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Cohen on the House Floor – “Red Tails”

Memphis congressman Steve Cohen spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, giving remarks within the context of “Red Tails.”

That’s the new movie from executive producer George Lucas about the famed black Tuskegee Airmen of WWII.

Here are Cohen’s remarks:

Lipscomb and Harris

Much of the attention in Civic Center Plaza these days is on the Shelby County Commission which is having a deep and wide political dispute that is more of a political realignment. It’s also the moment at which Justin Ford, a commissioner since Sept. 1, 2010, has stepped into the political spotlight.

We’ve written about what’s at stake here and we’ll be writing more.

But we didn’t want to ignore another political entrance across the plaza at City Hall.

It came last week as the Memphis City Council approved Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s slate of division directors — none of them a change from Wharton’s first two years in office although some have different roles than they did before.

When it comes to roles, Robert Lipscomb has had many during his tenure as director of the city’s division of housing and community development. He is also the executive director of the Memphis Housing Authority. MHA and HCD both exist primarily on federal funding, primarily from the federal Department of Housing and Community Development. But they are separate agencies and Lipscomb is paid a separate salary for each for a combined salary of $250,000 that is more than the mayor himself makes. And both salaries are federally funded.

For a time, Lipscomb played a third role as the city’s chief financial officer during the Herenton administration when Herenton conceded the city’s finances had become so tangled that he didn’t have an accurate read on where the city was going financial.

As the council vote neared on Lipscomb’s reappointment last week, council member Lee Harris, the only new member of the council in the 2011 city elections, made his stand.

He said Lipscomb’s pay was an “extremely high salary.”

“I think there are plenty of reasons we might choose not to go down that path,” he added. “I cannot be a part of extravagant salaries.”

Lipscomb had a hard time getting recognized to answer because of the other council members responding.

“I don’t think we pay director Lipscomb enough for everything he does,” said council member Reid Hedgepeth citing the federal grants to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars that have come the city’s way.

“If there is anything to criticize about this man it is that he works too hard,” said council member Myron Lowery who along with other council members cited Lipscomb’s 16-hour work days.

“There are other folks that work hard and I don’t think this is a substantial rationale to explain the huge gap in salaries,” Harris said. “I just don’t believe that there are 16-hour work days. That’s a pretext more or less for an extravagant salary.”

Lipscomb has had the two jobs at HCD and the MHA for 12 years. He started getting the dual salaries in 2009.

“I would submit to you the city owes me money for the years I got this dual responsibility,” he told the council. He also said the first nine years with one salary were a “travesty.”

Wharton responded later and in general.

“There are 16 hour workers back here,” he said pointing to the row of division directors seated behind him. “I know that for a fact.”

 

Great American Steamboat Co. planning Civil War-themed cruises

When travelers begin booking passage on riverboats that are soon to return to the Mississippi River, they’ll have an opportunity to bring history to life.

The Great American Steamboat Company – which is getting ready for the maiden voyage of its steamer the American Queen that will launch from Memphis in a few months – has three Civil War-themed trips to offer passengers. Highlights will include battlefield visits and entertainment from impersonators, actors, lecturers and more.

Details of the three trips can be found here. They start at $2,295 per guest based on double occupancy. It include a pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner and “complimentary shore adventures” in each port of call.

 

Tigers and Griz Sweep FedExForum Doubleheader

Quick Hits from a Day at FedExForum with the Tigers and Grizzlies:

• The Grizzlies will start a four-game road trip Monday at Golden State in the best possible condition after their 128-95 pounding of the Sacramento Kings Saturday, Jan. 21 – on a six-game winning streak. They are now 9-6 and have some margin for error, which they might need considering they have games at Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“We’re on a roll,” said guard O.J. Mayo, who had a season-high 22 points and knocked down 6-of-10 shots from 3-point range.

“Four games, seven days,” Rudy Gay said of the road trip. “It speaks for itself.”

• The Tigers, coming off a painful one-point loss at Central Florida, beat SMU 63-45 to kick off a three-game homestand. Now 13-6 and 4-1 in Conference USA, this is their opportunity to build momentum. The Tigers led 30-28 at halftime and had started to mirror the Mustangs (SMU took went 4-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half and the Tigers were 2-for-11).

“Coach (Josh Pastner) came in the locker room at halftime and read us our stats,” said forward Tarik Black, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds. “We shot too many 3’s. They play a great zone and he told us, `don’t settle.’”

• Tigers forward Ferrakohn Hall started the game, but played just 11 minutes and had no points and one rebound. He didn’t seem pleased to be spending so much time on the bench.

“I just didn’t think he was getting the job done,” Pastner said, saying of Hall’s poor body language on the bench: “We don’t have time to enable or baby.”

• Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley continued his strong play by scoring 15 first-quarter points on the way to a season-high 22 with six assists.

“It was just one of those nights,” he said. “The lane seemed like it was wide open and all the shots were falling.”

• Pastner praised his team’s defensive effort and SMU did shoot miserably – 32.6 percent overall and 18.5 percent from 3-point range (5-for-27). A decent amount of the 3-point shots were wide-open looks, although Pastner didn’t exactly agree.

“We had hands in their faces, too,” the coach said.

• Pastner also said that he believes the Tigers could be 17-2 or 16-3 instead of 13-6. “We’ve lost several games with a little possession here, a little possession there,” he said. “And that bites you in the butt.”

• Dante Cunningham played almost 20 minutes for the Grizzlies – all of them in the second half and they were all he needed to get 10 rebounds and 7 points.

“Dante showed a lot of professionalism,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. “He didn’t play in the first half. Then he came out in the second half and was the first guy in the rotation. He did an outstanding job defensively, blocking shots, taking charges, and he made some shots.”

• By the numbers:
 191-140 – the combined of score of the Memphis teams versus their opponents Saturday.
 24 and 13 – Will Barton’s points and the number of consecutive games he has scored in double-figures for the Tigers.
 50 – Grizzlies field goals, tying the NBA high set on Jan. 3 here when the Griz beat the Kings.
 8:57 – The period of time the Tigers held SMU scoreless in the second half.
 27 – The Grizzlies’ assists, a season high.
 9 – The Tigers’ rebounding edge (36-27) over SMU.
 15 – Grizzlies forward Marreese Speights’ rebounds, a career best.

TDN Online (from the inside)

Hi. Kate here.

I’m The Daily News’ social media specialist, which means I sit at a desk surfing Twitter while TDN’s reporters and usual bloggers – Andy, Sarah, Bill and Aisling – are out covering Memphis’ business, government and community news.

I usually leave the blogging to them, but I’m popping by for a moment to mention what’s going on in The Daily News’ digital realm.

Traffic on Facebook and Twitter (here, here and here) has grown tremendously in the past year. You’re reading the blog right now. And The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com, is always evolving to bring you dynamic news, profiles and access to more than 13 million public records …

… Oh, and did I mention all our editorial content is free?

Industry leaders are taking notice. Editor & Publisher, the newspaper industry’s key trade publication, awarded TDN’s website two honorable mentions in the annual EPPY Awards, an international competition that recognizes the best media-affiliated websites. Also, the Tennessee Press Association awarded the site first place for Best Website in its division.

It was particularly special to garner those awards in 2011, The Daily News’ 125th birthday. It’s a little reminder of how much we’ve stayed true to our roots – providing public records and notices to Memphis’ business community – while expanding into so much more.

But we’re not resting on our laurels. Keep an eye on memphisdailynews.com for new features, including a videos section and more information on upcoming Daily News seminars and events. And, of course, we’ll continue to bring you Memphis’ best business, government and community news coverage.

Because Andy, Sarah, Bill and Aisling are out in the field, doing their thing.

While I’m here surfing Twitter. … Which is where I’m headed now.

/ks

Dansette

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