughfare.

“As we work with the private sector to make Madison Avenue a truly vibrant Midtown entertainment district, installing these bicycle lanes is an obvious first step, but we acknowledge that it is only a first step. We will be looking at possible future enhancements along Madison Avenue, including other streetscape and infrastructure improvements.”

Dansette

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