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Pancreatic Cancer Action Network planning a big push this week

Memphis-area residents are expected to join in this week with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the national organization working for a cure for the disease through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy, for the Sixth Annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. It happens on June 26, and as part of the effort more than 600 advocates from across the country will urge members of Congress to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/ H.R. 733).

Supporters can help by participating in a national call-in on June 26 and contacting their local reps – Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Bob Corker, Representative Steve Cohen and Representative Marsha Blackburn. To learn how to contact these Members of Congress on June 26th, visit www.knowitfightitendit.org.

Northaven Encore

 

Some background on the cover story about Northaven in the latest edition of The Memphis News…

We first came across Louis Padgett in our coverage of the schools consolidation planning commission. He is one of the 21 citizens serving on the group that has drafted the blueprint for the consolidated countywide school system.

As the principal of Northaven Elementary School his perspective is unique as an educator although there are several others on the commission who were classroom teachers and principals at other times in their lives.

From there we encountered Padgett at the formal opening of the new Northaven fire station last month and that’s where we picked up on just how devoted Padgett is to the area.

Some of that came from Padgett’s enthusiasm. But most of it came from what others at the event said about him — especially those who Padgett took for rides around a community that most people don’t give a second thought even if they know it exists.

Go west on North Watkins from Highway 51 — past Old Millington Road, a stretch of road where the “old” is an essential part of the definition, and keep going past the horse stable with the old silo. Northaven Road is the entrance off Watkins into the community.

If you believe that the forest in Shelby Forest stops and ends within the confines of the state park bearing the name, you will be shocked to discover that the forest is alive and well in Northaven’s streetscape. At this time of the year, the grass doesn’t just get high in some parts of Northaven. It melds with the large trees and vines to become a dense moving mass of nature that seems always poised to overwhelm anything in its path.

It hasn’t been that long ago that the Horton Gardens public housing development closed. But it hasn’t taken long at all for nature to reclaim much of the property.

Impact Baptist Church pastor Michael Ellis has his eye on the property. He told us he would like to see it as senior citizen housing with some housing also for military veterans.

Meanwhile, Padgett’s list includes more through streets connecting Northaven to North Watkins. He is convinced the limited access and the isolation it presents are a factor – not the only factor – but a factor in the area’s crime problem.

He’s not alone in that thinking. Memphis Police years ago in analyzing the significant gang problem in the Davy Crockett area of Frayser and surrounding Rangeline Road area found the one way in – one way out road structure in some of the subdivisions was a disadvantage in combating the gangs in that area at the street level with daily enforcement tactics.

 

Politics, It’s No Picnic

 

There is the politics of getting elected to office and there is the politics of holding office. They do go together but there are some distinctions to be made.

Take the annual pre-Fourth of July political picnic that Shelby County Commission chairman Sidney Chism and other local Democratic leaders hold every year on Horn Lake Road.

There won’t be one this year per Gale Jones Carson, who is among the organizers with Chism.

Chism has had a busy year. He ran in the March Democratic primary for General Sessions Court Clerk. As commission chairman, he has overseen the commission’s protracted debate over redistricting that stretched into the first half of this year before Chancellor Arnold Goldin made the decision for the commission last week. Chism also moderated and attempted to mediate the commission’s personality conflicts that have surfaced during redistricting and other matters.

Meanwhile, we are about three weeks from early voting in advance of the Aug. 2 elections. This is an election cycle that normally is pretty simple. But when is the last time our politics was normal?

Instead of just the regular state and federal primaries and two county general elections for Assessor and General Sessions Court Clerk, we’ve got special elections for one seat on the Shelby County Commission and District Attorney General, six referendums in each of the suburban towns and cities on forming municipal school districts and seven school board races.

While political leaders are busier than ever, the basic retail political goal is to get voters to the polls. And the pursuit of that goal is changing as well.

This week at the Memphis Rotary Club, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell talked about the low voter turnout that has come to be the norm for local elections. Luttrell believes the low turnout isn’t just apathy. He believes it is discouragement and disillusionment about the nature of our politics – part of which is the “urban-suburban divide.”

He talked about that and we look, in a piece in Thursday’s edition, at Luttrell’s leadership style as he approaches the two-year mark as county mayor.

All of this activity and energy for a turnout often well under half of the voters in Shelby County. It is no wonder it can be hard to find a political picnic on par with the old St. Peter’s picnic in Midtown.

The picnic for the orphanage and later children’s home at Poplar and McLean was the place to be for decades for political hacks, political legends and those who follow them around for a living.

The picnic itself was also a carnival with games and prizes not to be missed if you were a child of Memphis.

My family always went late in the day for several reasons. It wasn’t as hot. There were four of us children. And by sundown there was less chance the politicians would be trying to hand my parents stuff or trying to get their vote.

By now, you are probably considering the irony of that. I know I do frequently.

No one told my Mom how to vote and my Mom usually told my Dad how to vote. But sometimes he would take me with him and let me vote in the races lower on the ballot.

It is something I now consider a practice ahead of its time in countering the dreaded political phenomenon of ballot fall-off. Of course, ballot fall-off comes with different technical concerns now that the ballot layout is a set of “pages” on an electronic ballot.

I have to admit, there was a certain attraction even at that age to what you might call the political debris left by people I rarely saw but whose pictures were sometimes on the push cards others discarded in the hand to hand campaigning. The signs would still be up around the gates and the push cards and other literature would be several layers thick near the gates like a political mosaic by the time I got there.

Two of my fondest memories of the St. Peter’s picnic are those mosaics and the heat lightning.

 

Congratuations to Goner Records – one of Rolling Stone’s “Best Of”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midtown’s Goner Records has been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best record stores in the country.

From the magazine: “Garage rock is a staple of many an independent record store, but Goner puts its money where its ears are, issuing some of the rawest titles in the field on its own label, including the early work of the late, great Jay Reatard, a longtime friend of the store, as well as more recent work from Ty Seagall and the Eddy Current Suppression Ring.”

Ubiquiti Network’s stock price and the Griz deal

Near as I can tell, a lot of the tongue wagging over Robert Pera’s bid for the Grizzlies – and some recent speculation that it might not actually come to fruition – starts with a look at the stock price of Pera’s company, Ubiquiti Networks.

It’s down about 30 percent since the beginning of the year. Pera’s net worth appears to come in large part from the nearly 60 million shares of Ubiquiti he owns (as of Oct. 2011), so I guess the assumption is that the money he’s lost on paper since the beginning of the year means that because Robert is worth less these days, maybe he won’t be able to consummate his $350 million deal for the team.

Thing is, the preceding paragraph includes a lot of faulty assumptions. But I’ve seen them made not just in the New York Daily News piece that attracted a lot of attention last weekend, but in other news accounts – and in private conversations.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons here why those assumptions are flawed. That analysis will be part of our continuing coverage in The Daily News. But here are a few thoughts –

Based on talking to people who know what they’re talking about (read into that what you like, but it means what it says), I have heard Pera’s actual net worth described as such that he could do the deal for the Grizzlies “a few times over” – by himself.

His stake in Ubiquiti, as of the moment I’m writing this, is worth a little less than $800 million. The way it was laid out to me, there’d be more of a genuine cause for concern over someone who’s rich on paper if that wealth is tied largely to an unprofitable company.

Ubiquiti, though, is profitable. Revenue was up 79 percent to $91.7 million in its most recent quarter, with adjusted earnings per share of $0.30. Analysts are expecting something similar for the next quarter – earnings per share of around $0.28.

The company grew headcount from 102 at June 30, 2011, to 131 at March 31 primarily because of increased R&D investment.

There’s a reason we’re seeing lots of worry these days over whether mom and pop investors are going to stay away from the stock market for a while, particularly in light of Facebook’s disastrous IPO:

Quite frequently, stock prices are influenced heavily by factors that don’t have a single thing to do with the fundamentals of a particular company. I’m not saying let’s ignore Ubiquiti’s recent performance – but let’s not let the company’s stock price be the primary driver of a conversation about whether Pera’s Griz bid will happen.

Dansette

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