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pep Talk Delta Airlines CEO insists Memphis will be key hub after merger with Northwest. page 6

sign of hope?

so Long, Oak hall

Coping Mechanisms

May’s foreclosures dipped about 17% from the previous month.

The old Oak Hall building in East Memphis is up for new look, name .

Home sales and values dropped in May as builders struggled to cope.

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y e k : c I e r o J


Q e h T

r o f t ues

k c a b e m o C a

A study in politics and corruption Page 18

a p u b l i c at i o n o f t h e d a i ly n e w s p u b l i s h i n g c o . | w w w.t h e m e m p h i s n e w s . c o m


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Foreclosure Notices Filed Against One Faith Sites Two first-run foreclosure notices have been filed on properties owned by local church One Faith Fellowship, according to public records. One foreclosure notice claims default on a more than $660,000 loan dated Sept. 28, 2006, for property at 4945 Winchester Road; the other claims default on a $344,000 loan dated Dec. 6, 2006, for property at 4921 Winchester. The lender listed on both notices is AmSouth Bank, and the current owner and holder of the debt is State Resources Corp. The 4945 Winchester site is a roughly 2.5-acre property containing a more than 30,000-square-foot, two-story church building built in 1964. The property is on the south side of Winchester west of Clearbrook Street. One Faith Fellowship bought the site in August 2005 from Kensington Baptist Church. The Shelby County Assessor’s 2008 appraisal is $1.1 million. The 4921 Winchester property is a 23,150-square-foot, two-story warehouse building used as a gymnasium, according to the assessor, whose 2008 appraisal is $925,100. The building sits on an L-shaped parcel adjacent to and behind the church building. It was built in 1985, and One Faith Fellowship bought it from Regions Bank at a foreclosure sale in December 2006. Both properties are scheduled to be sold July 11 at the Shelby County Courthouse.

Commercial Sales Down Again In May Shelby County’s commercial real estate took another nosedive in May with a 22.1 percent decline from the same month a year ago, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, The month saw just 67 commercial sales, down from 86 in May 2007. Sales volume in terms of dollar amount took a much larger hit, as the total for May was just $54 million, a 75.5 percent dropoff from the $220.6 million in May 2007. And May’s average sales price of $806,248 was off 68.6 percent from the average sales price of $2.6 million in May 2007. May’s average square footage of 27,558 square feet and average price per square foot of $32.42 were down from the May 2007 totals of 31,837 and $83.76, respectively. Compared to the previous month, May’s declines weren’t drastic. Sales numbers were down only 10.7 percent from the April 2008 total of 75, while sales volume in terms of dollar amount declined just 13.4 percent from April’s $62.4 million. May’s average sales price, square footage and price per square foot compare favorably with the April 2008 totals of $831,601, 21,734 square feet and $44.57 per foot, respectively. Year to date through May 31, Shelby County registered 432 sales, down 17.1 percent from the 521 in the same period of 2007, while the pricing has been much lower than last year: 2008 has seen $414.1 million in terms of dollar amount, a 68 percent decline from $1.3 billion in the same year-to-date period last year. And this year’s average sales price of $958,471 marks a 61.4 percent decline from the $2.5 million through the same period last year.

The top area in May for number of sales was the University of Memphis area’s 38111 ZIP code with seven sales averaging $317,979. The top area for sales volume in terms of average sales price was Hickory Hill North’s 38115 ZIP code with two sales averaging $4.6 million. As for commercial types, vacant land larger than one acre led the sales category with 13 transactions. It was followed by multifamily, which was second with nine sales but also tops in average sales price at $2 million. The multifamily sales category was highlighted by the Autumnwood and Stonegate apartment complexes in Southeast Memphis and Raleigh, respectively, which sold for a combined $16 million to New Yorkbased White Eagle Property Group.

FEC Complaint Filed Against Blackburn Campaign The Washington-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, along with Germantown resident Barbara Kaye, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the campaign committee of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and the committee’s treasurer, Tea Hoffman. Blackburn is the representative of Tennessee’s 7th congressional district that includes parts of Shelby County. The group’s complaint alleges several things, including that Blackburn’s committee might have violated federal campaign finance laws for reporting errors that have dogged Blackburn’s campaign finances each year since she first ran for Congress in 2002. D a r c y A n d e r s o n , s p o ke s m a n f o r Blackburn for Congress, said the campaign has undertaken its own investigation, voluntarily reported errors to the FEC and already addressed the matters publicly.

NTS Realty Holdings Buys Apartments Near Shelby Farms NTS Realty Holdings LP has entered into agreements with Colonial Realty LP and Colonial Properties Services Inc. to buy for $41 million a multifamily property in Memphis known as Colonial Grand at Shelby Farms. Shelby Farms is a 450-unit community that offers apartments with a variety of floor plans. Apartments include gourmet kitchens, open breakfast bars, large luxury baths, washer/dryer connections, walkin closets, nine-foot ceilings with crown mouldings and other custom features. The community offers residents a clubhouse with a pool, a sun deck with an outdoor cooking area, a fitness center, lighted tennis courts, a car care center, attached and detached garages, and direct access to the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park. NTS Realty Holdings has until Thursday to conduct general due diligence on the property. If the results are good, the agreement will be closed by Friday. NTS Realty Holdings plans to meet the purchase price for Shelby Farms from the proceeds of a short-term mortgage loan from the sellers, secured by NTS’ interest in Shelby Farms and from working capital, company officials said. NTS intends to refinance the short-term loan from the

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sellers within 30 to 90 days with a mortgage loan from an institutional lender.

Partners Buy Palm Springs Hyatt Memphis-based Davidson Hotel Co. and RockBridge Partners, an affiliate of RockBridge Capital LLC, have formed a joint venture to buy the 194-room Hyatt Regency Suites in Palm Springs, Calif., for an undisclosed sum. Davidson holds a minority interest in the partnership. Davidson took over management of the property June 1. The hotel is scheduled to undergo an $18.5 million renovation, which Davidson will coordinate. The renovations are slated to begin in summer 2009. The project will include renovations to the lobby, atrium, restaurant and lounge. Guest suites will be fully refurbished and a new fitness center and full-service spa will be added. Davidson owns or manages 33 independent and branded hotels with more than 9,200 rooms across the U.S.

Business Inventories Rise 0.5 Percent in April Businesses added to their stockpiles by the largest amount in three months in April, a better-than-expected showing that provides support for economic growth. The U.S. Labor Department has reported that business inventories grew by 0.5 percent in April, more than double the 0.2 percent rise in March and the best showing since inventories rose by 1 percent in January. The increase in stockpiles held on shelves and backlots was significantly higher than the 0.3 percent gain that analysts had been expecting and will provide a boost to economic activity in the April-June quarter. The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the first three months of the year.

Tenn. Kids Better Off, But Still Face Challenges Tennessee still ranks among the bottom 10 states for children’s health and well-being, but its high school dropout rate has improved dramatically, a national report shows. The annual Kids Count report measures each state’s progress in 10 areas, including infant mortality, poverty rates, singleparent families, teen death rates and low birth weight babies. This year Tennessee improved to 42nd overall from 43rd. Despite some improvement, Tennessee ranks in the bottom 10 states for infant mortality, low birth weight babies, children living in poverty and teen births, the report shows. But high school dropouts decreased 45 percent between 2000 and 2006 and both the child and teen death rates improved. Only 6 percent of teens in Tennessee left school without getting a diploma compared to 7 percent for the nation. Tennessee’s dropout rate ranks 15th in the U.S. “Tennessee has implemented good public policies and strategies to improve outcomes

for older children, resulting in more children graduating and fewer adolescents dying,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the state Commission on Children and Youth. Tennessee has received national attention for the quality of its pre-kindergarten programs, but Gov. Phil Bredesen had to trim a planned expansion to the program as part of budget cuts this year. The state also has begun providing more pre-pregnancy health programs that make sure women have a proper diet and avoid smoking and using drugs or alcohol. “ Te n n e s s e e m u s t c o n t i n u e a n d strengthen significant emphasis on improving preconception maternal health to reduce the number of low birth weight babies and infant death, efforts that take several years before the outcomes are reflected in data reported in the book,” O’Neal said.

International Paper To Give To Botanic Garden Project International Paper Co. will donate $300,000 in cash and $100,000 in goods and services from the company’s foundation, International Paper Foundation, toward the construction of an outdoor educational classroom for the Memphis Botanic Garden’s “My Big Backyard” Children’s Garden project. The project is expected to be completed by fall 2009. The Children’s Garden project will allow Mid-South children the opportunity to learn and play in an outdoor environment that reinforces fundamentals of environmental awareness and sustainability.

uMonitor Continues Growth With New Clients

Memphis-based uMonitor, a financial solution services provider for banking customer acquisition and retention, has added a number of new clients, including Darby Bank & Trust Co., CDC Federal Credit Union, CFE Federal Credit Union, Harleysville Savings Bank and Riverbank and Quincy Credit Union. All of the banks and credit unions selected uMonitor’s online account opening and funding service, uOpen and uFund. In addition, several other institutions have begun using uTransfer, a funds transfer solution, including Michigan First Credit Union, Boeing Wichita Credit Union, AmeriCu Credit Union, Utah Community Credit Union and Dort Federal Credit Union. uMonitor helps financial companies gain leverage on the Web and improve their competitive positioning by providing full-service branch capabilities online. uOpen and uFund gives customers of the participating banks and credit unions the ability to open new accounts, obtain credit cards and complete loan applications via the Internet, while uTransfer allows them to transfer funds among accounts.

Shareholders Approve Scripps Split

Shareholders of E.W. Scripps Co. have approved the media company’s plan to split into two public companies by July 1. Shareholders signed off on the June 13 at the company’s annual meeting in Cincinnati. The company did not release vote figures. Federal regulators and the company’s board of directors have cleared the deal already. One company, Scripps Networks Interactive, will include the cable networks and online comparison-shopping sites Shopzilla and uSwitch. The other, E.W. Scripps, will have 10 broadcast television stations and newspapers in 15 U.S. markets.

Study Finds Discrepancies in VA Care for Women Women veterans aren’t receiving the same quality of outpatient care as men at many Department of Veterans Affairs’ facilities, according to an agency review obtained exclusively by The Associated Press. The review appears to validate the complaints of advocates and some members of Congress who have said the health care system needs to focus more on women’s health. Women make up about 5 percent of the VA’s population, but that number is expected to nearly double in the next two years as more women return home from Iraq and Afghanistan and seek care. The review of the quality of care at VA facilities, which was mandated by Congress, found that at about one-third of its facilities, the quality of outpatient care given to women wasn’t as good as what was offered to men. It said that the VA has made strides in improving care for women veterans, such as creating onsite mammography services and establishing women’s clinics at most of its medical centers. It also said the VA is attempting to recruit clinicians with training in women’s care and broadening its approach to better address diseases prevalent among women, such as lung cancer. However, it said that there were barriers that remained, such as the need to train more physicians in women’s care and for more equipment to meet women’s health needs. “VHA is continuing to investigate the possibility of gender disparity in delivery of care through research efforts aimed at further delineating the factors involved,” the review said.

Mascom Properties Buys Bartlett Retail Center Mascom Properties LLC has bought a 22,120-square-foot strip shopping center at 2686 Kirby Whitten Road in Bartlett for $1.8 million from W. Terry Edwards. The Bartlett Commons Center, built in 2001, sits on 2.44 acres in the Bartlett Commons Planned Development, south of the Summer Avenue and Kirby-Whitten Road intersection. The sale closed June 12.

The center’s tenants include a Family Dollar store, a billiards club and a nail salon. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $1.5 million. Mascom Properties also assumed a $1.6 million loan that Edwards took out in March 2006 through Protective Life Insurance Co. This is the second purchase in two weeks for Mascom Properties, which paid $1.1 million for a 14,332-square-foot office building at 8039 Stage Hills Blvd. in Bartlett on May 30. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal of that property is $1.1 million. The building, constructed in 1998, sits on 0.78 acres in Bartlett. The Stage Hills property is northwest of North Germantown and Stage roads, near St. Francis Hospital– Bartlett.

Donald to Receive ABA Achievement Award The American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section will honor U.S. District Court Judge Bernice B. Donald of Memphis with the inaugural Liberty Achievement Award. The award raises awareness of the importance of diversifying the legal profession by honoring lawyers and judges who actively promote diversity within their legal communities. The award will be presented to Donald and Catherine A. Christian of New York at the ABA’s 2008 Annual Meeting there on Aug. 8. The Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s gala to celebrate diversity and opportunity, titled “Generation to Generation,” will be held on Ellis Island. Donald was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and has served in that position since January 1996. Prior to that, Donald was a member of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee and the Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court. She is a member of the board of directors for the Federal Judicial Center and is on the faculty of the National Judicial College, among other accolades.

FAA Awards $12.7M To Memphis International The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded a grant of almost $13 million to Memphis International Airport. The $12.7 million funding will provide money for a variety of things, including designing a new cargo ramp and rebuilding the terminal cargo ramp that has fallen into disrepair because of old age; demolishing two cargo buildings to accommodate the expansion of Concourse C; acquiring snow removal equipment; erosion control; building a new terminal building; and the rehabilitation of existing cargo ramps, runways and taxiways. [Cohen mug from file] U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, a member of the House of Representatives’ aviation subcommittee of the transportation and infrastructure committee, praised the announcement of the grant because recent developments in the airline industry have caused worry for some people working at Memphis International Airport.

This report compiled by Rosalind Guy with contributions from reporters Andy Meek and Eric Smith, editorial assistant Rebekah Hearn and The Associated Press.

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CO N T E N T S JUNE 25-JULY 1, 2008 VOL. 1, ISSUE 2

7 President & CEO

PETER SCHUTT General Manager Emeritus

End of an Institution Often referred to as Memphis’ father of modern architecture, Alfred Lewis Aydelott is remembered as a visionary.

ED RAINS Publisher

ERIC BARNES Executive Editor

DAVID YAWN Managing Editor



Very Sporting of Them Cordova’s First Tennessee Fields sports complex is seeking approval to expand with eight new buildings along Fischer Steel Road.

Senior Editor


KATE SIMONE Senior Reporter

BILL DRIES Senior Reporter



The Caravan of Life After a 17-year run, David Emerson is selling his Cockeyed Camel restaurant for an undisclosed sum.

Senior Reporter


ROSALIND GUY Editorial Assistant


TOMMY COON Graphic Designer

BRAD JOHNSON Graphic Designer

JEN SIMMONS Graphic Designer

PHILIP THOMPSON Graphic Designer

KEVIN MASSEY Advertising Coordinator



Free at Last After years of lobbying government officials and neighbors, a persistent developer finally has the go-ahead to build a motel off Lamar Avenue.


Queen of the Hill Aspiring entrepreneurs take notice – 8-year-old Nzinga Ajuma is the pintsized owner of Queen Nzinga’s Creations: Jewelry Made for Jewels.

Cover: Quest for a Comeback Illustration by Philip Thompson

Administrative Specialist

MARSHA PAYNE Advertising Director

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PATRICIA McKINNEY Circulation Coordinator

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PAT WIGGINS To reach our editorial department, e-mail: or call:


Published by: THE DAILY NEWS PUBLISHING CO. 193 Jefferson Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 P.O. Box 3663 Memphis, TN 38173-0663 Tel: 901.523.1561 Fax: 901.526.5813 The Daily News is a general interest newspaper covering business, law, government, and real estate and development throughout the Memphis metropolitan area. The Daily News, the successor of the Daily Record, The Daily Court Reporter, and The Daily Court News, was founded in 1886.

LINDSAY JONES Managing Editor A former reporter, feature writer and magazine editor, Jones has won several awards from the Tennessee Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is the proud mommy of a great little boy and five spoiled cats.

BILL DRIES Senior Reporter Dries, from Memphis, has been a reporter for more than 30 years. His career stops include The Commercial Appeal, WHBQ AM, WREC AM and WLYX FM 89 way back in the 1970s! He now covers legal issues and other news.

ANDY MEEK Senior Reporter Meek, from Memphis, covers politics, the business community and other news of general interest. He has won awards from the Tennessee Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

ERIC SMITH Senior Reporter Smith covers real estate, financial services, and logistics and distribution. He grew up in Memphis and moved back in 2005 after spending seven years in Alaska, where he worked as a Web writer and sports reporter.

ROSALIND GUY Reporter Guy is an award-winning journalist who covers nonprofit organizations, small businesses and other news. When she’s not writing stellar stories, she’s taking care of her beautiful children – two boys and two girls.


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Found wherever M "IG I>EJI R

Delta Chief Chats Up Impending Merger With NWA


The Memphis News is available free of charge throughout the city via strategically placed newspaper boxes and through placement in the most heavily populated office environments. In addition, we mail directly to key business owners, top executives, government officials, media buyers, and other primary influencers. Visit or call 683.NEWS. Or look for us on newsstands throughout the area. We think you’ll agree – there’s not a more powerful advertising vehicle for reaching the city’s professional community.

emphis will be an integral hub in the combined network of Delta and Northwest airlines following a proposed merger between the two companies, Delta CEO Richard Anderson told a packed house in recent weeks at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis. If anything, the merger of the two airline behemoths – expected to be completed by the fourth quarter – will enhance the status and traffic of Memphis International Airport, Anderson said at a breakfast forum hosted by the Memphis Regional Chamber, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Economic Club of Memphis. “The consolidation is about addition, not subtraction,” Anderson said. Anderson said the move could even bring more flights to the city, especially international flights, considering the long list of worldwide cities now served by the two companies. He also noted that the two airlines don’t overlap in national and international network routes as much as Delta and U.S. Airways, which recently failed in a bid to overtake Delta. Instead, he added, the union of Northwest and Delta creates a complementary network that spans the globe and retains a need for strong connection hubs like Memphis. “The places Northwest is strong, Delta has little presence,” Anderson said. “And the places Delta is strong, Northwest has little presence. When you think about a map of the world, you want to cover the map of the world.”


By eRiC sMiTh The Memphis News

TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD NO wORRies: Delta CEO Richard Anderson said Thursday Memphis will be a major hub Anderson pointed to Memphis’ imporwhen Delta and Northwest Airlines finish their merger. tance as a hub airport by citing the recent FedEx Global Supply Chain Services and carrier for Northwest – perhaps bringing disrestructuring at Northwest. After all, if Memchairman of the Memphis Regional Chamber, cord to merger implications in the region. phis was found to be a valuable asset during agreed. He said the issue at hand is about Anderson said that decision will have no and after the company’s bankruptcy, it surely access and connectivity, and the merger bearing on the details of the merger, and that will be a valuable asset after the merger. should help passengers Arnold Perl, chairand cargo get in and man of the Memphisout of Memphis more Shelby County Airport efficiently. Authority (MSCAA), “This combination said the retention of is going to help that,” Memphis as a hub ultiSchmitt said. “There’s mately will hinge on the a reason we endorsed city’s benefits. the deal.” First, its central The deal, of course, location makes it a is far from done, and natural fit for many air a lot will play out over routes. Also, Memphis International Airport – arnold perl the coming months and boasts the shortest Chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority years. First, there’s resisconnection time of tance from officials such any connecting hub in as Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., the chairPinnacle will continue to be an important the U.S., which will be an increasingly vital man of the U.S. House Transportation and part of the Northwest network. consideration for airlines as the cost of fuel Infrastructure Committee, who recently rises. sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice REASONS BEHIND REASONS “The Northwest-Delta merger is great opposing the merger. MSCAA president Larry Cox said he for Memphis, great for the Memphis region, Even Anderson himself noted that the believes the merger will be good for Memgreat for Tennessee and great for the United merger process would be highly regulated phis International, and that Anderson’s States,” Perl said. by the Federal Aviation Administration and comments were in line with discussions he Of course, the airline industry faces nuwould take 18-24 months to work out after and other airport leaders have had with the merous hurdles, and the merger could bring the deal closes by the end of 2008. Delta chief. these to light. The skyrocketing price of oil But, he added, if everything falls into “It was consistent with our conversahas sent some airlines reeling, and the duplace and the consolidation occurs as tions with Delta and Northwest since this plication of routes in the merger could spell planned, the future of air travel here could thing came up,” Cox said. “It gives Memphis reduced service for some markets. be bright. the opportunity to grow even more. We’re And this summer, Delta will end a 10-year “We look forward to many more decades very happy.” contract with Memphis-based Pinnacle of success in Memphis,” Anderson said. n Tom Schmitt, president and CEO of Airlines – which also operates as a regional

“the northwest-delta merger Is great for memphIs, great for the memphIs regIon, great for tennessee and great for the unIted states.”

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Visionary Architect Leaves MpD Gains as Council Imprint on Memphis Design weighs Recruiting Future By BiLL DRies The Memphis News

By ANDY MeeK The Memphis News tiful collegiate setting we enjoy today,” said Brother Robert Werle, curator of art and special collections at CBU. “He later became a donor, helping to continue the work of the education of young men and women and more recently as a benefactor, bestowing on the university many of his personal drawings, photographs and oil paintings.” MOVEMENT MAKERS Reb Haizlip, principal of Haizlip Studio in Memphis, became acquainted with Aydelott via Haizlip’s stint in the mid-1990s as president of the Memphis chapter of AIA. That was around the time Haizlip said he began to pay more attention to Aydelott’s body of work and first got to know him.

“I thInk It’s fIttIng to say that he was probably the most promInent modern archItect – and you mIght say the most promInent archItect – to practIce In memphIs.”

– reb haizlip

Chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority

“The impact he had on the city is just phenomenal,” said Heather Baugus Koury, executive director of the Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Judith Johnson, former executive director of Memphis Heritage Inc., said Aydelott once told her that City Hall was among his favorite buildings he’d designed in the city. As a testament to the design style he promoted, she said modernist-style homes are regularly fetching seven-figure sums around the country. TOUCHING MEMPHIS Modernism is a style of architectural design marked by simplicity and has been regarded as a reaction against the more opulent design styles of A.L. Aydelott previous eras. 1916-2008 “It is very fitting that, in the year of his passing, modernism is finally being recognized as an important style in American architecture by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and by architectural historians everywhere,” Johnson said. Aydelott was born in Arkansas in 1916. After earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois, he moved to Memphis. Among his many career designations, Aydelott served as an architect-in-residence at schools including Yale University. Within the last few decades, the veteran architect also embraced a new artistic medium – painting. Some of his drawings and paintings have been exhibited at Christian Brothers University. That campus is another place in Memphis where the imprint of Aydelott’s design work can be seen. “He served the university in the early years in designing the bell tower, Maurelian and St. Joseph halls, his signature archways and other structures on campus, moving us ... to the beau-

“You’ve got to think about the time,” Haizlip said. “Back in the 1950s and ’60s in post-war America, when there was that surge of industrial pride, there was an ebullience that permeated all of America. The modernist art in architecture movement was a social movement. It was about believing that industrial mechanisms and utilitarian approaches to art and design in architecture could change the world. “These were the post-war guys who really felt like they were on to something. And to be devoted to that meant to fly in the face of the mainstream. Al brought that to Memphis.” Another thing Aydelott brought to the city was a new generation of architects, including Francis Mah and Marty Gorman. Mah is the architect who designed such prominent local landmarks as the First Tennessee building Downtown. “To me, what I think is important that (Aydelott) contributed to Memphis was recognizing and recruiting talent who remained in the city, in the community,” said Gorman, principal at TRO Jung|Brannen, “which had a tremendous impact on the architecture of Memphis since the 1950s and on. It was an honor to work for the man. He was quite a visionary who knew what he was doing and stuck to his guns.” Haizlip said the late architect was someone whose life revolved around his work, which he pursued intently. “He was a fervent believer in the (modernist) movement and what it meant for contemporary America. And the world, for that matter,” Haizlip said. “He was articulate, smart, could sell his work and could convince people of his vision. “I think it’s fitting to say that he was probably the most prominent modern architect – and you might say the most prominent architect – to practice in Memphis.” n


Almost as soon as friends and colleagues of Alfred Lewis Aydelott start talking about him, they make a point of describing him as the father of modern architecture in Memphis. They use words such as visionary, demanding, influential and opinionated. It’s a mix of traits that no doubt was essential for the man who not only designed several prominent buildings in the city – such as Memphis City Hall, the Downtown federal building and Immaculate Conception High School – but who also attracted bright young architects to the area during his career. All of those are reasons why his death earlier this month in California at age 92 arguably marks the end of a life in full for a man whose artistry helped reshape the landscape of Memphis.

hATs AND BADGes ReADY: A recruit class of 50 became the newest Memphis police officers in recent weeks in a ceremony at World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Hickory Hill. The Memphis Police Department grew in recent weeks as 50 new police officers took the oath and received their badges in a ceremony at World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Hickory Hill. The graduation of the 99th class of recruits since formal police training began in 1937 comes as police brass and city leaders continue to talk about the goal of a police force totaling 2,500 men and women in blue. “I can smell your new uniforms,” Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin joked as he addressed the class that underwent 21 weeks of training at the police academy in Frayser. The class began with 87 recruits. Those who drop out or are dismissed during training are a normal part of every class. It is also a challenge in reaching the goal. The city recently dropped the requirement of college education in an effort to reach the goal. “Don’t let anybody say that we lowered the standards for Memphis’ finest. We’ve not lowered the standards. We might have changed some requirements. But the standards, I think, are still there,” Godwin told the recruits. Meanwhile, the net gain for the police force isn’t 50 more officers. Earlier this year, 22 police officers took retirement, which is another constant in the police presence equation. CITY INVESTMENT The Memphis City Council, meanwhile, is weighing a proposal that would allow the department to hire officers who don’t live in Memphis as long as the new officers pay a $1,200 fee to offset the cost of out-of-town recruiting. Some council members want to waive an original requirement that city employees must live in Memphis. The requirement for police officers already has been waived to permit the hiring of officers who live in Shelby County. Council member Harold Collins, who has opposed efforts by others on the council to waive any residency requirement, sponsors the new proposal. “I am a supporter of people working for the city living in the city. However, I am also a supporter of having what I consider the best opportunity to get what we need for our citizens to be safe,” Collins said during the council’s latest debate earlier this month. “For me, it has always been about economics. I firmly believe

that when you live in the city, you invest in the city, you contribute to the tax base.” Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware said the tax base isn’t the issue. “I don’t want you to work for the city and have the Mississippi attitude that you take home at night and go to your secluded place with your family saying, ‘I don’t have to worry about folk in Memphis other than the eight hours I work,’” she said. Council member Edmund Ford Jr. said he has doubts about the constitutionality of such a measure anyway. “It looks as if you want this to be the beginning of possible talk about a payroll tax. But I’m not going to assume that,” Ford said. “I have no problem with voting for a payroll tax. … But I believe that when it was put on the referendum a few years ago, it was poorly advertised.” REPLACE YOURSELF Council member Reid Hedgepeth said the Memphis Police Department easily could recruit south of the state line because many North Mississippi police forces pay less than Memphis. “They don’t have to have college anymore. We’ve reduced all of those requirements. We’re still hovering around the 2,000, 2,100 mark,” Hedgepeth said. “Our kids aren’t safe. The citizens in this city are looking to us for answers. What are we going to do? … We are not getting it done here.” Godwin told the new police officers to do their own recruiting. “Citizens have a God-given right to feel safe in this community. … All you’ve got to do now is tell one person who’s really, really good to come on and be part of our family,” he said. “Let’s get our 2,600 police officers and protect this community and put these thugs where they belong.” He also preached the gospel of Blue CRUSH, the police statistics driven crimefighting strategy. “You are part of Blue CRUSH You are Blue CRUSH. … All it is is putting officers in the right place at the right time on the right day,” Godwin told the new police officers in a speech that was both welcoming and cautionary. “I don’t have to sit here and tell our community or you that we’ve had officers that took the wrong path. Don’t take the wrong path. I’ll lock you up. I didn’t want to sugar coat that too much.” n


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Leveling Foreclosure Rate Could Signal Local Turnaround PHOTO BY ERIC S M IT H

By ERIC SMITH The Memphis News

THE GOOD FIGHT: From left, Donna Owens, Curtis Thomas and Rhonda Rucker of The Works Inc. are fighting the foreclosure problem in Memphis by helping at-risk homeowners. Their efforts – and those of other organizations – led to a decline in foreclosures in Shelby County for May.


oreclosures rose nearly 50 percent nationwide in May compared to the same month a year ago, but locally they increased only 4.9 percent. And foreclosures in Shelby County fell 16.6 percent from April, marking the first decline from the previous month since February. Shelby County registered 509 residential foreclosures in May, the lowest of any month this year. That number was up slightly from the 485 in May 2007 but down significantly from the 610 in April 2008, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, The most recent numbers weren’t a complete surprise to Steve Lockwood, executive director of the Frayser Community Development Corp., who figured word of mouth is finally heightening awareness among homeowners that active measures can halt a foreclosure in its tracks. “So many people know somebody who’s been foreclosed on and the stories are starting to circulate that it (foreclosure) is not inevitable,” he said.

Two mortgages taken at sale totaled 65, Federal Housing Administration loans totaled 62 and Veterans Administration fixed-rate loans totaled 15, rounding out the top five. As for top Shelby County ZIP codes, Lockwood was happy to hear that Frayser’s 38127 no longer led the county in foreclosures – something it’s done nearly every month for the past couple of years. He said he had a gut feeling Frayser’s

The area recorded 64 foreclosures in May 2007 and 53 in April 2008, giving people like Lockwood hope that the trend is turning around.

WORKING IT OUT Lockwood said not only are homeowners seeking counseling earlier in the process, but also lenders are more willing to work with those in jeopardy of default. “There’s still plenty of traffic here, but I do think workouts are getting easier,” he said. “I would love to think it’s because the lenders are seeing the writing on the wall and seeing that the best solution in their interests, as well as the homeowners’ interests, is a workout rather than a foreclosure. We have felt a lot more flexibility from lenders in the last 90 days. And that’s a beautiful thing.” Rhonda Rucker of The Works Inc. also has seen the benefits of lender workouts. Just last week she helped stop a foreclosure in a matter of days by working tirelessly with the bank on a work– Rhonda Rucker out program for her client. Rucker said there are numerous ways to negotiate with a lender, including a special forbearance plan, which includes a down payment and repayment foreclosure numbers would decline in 2008 plan stretched out over a few months; a because he felt the area was finally running loan modification that takes the amount owed and puts it in the back of the loan; or its course. “I’m glad to be relinquishing the lead,” he taking an ARM and lowering the rate and making it fixed-rate either temporarily or said with a laugh. Instead, the leading ZIP for residential permanently. “The lenders are working with us – if the foreclosures was the 38106 ZIP of West Person/Elvis Presley Boulevard in South Mem- clients don’t wait until it’s really, really too phis with 46 foreclosures. Frayser followed it late,” Rucker said. “I’ve had clients come in and their houses are already foreclosed. Of with 42 and Raleigh’s 38128 ZIP with 33. Frayser and Raleigh – usually at the top course, we can’t turn back the hands of time of the county’s leader board for foreclosures at that point.” Time will tell if May is an anomaly or a – saw decreases from the previous month. As Lockwood noted, Frayser has indeed seen its true sign of turnaround for Shelby County’s foreclosure rate. n rate on a downward trend.

“I’ve had clients come in and their houses are already foreclosed. Of course, we can’t turn back the hands of time at that point.”

GAP CLOSING Among Shelby County’s 509 residential foreclosures, 462 came from single-family homes, 17 came from planned unit development-detached homes, nine came from zero-lot-line homes, eight came from condominiums and the rest from other types of properties. Those were nearly all improvements from the previous month: April saw 546 foreclosures from single-family homes, 12 from condominiums, 12 from planned unit development-detached homes and nine from zero-lot-line homes. As for mortgage type, conventional adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) again led the way, although the gap between them and other types has shrunk. There were 95 ARMs in May and 94 conventional fixed-rate mortgages, the top two mortgage types among residential foreclosures.

Inflation Jumps By Biggest Amount Since November MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer WASHINGTON (AP) – Inflation shot up in May at the fastest pace in six months, pushed higher by soaring costs for gasoline and other types of energy. The U.S. Labor Department has reported that consumer prices rose by 0.6 percent last month, the biggest one-month increase since November, as gasoline costs surged by 5.7 percent. Food prices, which also have been rising sharply, were up 0.3 percent as the cost of beef and bakery products showed big gains. Core inflation, however, which excludes energy and food, edged up a more moderate 0.2 percent in May. That increase was right in line with expectations and should help relieve worries that the big increases in food and energy could be breaking through to more widespread inflation. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said the moderate gain in core prices showed price pressures are remaining contained despite fears at the Federal Reserve. The Fed, which from September through April was aggressively cutting interest rates to fight a mounting economic slowdown, is now indicating that its biggest concern has changed from the threat of a recession to worries about inflation. In a recent speech, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed will “strongly resist an erosion of longer-term inflation expectations.” Those comments have raised expectations that the Fed’s next move later this year will be to start raising interest rates. The 0.6 percent rise in overall prices was slightly higher than the 0.5 percent gain economists had been expecting while the 0.2 percent rise in core prices matched expectations. So far this year, consumer prices are rising at an annual rate of 4 percent, compared with a 4.1 percent increase for all of 2007. Energy prices are rising at a 16.5 percent annual rate, compared with a gain of 17.4 percent for all of 2007, while food prices are rising at a 6.3 percent annual rate, up from a 4.9 percent increase for all of last year. Analysts said the pressure in both the energy and food areas is likely to continue as global food shortages and rising demand push food prices up and energy costs continue to soar, reflecting a relentless surge in crude oil prices. The energy increases have pushed the nationwide average for gasoline up to a record of $4.06 and private economists believe that price will keep climbing through the summer driving season. The combination of rising inflation and weak wage gains contributed to another drop in weekly earnings. After adjusting for inflation, weekly earnings for nonsupervisory workers were down 1.2 percent in May, compared to a year ago, the Labor Department said in a separate report. Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. n

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Indoor Sports, Retail Slated for First Tennessee Fields ANDY MEEK The Memphis News

IN THE FORE: An expansion of the First Tennessee Fields baseball park in Cordova into a larger sports complex likely will go before the Memphis-Shelby County Land Use Control Board next month. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE MEMPHIS-SHELBY COUNTY OFFICE OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

The first round of approvals could be granted as early as next month for the developers of a proposed sports complex in Cordova, a project that will dramatically expand the existing 10-diamond First Tennessee Fields baseball park. Plans for the expansion call for the construction of eight buildings on the opposite side of Fischer Steel Road from First Tennessee Fields. Three of the buildings are slated for some combination of retail and restaurant use. An as-yet-unnamed hotel will occupy another building. The remaining buildings will house a variety of sports activities, with everything from hockey rinks to indoor basketball courts. UNDER REVIEW The city-county Land Use Control Board originally had scheduled a hearing on the proposal to occur last week, which would have given the project’s ownership – Gameday Baseball – a chance at acquiring the first development approval it needs. That was delayed for at least another month, however, after planners said they wanted more time to evaluate what could become a pace-setting development in a busy section of Cordova, not far from Germantown Parkway. “The sheer size of the development (25 acres), building footprints (228,200 square feet), requested uses and building arrangements will set the stage for the future redevelopment of the properties to the east, south and west and potentially north,” staffers wrote in a planning report presented to the LUCB. Gameday developed the existing Cordova facility in 2005 and since then has watched families and young athletes from across the country flock to it, said Mark Norris, an attorney with Adams and Reese LLP and a Tennessee state senator. He represents the project’s applicant, Cordova Development Group Inc. The name of the Cordova project is Gameday Sportsplex Planned Development. The plan is for it to expand and complement First Tennessee Fields in a variety of ways,

one of which has to do with seasonality. PLACE FOR EVERY SEASON The new addition is intended to attract different kinds of athletes. And the prospect of indoor courts means the potential for steady, year-round activity, said Don Jones, a planner for the city-county Office of Planning and Development. “This is an opportunity to both work in concert with what’s across the street, but also to operate independent of that,” he said. “You’ve got the ball fields across the street, which are certainly going to be in use in the warmer weather, but this presents the opportunity with indoor areas, gymnasiums, whatever you want to call them – to be year-round and very active even in the fall and winter. “It most likely will come back (to the LUCB) in July, but I hedge on that because one of the reasons we recommended the hold was that the city engineer’s office felt like they needed a detailed traffic study. So it might be that that study takes a little bit longer than the time that we have between now and the July meeting.” A breakdown of the proposal for the sportsplex given to local planners shows two buildings slated for use as a hotel and youth dormitory space, a hockey arena with two rinks for games and open skating for the public, and an eight-court basketball and volleyball arena, among other things. The fact that the roughly 25-acre property is at the virtual center of a Germantown Parkway-Trinity Road-Fischer Steel Study Area local planners are focused on is another reason for the mutually agreed-upon delay of the project’s approval. Planners also want a sign plan to justify the applicant’s request for five signs at 150 square feet each, according to a staff report. Still, the project’s backers believe the sportsplex will quickly find its niche. “It’s really pretty neat,” Norris said about the plan. “First Tennessee Fields has been successful, and so many families have come from all over the country there. The whole youth sports complex idea is one that we think will be a real benefit to West Tennessee as well as Shelby County over there.” n

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Report Finds Tenn. Offered $3 Million To Snag Cyrus Movie NASHVILLE (AP) – Tennessee used more than $3 million in incentives to lure Walt Disney Pictures to film “Hannah Montana: The Movie” in the state. The state Film, Entertainment and Music Commission and its executive director, Perry Gibson, enticed Disney with the money to keep the company from taking the $28 million production about Miley Cyrus’ alter-ego to Louisiana to shoot, The Tennessean newspaper has reported. The Tennessean reported that it reviewed hundreds of Gibson’s e-mail and text messages through a request under the state public records law. Records also indicate that the commission forwarded potential crew resumes to Disney, some with names flagged, to show executives there was enough experienced labor in Tennessee for the company to meet the state’s incentive requirements. Gibson, whom Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed in early 2007, also helped smooth over questions about whether out-of-state cast and crew – including Cyrus and her family – qualified for incentives and personally provided Disney with resumes of Tennesseans in the industry. Gibson told the newspaper in an interview that every production gets the same treatment, but Disney could set an important precedent in persuading other studios to film big-budget features in Tennessee. “We needed one production to come here and do really, really well. If they come to a state, and it goes really, really well, they tell everyone,” Gibson said. “Disney is so tough, and productions like NBC-Universal say, ‘If Disney comes here, we’ll be second.’”



Cockeyed Camel To Be Sold By Month’s End By ROsALiND GUY The Memphis News After owning the popular Cockeyed Camel restaurant for more than 17 years, David Everson has decided to sell it for an undisclosed amount. The restaurant is at 6080 Primacy Parkway. Mike Miller, owner of Patrick’s Restaurant at 4972 Park Ave., is taking over as the new owner at the beginning of July.

“he’s been a great frIend to memphIs musIcIans.” – dean deyo

President of the Memphis Music Foundation

GReAseD pALMs: Singer Miley Cyrus is shown during a May concert in New Jersey. A review by The Tennessean newspaper has found that Tennessee’s Film, Entertainment and Music Commission lured Walt Disney Pictures with $3 million in incentives to shoot “Hannah Montana: The Movie” in Tennessee. Competition for movies has become intense as states increase incentives, said Bill Lindstrom, CEO of the Association of Film Commissioners International. He said Gibson’s efforts demonstrate what must be done in the fight for attention from Hollywood. “(Cyrus is) a perfect example of the sort of work that a film commission does to do that job right and go the extra mile to make sure it’s done right,” he said. Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. n

“The sale has not closed; it’s been announced,” Everson said. “We fully intend and expect everything to go through. We fully expect it to happen July 1.” Dean Deyo, member of local band Legends of Rock and president of the Memphis Music Foundation, praised Everson in an e-mail to band supporters. “For 17 years, David Everson ran one of the best live music, dance and food establishments in Memphis,” Deyo said. “He’s been a great friend to Memphis musicians.” The Cockeyed Camel first opened on Dec. 1, 1976. At that time it was off Poplar Avenue. Everson moved it to its current location in December 2004. “The last two weekends are kind of like my going away party,” Everson said. “The sale will not take place until July 1.” n

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Oak Hall Renovation Under Way To be renamed First Capital Center eRiC sMiTh The Memphis News

After lengthy financing delays from a shaky real estate market, the group planning to renovate the old Oak Hall building at 555 S. Perkins Road Extended is finally moving forward. Glen Bascom Jr., Glen Bascom Sr. and Chris Montesi – the trio who comprise the entity 555 Perkins LLC – have secured a $5.2 million construction loan with U.S. Bank NA to overhaul the 54,265-square-foot office building just south of the intersection at Poplar Avenue and Perkins Road Extended. Construction on the 1966 property began Monday, more than four months after the initial building permit was filed, although the partners’ interest in the property goes back much further. The group bought the ground lease of the building for $1.2 million from LaSalle Bank NA in December 2006, and Bascom Sr. had owned the land since the late 1980s. Bascom Jr. has been champing at the bit to get the project under way, but he understood the hesitance of lenders, in these tight credit times, to front money for a building that’s only 15 percent preleased. “I think a lot of big players are like that,” Bascom Jr. said. “Nobody wants to finance a spec building – either an apartment building, condo building or office building. They want to have tenants in place, and that was the hard part with us – we want to build it first and then get tenants.” LOOKING FOR WARM BODIES Getting tenants is the company’s goal over the next six months during redevelopment of the building, which will be renamed First Capital Center after the anchor tenant. Germantown-based First Capital Bank will occupy 6,000 square feet on the ground floor with a branch that includes a drivethru. The bank joins two existing tenants that are remaining in the four-story building, leaving about 45,000 square feet available for lease. That task is being handled by Joe Steffner, president of the Memphis office of Grubb & Ellis Co. Steffner said he believes the renovated space of a well-known building along Poplar will make it a desirable locale for office users.

“When you compare the price with the amenities and the brand-new space in the building, it will be a relatively easy sell,” he said. “The Poplar corridor is where everyone has wanted to be. Over the past 15 years the market has grown and people have gone to the 385 corridor as kind of the second choice. Over the past several years, the tenants that either couldn’t find space on Poplar or didn’t want to be on Poplar for whatever reason have tended to come back to Poplar.” Bascom Jr. agreed that the location along the high-density Poplar Avenue corridor should keep the First Capital Center insulated from what has been a generally soft market. “Of all the deals that we have out there now, it’s a no-brainer,” Bascom Jr. said. “This one’s going to be successful. It’s a lot of money and time involved over the year or two, but it’s the one I feel most comfortable with of all the projects we’ve got going on.” NEW AND IMPROVED Renaissance Group is architect and Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC is contractor for the project. Chris Ybos of Montgomery Martin said the expected completion date is about six months away. Once the building is finished by the end of the year, it won’t look anything like the structure that formerly housed an Oak Hall clothing store. Upgrades include new HVAC, new roof, new shell, new windows, plus plenty of parking for tenants. Steffner said pricing will be lower than other office space nearby because it’s an older building, but it will recapture the feel of a new product. “It’s hard to take an older building and make it Class A, and yet they’re doing everything possible to make it A,” Steffner said. “It’s hard to argue with the amenities in the building, plus the bank on site. We think it will be an A-minus building with B prices. That will make it competitive. “It’s exciting because it’s like having a brand-new building to lease on a speculative basis at below-market rates. We’ve never had an opportunity like this before. It will have a new name, but it’s a location everyone knows.” n


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FOCUS real estate

Sales Drop 50% Despite Builders’ Best Efforts By Eric Smith The Memphis News Green building isn’t an instant salve for the ailing real estate market, but some local builders are moving in that direction as they continue to cope with slumping home sales. Phil Chamberlain of Chamberlain & McCreery Inc. recently earned the Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation from the National Association of Home Builders, which he hopes will provide another viable option for prospective buyers in these difficult times. “I don’t think it will be the single thing that makes any difference, but certainly when someone compares their existing house to a more energy-efficient home and as energy costs more and more, then it will be a determinant to help them make a decision,� Chamberlain said. Green alternatives or not, fewer people are making the decision to buy a home. Sales by residential builders declined again in May, falling 50 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www. Taking hits Homebuilders sold just 113 homes during the month in Shelby County compared to 226 in May 2007. The latest numbers also marked a slight decline from April 2008, which saw 118 sales. Home values took even bigger hits. The May 2008 average sales value of $272,795 was a drastic dropoff from $315,608 in May 2007 and also from the $310,342 in April 2008. Also, total sales in terms of dollar amount

MARKET FALLING: As homebuilders continue to feel the pinch of a tight market – sales by builders fell 50 percent in May – they might consider alternative building practices such as “green� building, which incorporates more sustainable materials and more energy-efficient systems. for May 2008 was just $30.1 million, down from $71.3 million the same month a year ago and $36.6 million from the previous month. Shelby County’s top builders in May in terms of dollar amount were Barry Watson (eight homes sold totaling $1.5 million); Stephen Hodgkins of Oaktree Homes LLC (three, $1.24 million); Charles Morgan of Vintage Homes (six, $1.22 million); Lenox Homes (six, $1.16 million); and Harrell Homebuilders (two, $1.14 million). The county’s top builders in terms of number of homes sold were Watson with eight; Compass Pointe with seven; and Charles Morgan, Lenox Homes, Chamberlain and Kevin Hyneman with six apiece.

Chamberlain said homebuilders have maintained their focus on shedding inventory, although that’s been a slow process with the flailing consumer confidence and credit crunch. “Everybody is trying to bleed off their old inventory and continuing to wait until we finally reach the apex where the supply is less than the demand,� he said. “My own personal feeling is that we’re rapidly approaching that point. I feel like by the first of the third quarter – July, August, maybe – the inventory will be reduced.� Following the buzz 2008 has been a tough year for builders

to reduce inventory. Year to date through May 31, builders have sold just 575 homes in Shelby County, a 62.8 percent decrease from the 1,546 sold in the same period of 2006 and a 45.56 percent decrease from the 1,055 sold in the same period of 2007. Home values haven’t dropped quite as much – $276,890 in 2008 compared to $264,920 in 2006 and $294,037 in 2007 – but the total dollar amount of $159.2 million this year is way off the 2006 total of $409.6 million and the 2007 total of $310.2 million. Meanwhile, speculative building has all but disappeared for most builders. “You need to have a little bit out there, but we’re going to reduce ours until we get to the point where it’s time to build again,� Chamberlain said. “It will be very slow to come back. We don’t need a big strong spec market. It needs to be a controlled spec market. With the number of builders that have left the market, one way or the other, you’ll see that it will be very structured as we move forward.� Perhaps that’s why Chamberlain and others turning toward green building could turn things around. Despite a more expensive upfront cost, studies have shown green homes save the homeowner in the end, and that should continue to be a strong incentive. “Different things appeal to different people, but certainly with energy costs going up and everybody feeling that on a daily basis, ‘green’ is the big buzz,� Chamberlain said. n

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Jackson Avenue Properties Transformed Into Flea Market 3972 Jackson Ave. Memphis, TN 38128 sale Amount: $1 Million sale Date: May 30, 2008 Buyer: Anthony Joseph Campos Sy, trustee for Anthony Joseph Campos Sy Trust Dated June 26, 2007 seller: MIP Properties, Craig S. Mednikow and Stacy P. Mednikow Loan Amount: $380,000 Loan Date: May 30, 2008 Maturity Date: June 1, 2010 Lender: Craig S. Mednikow and Stacy P. Mednikow



Details: Joseph Sy has added the final piece of the puzzle for his forthcoming open-air flea market on Jackson Avenue. Sy, a developer who spends time in Nevada and Memphis, has bought a 17,686-square-foot retail center at 3792 Jackson Ave., south of the Jackson–Interstate 40 interchange.The retail center sits on 1.58 acres, which fronts roughly 30 acres Sy also owns, and will serve as the centerpiece of the Memphis International Flea Market ( at 4000 Jackson Ave. Sy is making improvements – new landscaping, paint and roof – to the retail center, which will become a food court for the flea market. The center’s existing tenants are moving out to make way for restaurants, Sy said. The flea market eventually will be open Friday through Sunday, although some vendors will be granted seven-day-a-week access to sell their wares. Sy soon will launch a marketing campaign for the flea market, slated to open in August. Until then, he is hosting family garage sales at the site on weekends.Sy said he hopes the flea market will rejuvenate the part of Jackson surrounding it.“We’re doing our best to change the community,” Sy said. “It’s no longer the old place. It’s cleaned up now.”

7787 wolf River Blvd. Germantown, TN 38138 sale Amount: $4.6 Million

4445 stage Road Memphis, TN 38128 sale Amount: $772,000

8039 stage hills Blvd. Bartlett, TN 38133 sale Amount: $1.1 Million

sale Date: May 20, 2008

sale Date: May 30, 2008

sale Date: May 30, 2008

Buyer: SAI Investments Inc.

Buyer: M.J. Edwards Hillside Chapel Inc.

Buyer: Mascom Properties LLC

seller: Germantown Inn and Suites LLC

seller: SCI Tennessee Funeral Services Inc.

seller: MBJ Properties LLC

Loan Amount: $3.8 million

Loan Amount: $772,000

Loan Amount: $892,500

Loan Date: May 20, 2008

Loan Date: May 30, 2008

Loan Date: May 30, 2008

Maturity Date: June 6, 2011

Maturity Date: Aug. 28, 2028

Maturity Date: N/A

Lender: BancorpSouth Bank

Lender: Investment Capital Corp.

Lender: Regions Bank

Details: Oxford, Miss.-based SAI Investments Inc. has bought the 80-room Comfort Inn & Suites in Germantown. The sale closed May 20, with Germantown Inn and Suites LLC – formerly Germantown Best Inns LLC – as seller. The 33,720-square-foot hotel was built in 1996 and sits on 1.63 acres on the southwest corner of Wolf River and South Germantown Road. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $3 million. Rakesh Chaddha and Savita Chaddha signed the trust deed on behalf of SAI Investments.

Details: M.J. Edwards Funeral Home Inc. has bought a vacant funeral home in Raleigh from Houston-based Service Corporation International. Operating as M.J. Edwards Hillside Chapel Inc., the company on June 1 held a grand opening for the new locale, called Stage Road Chapel. The 12,292-square-foot funeral home sits on 3.51 acres at the southeast corner of Stage Road and Beverly Hill Street. The building had been vacant for about five years, said Cedric Collins, location manager for the new M.J. Edwards property. The location made sense for M.J. Edwards Funeral Home, which has two other locations in Memphis – on Elvis Presley and Airways boulevards – plus one in Coldwater, Miss. The Stage Road Chapel allows the company, whose roots date back to 1980, to expand its footprint and fill a need in North Memphis, Collins said. The home has a chapel that accommodates 350 people, as well as two state rooms, which are sitting rooms for families. Collins said the company will consider interior upgrades to the facility in due time. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $1.4 million.

Details: Mascom Properties LLC has bought a 14,332-square-foot office building, which was built in 1998 and sits on 0.78 acres in Bartlett. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $1.1 million. The property is northwest of North Germantown and Stage roads, near St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett. The transaction also included an assignment of leases, rents and incomes on the property to Mascom Properties for the building’s tenants, which include Sylvan Learning Center. Frank Kassela signed the trust deed as chief manager for the company.

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Attorneys Help Locally, Statewide On Pro Bono Front

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Center City Commission 2008 Annual Luncheon

E N Tam E R- 1:15 C IY T COMMISSIO Thursday, July 10, 2008 C 11:30 pm The Peabody Hotel Grand Ballroom

Keynote Speaker

By REBEKAH HEARN The Memphis News Doing pro bono work is not a new concept for Memphis attorneys. But recent efforts by law firms and individuals have brought the need to the forefront. The recent induction of George T. “Buck” Lewis as president of the Tennessee Bar Association, for example, should spark a renewed effort across the state. (See Memphis Law Talk on Page 25 for more.) Locally, two nonprofit organizations are most known for providing pro bono work to those who need legal help but can’t afford it. But those groups, Memphis Area Legal Services and the Community Legal Center, can’t do it all. That’s where local attorneys and firms are stepping up to take on referrals from these two organizations and walk-in pro bono cases, as well as participating in local pro bono clinics. LOCAL CONTRIBUTIONS VITAL MALS sponsors a Saturday Legal Clinic once a month in various locations throughout the city. In addition, the Attorney of the Day clinic is held every Thursday at the Shelby County Courthouse. A number of law firms require or request their attorneys do pro bono work annually. For example, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP requires each attorney to perform 50 hours of pro bono service every year. The firm also participates in the U.S. district court’s pro bono program. If a judge comes across a case that he or she thinks has merit for pro bono work, the case is sent through a special pro bono board, after which, upon approval, that judge or a clerk then will find an attorney who may be willing to volunteer. “If a judge or a clerk calls and says, ‘Look, the judge is wanting someone from your firm to take this case,’ then we’re happy to do it,” said Kristin Wilson, an associate at Wyatt. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC recently instated a formal pro bono program, of which Carla PeacherRyan and Antonio Matthews coordinate the Memphis chapter. Baker Donelson now gives attorneys 20 billable hours for every 20 hours of pro bono work, and has made pro bono work part of each lawyer’s work requirements. “(MALS) had this past year the most successful access to justice campaign that we’ve had,” said Matthews, who serves as president of the organization’s board of directors. “I don’t like to focus on money, but realistically, an organization like MALS is a law firm, and in order for an organization like that to continue, the contribution of those who are capable is necessary.” Matthews said recognition should be given not only to attorneys who do the pro bono work, but also to those who give of their resources “to ensure the primary organization can continue as a pro bono client service provider.”

GOING RURAL Lewis, who is a shareholder at the Memphis office of Baker Donelson, discussed the new statewide pro bono campaign, “4ALL,” during his induction last week. “We are going to take successful programs, like the one in Memphis, and try to replicate it in other counties, where we have a larger low-income population and enough lawyers that it’s practical to put together courthouse clinics and Saturday clinics,” he said. Some of those places are Madison County to the east and the counties adjacent to Shelby, such as Fayette and Tipton. The challenge, Lewis said, comes in the rural communities where the number of needy people is higher than the number of attorneys. As president of the TBA, Lewis said he wants to set up phone and e-mail banks in rural places, where a person in need of legal assistance could e-mail a question to an attorney or call a toll-free number and receive the same help. “We hope to be collaborating with local bars and young lawyers, even in urban areas, to help serve the rural need,” Lewis said. “That’s a creative thing that we’ve not really done before.” ORGANIZED EFFORT The TBA has passed through its board of governors four new ethics rules for pro bono work. One establishes an annual 50-hour pro-bono goal. A second rule allows in-house corporate counsel to perform pro bono work, even if they aren’t licensed in Tennessee. The third rule would remove the conflict of interest ethics rule for limited scope representations, meaning that lawyers would not have to do a conflict check with their firm to assist clients at a pro bono clinic. The fourth rule asks the Tennessee Supreme Court to request lawyers to keep track of how much pro bono work they are doing, and where it is being done. “We have 15,000 lawyers (in Tennessee), and let’s say they (each) just did 25 hours a year, and if you valued it at $200 an hour, that’s $75 million worth of time that Tennessee lawyers are doing in pro bono,” Lewis said. “But that data is just not being collected right now and we want to try to start to collect it, (so) we can know where the work is being done and where the need is the most unmet.” This summer, the state Supreme Court will view the package of access to justice ethics rules passed by the board. However, pro bono work isn’t about a list of ethics rules. “Just because a person can’t afford private counsel doesn’t mean they don’t need legal help,” Wilson said. “As attorneys, we have an ethical responsibility to the public.” n


Maurice Cox

National Endowment for the Arts Director of Design Limited seating RSVP by July 3 by completing the online registration form at $55 per person $500 per table of 10 In addition to his role as NEA’s Director of Design, Maurice Cox is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture and is a 2004-05 recipient of the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He recently completed eight years on the Charlottesville (VA) City Council with the last two years as the city’s mayor. As mayor, professor, and noted urbanist, he was widely recognized as the principal urban designer of his city. His reputation as a design leader and innovator led to his being featured in Fast Company as one of America’s “20 Masters of Design;” on CBS news magazine “60 Minutes;” in the documentary film This Black Soil; and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Architecture Magazine -- all for his ground-breaking use of design as a catalyst for social change.

Generously made possible by:

Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects The Memphis Regional Design Center For more info, visit or call 901.575.0546

save the date

AIA Memphis

Dining By Design 2008 save the date

a chapter of the American Institute of Architects

Saturday August 23, 2008 7:00 - 10:00 pm premiere Cotton Row residence in historic Downtown Memphis


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Kumar’s Proposed Lamar Ave. Motel Gets Nod at Last By ANDY MEEK The Memphis News Two years ago, developer Jay Kumar began his effort to build a new upscale motel off Lamar Avenue. He finally got the green light this week. To reach that point, it took several meetings with elected officials and appearances before local government bodies. He frequently encountered rejection and resistance as he doggedly attempted to pitch his idea. The city-county Land Use Control Board, for example, said no to a version of the motel plan Kumar presented to the group in 2006. They approved a modified concept earlier this year. At the first LUCB meeting, homeowners and other area residents turned out in full force to voice their opposition. Applause rang out more than once as a few of the opponents took turns addressing the LUCB. Kumar also had to persuade neighborhood groups and community representatives – people he ended up spending two years trying to win over – that his proposed motel wouldn’t attract criminal activity or ever become an eyesore. Still, a contingent of opponents from residential areas surrounding the intersection of Lamar and Dunn avenues – which is where Kumar’s 35-room motel will be built – showed up to most every government meeting in which the project was discussed. THE WHY AND HOW OF IT To anyone who would listen, Kumar repeatedly pointed to his motel’s price tag, which he said will cost between $2 million and $2.5 million to build, to prove that his interest is more than perfunctory. He convened several neighborhood meetings, the most recent of which was earlier this month. In those meetings, Kumar made the case for his project, listened to suggestions and looked for room to compromise. But despite all that, the final decision still came down to the 13 people sitting atop the dais in the Memphis City Council chambers last Tuesday at City Hall. And as many developers over the years have come to learn firsthand, that body has a notorious aversion to motel development. That’s especially true when it comes to property along Lamar, where several motels already are within a short drive of Kumar’s site and many of which have become hotbeds of criminal activity. “While I’m all in favor of economic development in our communities,” City Council member Janis Fullilove told Kumar a few weeks ago, “I know that area like the back of my hand. And I know there are many problems in that particular area. I’m curious why that area was selected.” Kumar’s answer: It’s about the numbers. THE RATIONALE Besides dabbling in real estate development, Kumar is the owner of local cab companies Metro Cab and Advantage Cab. So the language of customer traffic patterns, distances and drive times is one Kumar speaks every day and through which he earns a living. “We picked that location because it’s

seven-and-a-half minutes from the airport, seven-and-a-half minutes from Midtown and eight minutes from Downtown,” Kumar told The Daily News. His business plan calls for rates of at least $85 a night. One of his competitors in the area, nearby Super 8 general manager Sam Patel, told council members that rate wouldn’t be sustainable on Lamar. Kumar disagrees. He points to the Holiday Inn Express off American Way between Getwell and Cherry roads as having rates of more than $100 a night. The City Council had planned to vote last month on approving a special use permit for Kumar’s motel, which will be a Vista Suites franchise location. The council delayed that action to give more time for Kumar to build a broader consensus for his project. A COMPETITOR’S OPINION At the council’s meeting last month, Patel was one of the people who opposed the idea. His standing with the council soon diminished, however, when he inadvertently dismissed Kumar’s planned room rates by discussing his own practices. Patel told the council the only time he ever charges as much as Kumar planned to charge is when the Church of God in Christ annual convention comes to town. More than one council member said Patel needs to correct that practice. Meanwhile, Samuel Turner, the architect for Kumar’s project, said the backers of the motel held a meeting with area residents at a Lamar church earlier this month and that more than 30 people showed up. Turner told council members a poll was taken of those present and it found a 4-to-1 ratio in favor of the project. A petition also was on hand at last Tuesday’s council meeting that included 200 signatures of project supporters. “During the construction, we’re going to employ about 130 people,” Turner said to the council. “This project is going to create 25 new jobs.” OPPORTUNITIES MUST BE SEIZED Once the council’s final vote was taken and Kumar’s project approved, applause could be heard in the council’s chambers. Kumar’s bid to develop the motel, however, still did not find across-the-board support, despite the council’s approval. In a council committee that Tuesday, Turner said 32 people attended the community meeting held earlier this month to talk about the project. “That’s not a community meeting when you have 32 participants,” said councilman Joe Brown. “The populace in that area – that’s not the total community. That was only 32 people who came to a meeting.” Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware said she was satisfied with the meeting. “I’m glad there was a meeting. Whenever you have a community meeting, you have it with whomever shows up,” she said. “You would hope more people show up, but that’s their opportunity to voice their opinion.” n

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Despite National Application increase, Local Mortgage Activity Falters eRiC sMiTh The Memphis News Mortgage applications have increased nationwide, but mortgage loans in Shelby County continued their downswing in May as lenders grappled with tightened guidelines and weary consumers. The Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association in recent weeks released its weekly mortgage applications survey for the week ending June 6: It revealed a 10.9 percent increase in applications from the previous week across the U.S. But the mortgage figures continue to lag locally. In May, lenders made just 887 mortgages in Shelby County, a 40.7 percent decline from the 1,495 in May 2007 and a 9.4 percent decline from the 979 in April 2008, according to the latest Lender Analysis data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, Pat Sandlin, president and CEO of Community Mortgage Corp., said the dropoff is a direct result of tightened credit, which was widely available until the subprime fiasco hit the housing market last year. “We’re seeing a lot of people come in and apply for mortgages, and they’re not being granted,” Sandlin said. “In the older days – meaning the last two, three, four years – because of the subprime industry, they could get a loan no matter who they were. So we are turning more and more down. Our fallout ratio, application-wise, is a fairly high number. There are still quite a few people who

want to buy. They just aren’t credit-quality at this time.” CONTRACTION In addition to fewer mortgages being made locally, the average mortgage amount and total dollar volume dropped in May. Local Mortgages averaged $149,668 in the month, down from the May 2007 average of $153,598 and also from the April 2008 average of $159,265. Chandler Reports tracks mortgages taken at the time of sale, and counts do not include refinancings. And May’s total dollar volume of $132.8 million was down from the May 2007 total of $229.6 million and the April 2008 total of $155.9 million. Greg Ellenburg, district manager for First Tennessee Home Loans and secretarytreasurer for the Memphis Mortgage Bankers Association, said part of the problem in the mortgage realm has been Realtors and builders reacting slowly to the change in lending. “They got accustomed to people being able to buy homes without down payments and with bruised credit scores being a little more tolerated,” Ellenburg said. “The secondary markets contracted and changed that, so it’s natural that you’re going to see a loss of a certain segment of the population – call it 10 percent or call it whatever you want – that do not have the assets required for a 5 to 10

percent down payment, so they’re out of the market. We’ve seen a contraction because of that.” Year to date, that contraction has been severe. Lenders issued 4,590 mortgages through May 31, a 34.8 decrease from the 7,039 mortgages issued during the same period of 2007. Also, the average mortgage amount has decreased from $151,656 year to date in 2007, to $147,463 year to date in 2008. HIT REWIND Shelby County’s top five lenders for May in terms of dollar amount were First Tennessee Bank NA (57 mortgage loans totaling $9.5 million), Wells Fargo Ltd. (52, $9.42 million), Magna Bank, formerly known as 1st Trust Bank for Savings (49, $9.37 million), SunTrust Mortgage Inc. (40, $8.4 million), and Community Mortgage Corp. (53, $7.8 million). Most lenders were down slightly from the previous month and from the same month a year ago, but mortgage bankers are quick to point out that the tightening of guidelines doesn’t mean mortgages can’t be made – only that they need to be done right. “Everybody has to conform to the guidelines and there are no exceptions,” Sandlin said. “We are going through a period of readjustment – I won’t say ‘tight credit’; we’re really just back to the way it really was and was supposed to be to begin with. We’re just using the original guidelines that we were supposed

to be using. It’s like turning the clock back 10 years. All these policies and procedures aren’t new ones; they’ve just been restated and reinforced. That’s it.” Chris Bowers, mortgage loan officer at Bank of America and president of the MMBA, echoed those sentiments. “We are going back five or 10 years and we are having to qualify folks more traditionally,” Bowers said. “It’s like someone hit a rewind button on the mortgage industry.” n


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THIS IS THE STORY OF TWO POLITICIANS. Veterans of the trade and outlaws of the trade. If anyone ever gets around to writing a true history of Memphis politics, Rickey Peete and Joe Cooper will be in it. They might not have as many chapters as the Ford family or Willie Herenton. But their chapters might be just as intriguing. And they’ll share one of those chapters between themselves.

It was called that because no one can sit at the head of a round table. There was no absolute leader. It was a political gathering of equals that included such thennewly minted political figures as Ulysses Jones, now a veteran state legislator, and Shep Wilbun, former City Council member, Shelby County Board of Commissioners member, Juvenile Court clerk and mayoral contender. The Roundtable challenged such established political figures as City Council member J. O. Patterson Jr. and state Rep. Harper Brewer – outside the considerable reach of the Ford machine. Peete parlayed CUTEC into a successful campaign for a seat on the city school board. At the time, the school board wasn’t the stepping stone to other offices it has proven to be in recent years. But Peete had more in mind than the unique and delicate politics of school system policy. Like others who would follow, he knew school board members represented the same seven districts City Council members did. Nowhere in city government does such an obvious path to political advancement exist. And for quite a while it was the path that school board members may have considered privately, but few took.

Long before he became a major figure in the city’s colorful and sharp-edged political world, Rickey Peete was causing a stir in the blue-collar, rough-and-tumble political environment of North Memphis. It was as a student at Northside High School that Peete gained his first public exposure, leading student walk-outs during the Black Monday protests of 1969. The protests were part of a bitter civic discussion about the need for black representation on the Memphis City Schools Board of Education. From then on, Peete never let himself be forgotten in an area of the city where the politics is grassroots and the grass gets walked on a lot. Politics is practiced in barber shops, storefronts and from the pulpits of small churches nestled in working-class neighborhoods. Yard signs aren’t an adornment. They are a declaration that will be made repeatedly no matter how many times the signs disappear. Streets mark the boundaries between communities with names like Bearwater, Bickford, Douglass and Klondike that aren’t found on maps. Some of the neighborhoods are so blighted the geography can be a matter of referring to where things used to be. ROOTS IN GRITTY SOIL A Morehouse College graduate who lived in Atlanta after graduation, Peete returned to North Memphis in the 1980s as head of an anti-crime group called Citizens United To End Crime (CUTEC). That’s where he began the framework of an informal political network called The Roundtable.


Peete is re-elected to a third consecutive term on the City Council.

Cooper runs again for the Democratic nomination for County Commission District 5 and loses.
















peete-cooper timeline: dates with destiny Korreco Green, whom Cooper helped launder drug money, is indicted for the murder of Derrick Evans.

Cooper runs for and wins the Democratic nomination for County Commission District 5. He wins by one vote. He loses in the general election to Republican nominee Bruce Thompson.

Cooper runs for Memphis City Council and loses. Peete is re-elected to a second consecutive term on the council.

Peete is quit claimed a home off McLean Boulevard by developer Rusty Hyneman, who six months later buys and eventually sells Peete’s old home on Maury Street. Five years later, a special prosecutor investigates the transaction but recommends no criminal charges.

Cooper runs for General Sessions court clerk against incumbent John Ford and loses. Cooper begins the campaign as an employee of the clerk’s office.

Cooper runs for city court clerk and loses. Peete is elected to one of the super district City Council seats in his second try for elected office since his release from prison.

Cooper runs for Shelby County register of deeds and loses.

Peete goes to work on Beale Street and becomes executive director of the Beale Street Merchants Association. His first bid for elected office out of prison is a defeat, losing a bid for his old North Memphis district seat to incumbent Barbara Swearengen Holt (now Ware).

Peete is convicted of taking bribes from developers seeking approval for a project from the Memphis City Council. He serves two years in federal prison.

Peete is elected to the Memphis City Council.

Peete is elected to the Memphis City Schools board.

Rickey Peete founds Citizens United To End Crime (CUTEC), after returning to Memphis from Atlanta.

Cooper resigns from the Shelby County Board of Commissioners following his conviction on federal bank fraud charges. He serves four months in prison. Cooper emerges from prison with several business ventures but soon returns to local politics and eventually to the pursuit of elected office.

Joe Cooper is elected to the Shelby County Quarterly Court.

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Seeing and being seen In Peete’s case, his council peer was Patterson, who was one of the charter council members elected in 1967 when the city switched from a commission form of government to the current mayor-council form. The son of the presiding bishop of the Church of God In Christ and grandson of the founder of the Pentecostal denomination, Patterson was by then a part of the political establishment. He was among the three black members on the body who played a key role in the city’s 1968 sanitation workers’ strike. The former state representative served as the city’s first black mayor for 20 days after the 1982 resignation of Wyeth Chandler by virtue of his role as City Council chairman. Patterson finished ahead of Dick Hackett in the 1982 special election that followed Chandler’s resignation. But because Patterson didn’t get a majority of the votes, he and Hackett advanced to a runoff that Hackett won. A 1991 law abolished runoffs in Memphis mayoral and City Council elections. Just a few years after that, Patterson was ripe for an upset and Peete had the energy to do something Patterson had started to do less often: be seen all over the district, where it probably counts the most politically. Patterson discovered he had been out-campaigned in enough time to decide not to seek re-election in 1987. With that win under his belt, Peete helped Ulysses Jones engineer a similar upset of the area’s state representative, Harper Brewer. Brewer, however, didn’t go as quietly, as he remained in the race. Jones, a firefighter, upset the incumbent and Peete became more than a lone political entity. Down and dirty politics Peete brought the same high-volume advocacy to the council that had stood out on the school board. On the council, though, he was in his element. Bruised feelings weren’t the risk they had been on the board. But there were bruised feelings in other arenas. He had confronted some ministers who strayed from what Peete saw as the political organization that had brought much-needed attention to the area after years of neglect. One of the first indications that something much deeper was wrong was a sign in a campaign headquarters Peete was running for another political protégé out of a one-time 7-11 along Jackson Avenue. The hand-lettered sign warned campaign workers, “What is said here

PRESSING THE FLESH: Joe Cooper, center, campaigning in 1972 for a seat on what was then the Shelby County Quarterly Court. Cooper, with then-wife Barbara, right, and state House candidate Ed Williams, campaigning at the annual St. Peter’s Fourth of July picnic in Midtown, a mandatory stop on the campaign trail during those years.


does not leave here.” That may be a rule in most political campaigns. But it is a rule seldom seen posted amidst the bright colors, heroic portraits and slogans that are the public face of a campaign. There will be time enough for reality to intrude and that time is usually when the poll workers start to line up for their pay, which is about the time they figure out the vote totals they’ve brought back to headquarters mean they worked for a loser. It can be a jarring sight – grim-faced mercenaries who have been in the summer heat or fall rain since 7 a.m. standing rigidly as the guests arrive with hopeful expressions and evening wear.


Peete Statement Of Facts Excerpts: “During this conversation, Peete said, ‘I’m going to do what’s right for the community. ... It looks OK to me,’ and then Peete showed Cooper a note written on a piece of paper. The note instructed Cooper to place the ‘paperwork’ (money) in the bathroom.”

The first wire It took about a year in office for the major problem to surface. A developer called the FBI saying Peete had asked for money to vote for a development that needed council approval. The developer agreed to wear a wire to record future conversations with Peete. When Peete was charged, fellow council members were outraged and then even more outraged when Peete refused to step down. Peete defiantly insisted he was innocent. If, during those weeks before his trial, someone called Peete at home and got his answering machine, the caller was greeted by the Sly and the Family Stone song “Stand.” “There’s a midget standing tall and a giant beside him about to fall,” its lyrics said. In case the point was missed or the caller just liked the beat, Peete repeated that line before telling callers to leave a message. What Peete said on the other tapes, the ones he didn’t know he was on, were the heart of the federal corruption case that sent Peete to prison for two years. There was Peete almost whispering in the confines of his tiny council office with paper-thin walls that didn’t even go all the way to the ceiling, “Are you wearing a wire?” There was the now-storied final payoff meeting in the Shoney’s restaurant on Union Avenue in Midtown where Peete instructed the developer to hand him the cash under the table – FBI agents inside and outside monitoring the moves. Outside they took photos as Peete left, drove away and went to an apartment where the money vanished. Before the

“He asked, ‘You feel comfortable with everything?’ and if they had to worry about ‘those folks … alphabet boys.’ Peete then wrote on his hand, and when Cooper indicated that he could not read the note, Peete wrote ‘FBI’ on a sheet of paper.” “After discussing the council meeting, Cooper wrote ‘4K’ and ‘5K’ on a sheet of paper and said, ‘You pick which one you think you’d rather have.’ Peete wrote a mark by the ‘5K’ figure and said, ‘Him, he’s a good fellow.’” “Peete asked if Cooper was getting ‘nervous’ and said, ‘We’re like blood.’ Cooper replied, ‘We’re under the radar the way this works.’ Cooper then said, ‘You have to go to the king (pointing at Peete) to get the land developed.’” “Peete told Cooper that he had been warned that Cooper was cooperating with the authorities and that he did not believe this. Cooper told Peete that he had found other backers for the measure. Peete assured Cooper that he would support it.” All statements taken from Statement of Facts, U.S. vs. Rickey Peete, 06-20466, filed June 20, 2007, U.S. District Court Clerk’s office.


Bruce Thompson pleads guilty to corruption charges.

Cooper is the star witness in Ford’s extortion and bribery trial in Memphis federal court. After eight hours of deliberation, the jury acquits Ford of all charges.


Peete is sentenced to four years and three months in prison by federal Judge Hardy Mays.

Bruce Thompson is indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges stemming from his work as a consultant for two construction companies seeking the contract to build three new Memphis city schools.

Cooper pleads guilty to money laundering.

Cooper and Peete meet to talk about a deal to replace the head of the local Board of Adjustment. Peete tells Cooper he can’t lead the effort but will support it. Cooper pays him $2,500 by leaving it in the Merchants Association office restroom. Cooper leaves and federal agents arrest Peete with the money in his pocket as well as notes with dollar amounts that he and Cooper exchanged.

Peete, at a Beale Street party in advance of the next night’s boxing exhibition between Mayor Willie Herenton and former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, talks about his coming bid for mayor in the 2007 Memphis elections.






09.12.2006 Cooper pays Peete $3,000 in cash left in the restroom of the Beale Street Merchants Association office. It is the first of four payments totaling $14,500 recorded by Cooper for the FBI.

Cooper’s home is searched by federal authorities.

08.06.2006 Cooper arranges to meet Green in East Memphis. Green doesn’t show. In his place are a dozen federal agents who surround Cooper and take him to a nearby hotel room. After talking to him, they leave him alone in the room for a half hour to decide whether he will cooperate.



Green is arrested at his home by police officers investigating a stolen car report. Green tells authorities Cooper helped him and another drug dealer buy five cars that were registered in the names of other people using drug money. Green agrees to cooperate and wear a wire to record conversations with Cooper. In the recorded conversations, Cooper indicates that he knows he is dealing with drug traffickers.

Green and a dozen other suspected drug dealers are arrested by federal authorities as they unseal an indictment returned in July. Green tells his FBI handlers that he and another drug dealer had worked in Cooper’s most recent campaign for County Commission.


03.21.2006 Cooper is questioned by FBI agents about car sales to City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. and Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks while he worked at Bud Davis Cadillac.


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prosecution could go into more detail about where the money might have gone, there was a bench conference and no further mention of it. It was one of the swiftest convictions by a federal court jury in recent memory. U.S. Attorney Hickman Ewing personally prosecuted the case and recorded in his notes that the jury deliberated an hour. It was between the verdict and the sentencing that Peete resigned. But before going to prison, he hung around for what was a final show of defiance – shaking hands with Wilbun, whom the council appointed as his replacement – a member of the Round Table. Not exactly Camelot Once transferred to the Millington federal work camp, Peete was seen occasionally playing basketball. But before his transfer there, he had met the son of a homebuilder from Southaven – Rusty Hyneman. Hyneman was serving time for a drug offense. It was a connection that Peete would keep after both had done their time. Peete emerged from prison with nothing, or what seemed to be nothing. The rest of the Round Table was doing well. Wilbun had been elected to the council. Jones had brought along another firefighter, Larry Miller, to the state House of Representatives. Peete’s first job on the outside was as a doorman at Alfred’s on Beale Street, and in the first sign of a political comeback, he parlayed that into

known as the marrying squire because he often performed wedding ceremonies using one of the more obscure powers of members of the court. He sometimes performed the civil ceremonies in between other business he tended to in the commission office. Sometimes he would even answer the phone during the ceremonies and tell the caller to hold on. Cooper, whose father had been in the restaurant business and made his mark with box lunches that were a Memphis culinary tradition, got the press buildup most white and young politicos got in the late 1960s and early ’70s. There were plenty of pictures with the family, posed photos with other office holders, lots of loud neck ties with big knots. Cooper was among those caught in a wave of federal corruption cases in the late 1970s that rocked county government just as the then-new office of county mayor was created. In Cooper’s case, he was convicted of loan fraud and, like Peete would later, served a minimal sentence in a minimum security prison. It was on the grounds of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Also like Peete, Cooper never said he was sorry. He often boasted that for a time his cell mate at Maxwell had been former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, sentenced to Maxwell for his role in the Watergate scandal as head of President Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election committee. In his own slow-walking and slow-talking

Peete had plenty of name recognition, and he and others discovered that in Memphis politics there is rarely such a thing as bad name recognition. The one exception to that axiom is the political leper who would ultimately cause Peete’s second political downfall.

The Little Politician Who Couldn’t Cooper knew that at a certain level he always would be a political pariah. His hope had been that it would fade to some degree. Either way he didn’t let that deter him from running for numerous offices over the years. Year after year with backing from developers including Hyneman and the late William B. Tanner, Cooper ran doggedly for office when he wasn’t working directly for them. The more he ran the more he became the person most surprised at the outcome. One forlorn election night found Cooper alone among a crowd of tourists at an outdoor bar on Beale Street just an hour or two after the polls had closed. As a soft rain began to fall, Cooper declared he was finished with running for office and turned away to face the bartender. The backdrop for the declaration was understandable. Cooper had tried to become a part of the entertainment district’s community. But he had made it only to the fringes. His plans to open a club in the old Lansky’s building on the other side of Second Street from what is officially the Beale Street Historic District had a plausible business plan. It would be built around the name, image and occasional shows by Jerry Lee Lewis. Unfortunately for Cooper, he had just announced his new venture as Lewis decided to take indefinite refuge in Ireland because of tax troubles. Jerry Lee Lewis’s Spot didn’t have Jerry Lee Lewis. Still later there was an attempt to open a club on the other fringe of the district, Fourth Street and Beale, in what is now the Plush Club. Cooper was more mysterious about this venture.

THE COMEBACK: Rickey Peete won re-election to the Memphis City Council in 1995. The comeback came after his release from prison and a failed attempt to reclaim his old district council seat. Peete next ran for and won a super district council seat.

THE FALL: Joe Cooper in 1976 at the start of the federal investigation that would eventually lead to his convinction on loan fraud charges. Cooper’s case was one of several high-profile corruption cases in the mid-1970s.

‘Poor old Joe’ Peete’s return to the City Council was the kind of political comeback Cooper sought for more than 30 years. Cooper had been elected to the Shelby County Quarterly Court, the predecessor of the County Commission, in the 1970s. He was

way, Cooper was relentless. Dodge his phone calls and Cooper would start leaving messages that began, “This is poor old Joe Cooper.”

a position as director of the Beale Street Merchants Association. His organizational skills served the merchants well and soon they had a more unified stance in dealing with Beale Street management after years of the business owners fighting their battles one on one. Without so much as an apology, Peete ran again for his district seat. But he found that Barbara Swearengen Ware was a tougher adversary than he imagined. Ware, a proud Douglass High School alumna, knew as well as Peete how to campaign in North Memphis and came with her own voting block, albeit from a different part of North Memphis than Peete’s Klondike area. Her defeat of Peete was enough to convince him to give up on the idea of returning to his district. He settled instead on one of the new super district council seats formed in the wake of the 1991 federal court case that eliminated the run-off provision and the old at-large or citywide council seats. The two super districts divide the city into two with three council members for each half. It’s a convoluted enough idea that many voters might not be as sure about how it works as they are about which names they recognize. Peete had plenty of name recognition, and he and others discovered that in Memphis politics there is rarely such a thing as bad name recognition. The one exception to that axiom is the political leper who would ultimately cause Peete’s second political downfall – Joe Cooper.

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But not mysterious enough to hide the plan to turn it into a strip club. It was just across the street from not just a church, but First Baptist Church on Beale, the longest-standing black Baptist church in Memphis. Cooper denied it was to be a strip club despite having the new name of the club, “Knockers,” posted on a sign outside the building that included a line drawing of a woman’s torso – covered, of course. Jude the Obscure Cooper may have given up on the nightclub business, but he never gave up on running for office. And his now-chosen profession of administrative assistant to millionaire developers didn’t conflict with his political goals. If yard signs had been the mark of political success, Cooper would have been E.H. Crump’s equal. Except he had a penchant for occasionally putting his larger signs in yards on major thoroughfares without the owners’ permission. And in Cooper’s case, the more people he met, the more damage he did to whatever name recognition he had. Cooper would get upset when news accounts about his latest political pilgrimage inevitably got around to why he was a former county commissioner. He wasn’t above telling a reporter that editors at a much higher level had assured him there would be no mention of his criminal past. Cooper bragged about the number of yard signs placed and had the statistics to prove it the way other politicians tout ward and precinct numbers. He expressed much pride in a deal in which he got his name to run in the digital message that rolls by on gas pumps. He took the efficiency to the next level when he put the slogan “It’s time – now” on campaign signs that he used over the course of several different campaigns. Republicans seized on Cooper’s notoriety. Then-party chairman and future U.S. Attorney David Kustoff rhetorically and pointedly asked at one rally, “Time for what, Joe?” Welcome to the jungle In a city where one eccentric yet perennial candidate, Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, routinely promised public executions in Court Square and the conversion of Mud Island into a prison surrounded by sharks, Cooper’s promises were merely unusual. He promised a Kia car plant for Frayser at a time when Tanner owned a Kia dealership. Cooper plotted a casino for Mud Island that would be built minus the red tape in the Tennessee Constitution and the bother of legislative approval from Nashville. It would be a NativeAmerican casino. It didn’t bother Cooper that he had picked the one piece of real estate that did not exist when the tribes were in possession of what is now Memphis. When Cooper won the Democratic primary for a County Commission seat by one vote, sarcastic political operatives started calling him Joe “Landslide” Cooper. Cooper took the additional publicity as the best publicity – any. But he again proved to be his own worst enemy with a pledge to sell off parts of Shelby Farms Park and making it stick in the memory of voters by making the bison that roam a section of the massive park near Walnut Grove Road the symbol for what he saw as the need to develop the land. In a city where Interstate 40 was stopped because it would have gone through Overton Park, it was a fatal self-inflicted wound. Cooper would never get that close again. He was beaten by Republican Bruce Thompson, who made a point of sticking with an old clothupholstered chair after several other commissioners got new leather ones. Cooper’s money woes began to mount after Tanner’s death. Even before that Tanner had ceased to be a financial sponsor of the Cooper political crusades.

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The rules of the game Peete’s ambitions, meanwhile, were on the rise. They now involved more than a comeback. Hyneman, his acquaintance from prison, had become the county’s most prolific homebuilder and contributor to City Council campaigns. Hyneman also had helped Peete buy a house on North McLean Boulevard through a quit claim deed and helped Peete sell his previous home by buying it from him. It took five years for the real estate deal to become public knowledge and resulted in Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons appointing a special prosecutor to investigate it. The prosecutor, former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director John Carney, found no basis for seeking criminal charges. Peete weathered the brief storm and, after winning re-election in 2003, began planning a bid for city mayor – a challenge to Herenton if need be – to prove that now that he was firmly back in the game, he was better than he had been before his first fall. Peete would run as the mayor who could manipulate the council thoroughly – a political professional. Herenton was aware of Peete’s ambitions. He tested Peete’s sense of humor at a ribbon cutting for April Woods East, mixed-income apartments at Chelsea Avenue and Breedlove Street, in the inner city of North Memphis. On a November day in 2006, Peete was in full political stride as he walked into the small model unit for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Herenton had arrived earlier and took note of how focused Peete was. Before anyone else had a chance to start sizing up the two imminent adversaries, Herenton stood and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Rickey Peete.” Peete was puzzled for a split second before he accepted, albeit warily, and smiled genially at the mayor from across the room. It was already too late, but Peete and probably Herenton had no idea just how late. No average Joe Cooper had been pursuing a sales career with the same oddity that marked his political ventures. As a freelance salesman for Bud Davis Cadillac, Cooper eschewed the personal touch by hiring someone to pass out his cards at the gates of the Memphis Italian Festival. Car sales seemed to be the new direction for Cooper until federal prosecutors hauled in one of the frequent busts they make of large drug organizations. Among the defendants was Korreco Green, who offered them the man who sold him several vehicles as a way to launder drug money. It was Cooper. Cooper had hooked Green in one of his complicated car lease schemes. The luxury car was leased in someone else’s name with Green paying the note. But Green fell behind on his payments. “I was having to eat it and I couldn’t find him,” was the way Cooper put it in May when he testified in Memphis federal court. In his own intrepid way, Cooper found Green but was unaware that a Drug Enforcement Administration task force had found Green first. He knew the DEA had seized the car after Cooper reported it stolen. Cooper’s report forced the federal investigation to surface before the drug agents had been prepared to act. Cooper filed a claim with the government seeking both the car and the cash found in it as his. On Aug. 6, 2006, he arranged to meet Green on the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly store on White Station Road near Poplar Avenue. Green didn’t show. “Instead of him showing up, 12 guys with the FBI and the DEA showed up and surrounded me,” Cooper testified. “I thought it was a joke. I asked, ‘Who put you up to this?’ Obviously it wasn’t a joke.” Continued on page 30

No Intersection In Ford, Peete Conversations Joe Cooper’s most critical time in the public eye wound up being the worst beating his credibility has taken in more than three decades. Cooper was the government’s key witness in the May corruption trial of former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. As Cooper was wearing a wire for the FBI and recording the cash payments he made to Edmund Ford Sr. Peete, he also was doing the same with Ford. Unlike Peete, Ford took the government to trial and won. A jury acquitted Ford May 21 of all six extortion and bribery counts. Several jurors said Cooper’s demeanor on the witness stand and his rapid fire recorded conversations with Ford, bringing up several business deals at once, were a factor. The recorded conversations with Peete are not public since the case did not go to trial and the recordings were not used. But parts of the Peete-Cooper transcripts are included in the paperwork from Peete’s admission of guilt. No mixed messages Cooper never mentioned Ford in the conversations with Peete. And he only mentioned Peete once in the Ford conversations, saying Peete wanted to put off the billboard vote until after the 2007 city elections. Cooper referred to each as “Godfather” for their ability to get things passed before the council. And neither Peete nor Ford had any qualms about doing nongovernmental business with developers who had matters before the council. But Cooper’s conversations with Peete, judging by the printed excerpts, appear to have been more focused on the billboard zoning matter at the heart of the case. As Cooper would count out cash for Ford, Ford was always talking about something other than the money. He scarcely seemed aware of exactly how much it was. Cooper’s cash conversations with Peete involved cash amounts written on pieces of paper and Cooper asking Peete to choose an amount. Peete always chose the highest amount. And Cooper would leave the money in the restroom of the Beale Street Merchants Association office where Peete was then executive director. … the harder they fall Peete considered himself not just a reliable vote for Cooper and others who came calling on him. Peete billed himself as a council member with the power to round up other votes on the 13-member body. Despite his family name and political heritage, Ford didn’t appear to enjoy his eight years on the council and never demonstrated the ability to assemble or lead a block of votes. Ford’s tenure as council chairman in 2005 began with him famously declaring things would be different on the council during his year as chairman. But the declaration was short-lived as other council members simply ignored that and other outbursts. Two years later, Peete and Ford again were a study in contrasts as both remained on the council in the immediate aftermath of their indictments. Peete said little and didn’t attend council committee sessions where the body discussed whether Peete and Ford should be encouraged to resign. Ford attended the sessions and even voted against a resolution calling on him to resign. He also frequently reminded his colleagues that he was innocent until proven guilty. – Bill Dries

Cooper was sentenced June 18 to six months in prison on the drug money laundering charge that led to his stint as a government witness. For more about the sentencing, see Page 25.



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Parents, School Help Young ‘Queen’ Turn Passion Into Business By Rosalind Guy The Memphis News a fly-by-night business. This is just the beginning for what she hopes to achieve as a “grown-up.” Already, Nzinga is envisioning having her own retail space to run her business. At times shy, though most times confident and poised when she speaks, Nzinga is familiar with every aspect of her jewelry business, from taking orders and setting prices to making sales presentations. On a recent afternoon, for example, Nzinga visited Silver Feet Dance Academy in the Southland Mall to speak to a group of children ages 4 to 16. The purpose was to inspire them by sharing her story. When asked beforehand if she Never too early was nervous, she replied, “I don’t Nzinga’s kindergarten teacher at think so.” Marcus Garvey Institute helped choose And her mother backed that up by the name for the business. saying, “She loves talking to people, “I discovered my passion for making telling them about her business.” jewelry during my jewelry-making class And that’s exactly what Nzinga in school,” Nzinga said, referring to a did that day. cultural arts course she took last year. “I “Hello. My name is Nzinga Ajamu,” enjoyed making jewelry so much that I her presentation began. “I’m 8 years asked my parents to buy beads for me so old. I started my jewelry-making busiI could make more jewelry. Also, I made YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR: Eight-year-old Nzinga Ajamu shows part of her jewelry collection ness in August 2007. The name of my a necklace, bracelet and ponytail holder in her East Memphis home. business is Queen Nzinga’s Creations: to wear to school. … When I would go Jewelry Made for Jewels. I design expressed a desire to start her own jewelrythey could not believe that I made it.” places people would compliment me on custom-made jewelry, key chains and other making business. All of those events sort of “snowballed,” my jewelry and they would say, ‘Where’d you Her mother said Nzinga was referring to accessories for men, women and children.” get that jewelry?’ and I’d say, ‘I made it,’ and her mother said, and eventually Nzinga P H OTO BY RO SAL IND G U Y

Parents can have a tremendous effect on children’s success in life, particularly if the children are young. One of the area’s youngest entrepreneurs, Nzinga Ajuma, is a testament to that idea. The 8-year-old East Memphis resident recently sat next to her proud mother, Veda, as she discussed Nzinga’s new business, Queen Nzinga’s Creations: Jewelry Made for Jewels. Nzinga started the custom jewelry-making business last year after taking a class at the Marcus Garvey Institute and Teaching Academy. She was 7 at the time. She will enter the fourth grade in the fall. The precocious girl was able to skip her first-grade year.

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“It’s her company and she handles everything herself. And we do everything we can to keep it that way.” – Veda Ajamu

Mother of Queen Nzinga’s Creations Founder Nzinga Ajamu

her “business” as one long before it officially became one. And it’s no wonder, as everywhere she went someone was commenting about the creations. At a homecoming game at Grambling State University, for example, Nzinga and her family were sporting black and gold bracelets created by the child entrepreneur. Before long, people were asking where they’d bought them. The girl ended up sitting on the bed of the family’s pickup truck, taking orders and filling them on the spot. One-girl shop Nzinga comes up with the designs for the jewelry – sometimes, she said, the ideas come at night while she sleeps. She also sets her own prices and keeps up with all the orders. “It’s her company and she handles everything herself,” Veda said. “And we do everything we can to keep it that way.” But school always comes first, Veda said. Education, Nzinga’s parents are teaching her, is the foundation to achieving the high goals the girl has set for herself. Nzinga doesn’t see Queen Nzinga’s Creations as just

The presentation, like everything else associated with her business, was all her own. She even recited the poem she wrote to express her passion for jewelry-making: “I am little Queen Nzinga; Making jewelry is what I like to do; I use my mind to think my creations through.” Nzinga doesn’t concentrate solely on profits. She has pledged to donate 10 percent of her annual profit to her school toward the purchase of playground equipment. The jewelry she sells ranges from $5 to $30. n

Queen Nzinga’s Creations Owner: Nzinga Ajamu Opened:2007 Phone: 496-6870 Website:

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FOCUS Health Care & Biotech

Luminetx Inks Three-Year Deal With MedAssets LINDSAY JONES The Memphis News Luminetx Corp. has signed a three-year supplier contract with Las Vegas-based MedAssets Supply Chain Systems, one of the nation’s largest group purchasing organizations for health care providers. MedAssets bills itself as a “margin and cash flow improvement company providing innovative solutions for health care providers.” The deal allows MedAssets’ hospital customers to get group purchasing discounts on Luminetx’s VeinViewer system, which typically sells for $25,000 per unit. Veinviewer is designed to help health care professionals find patients’ veins using infrared technology. An image of a patient’s veins is projected in real time onto the skin, making injections, IV insertions and other medical procedures quicker and easier. Luminetx officials were unavailable. The MedAssets deal follows Luminetx’s announcement in early May that Veinviewer sales had increased 250 percent in the first quarter over 2007’s Q1 sales.

Prior to that announcement, the company also began shipping its first VeinViewerGS or “Global Standard” units overseas, officially marking Luminetx’s entry into the international marketplace. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the VeinViewer product as a Class I Exempt Medical Device in fall 2006. In December 2007, Luminetx received certifications allowing VeinViewer to be distributed overseas, according to previous Daily News reports. MedAssets serves more than 125 health systems, 3,300 hospitals and 30,000 nonacute care providers. For more information about either company, visit or www. n


FDA OKs Medtronic Wire For Heartbeat Regulation MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Medical device maker Medtronic Inc. has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market a wire that delivers electrical pulses to the heart from a device that regulates heartbeat. Medtronic’s Spinal and Biologics Business is based in Memphis. The wire, called the Attain StarFix OTW lead, is intended for use with an implanted cardiac resynchronization device, which helps coordinate the lower chambers of the heart.

Medtronic said an advantage of Starfix over previous leads is that it can be placed in a variety of veins regardless of location or diameter. In addition, the wire has three lobes at the end that allow it to stay firmly in place. The company said the lead will become available later this summer.

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Cooper Sentenced to Six Months in Jail, Six of House Arrest BILL DRIES The Memphis News Former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member Joe Cooper was sentenced last Wednesday to six months in prison and six months of house arrest for helping drug dealers launder drug money. Cooper’s sentence could have been closer to three years under federal sentencing guidelines. But prosecutors recommended a lower sentence because of Cooper’s role as the government’s key witness in the corruption trial of former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. and the guilty plea of former Memphis City Council member Rickey Peete on bribery charges. U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen agreed. But Cooper’s conviction more than 30 years ago on loan fraud charges when he was a county commissioner played a significant role in Breen’s decision to impose a prison sentence. After he was caught in a federal drug case in August 2006, Cooper agreed to record conversations with Peete and Ford in which he paid them cash supplied by the FBI, allegedly to vote for a billboard zoning case

before the council. Peete pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and is serving a four-year and three-month prison term. Ford went to trial last month with Cooper as the government’s key witness. Ford was acquitted of all six bribery and extortion counts. Some jurors said later their decision was based on the sometimes-confusing conversations Cooper was having with Ford when the money was passed. At the time he was cooperating with the FBI, Cooper also was pursuing several loans and other business deals with Ford on behalf of developers. Despite that, federal prosecutors recommended Breen depart from the voluntary sentencing guidelines and go lower. “We perceive that there was a risk,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Colthurst in referring to the danger to Cooper in the case. But Cooper’s attorney, Kemper Durand, argued for no jail time because of the ill health of Cooper’s wife, Betsy. He submitted a physician’s statement

about her condition but neither he nor Cooper would talk specifically outside the courtroom about her health other than to say she is unable to drive herself anywhere. “He is her only family support in the area. He is her sole financial support. Without him, she would have no place to go,” Durand told Breen. “What he did is commendable. He’s certainly not a danger to the community.” Cooper owned up to the money laundering in a general way. “I’d like to apologize for being here today,” Cooper told Breen. “I did a wrong thing. I made a stupid mistake. I made several stupid mistakes. … I’d appreciate any consideration you might give me – probation or whatever.” Colthurst drew the line at no jail time. He pointed to Cooper’s 1977 conviction on federal charges of conspiracy to misapply loan funds. The conviction ended Cooper’s career as an elected leader and he served four months in prison after resigning his seat on the commission.

Colthurst told Breen that there were “marked similarities” between that offense and the money laundering offense that involved Cooper leasing cars in the names of other people to drug dealers. He suggested that Breen delay Cooper’s prison report date to address his wife’s health problems. Breen agreed with Colthurst on both points in sentencing Cooper to six months in prison. “It is somewhat identical,” Breen said of Cooper’s 1977 conviction. But he said Cooper’s cooperation in the corruption probe was “timely and significant.” As to any danger Cooper might have faced for wearing a wire, Breen said, “There was no specific threat. But it was a factor.” He also delayed Cooper’s eventual prison report date for six months so Cooper can arrange for his wife’s care. Cooper immediately waived any appeal of the sentence under the terms of his plea deal with prosecutors and told reporters after the hearing that he agrees with the sentence. n


Lewis Assumes TBA Presidency; Plans To Focus on Pro Bono Participation A: We monitor all of the firm’s appellate cases in state and federal court in all of the states in which the firm has an office. We monitor the progress of them, the issues that are being litigated and how they turn out, and then we also meet from time to time to talk about issues related to appellate practice and help provide training opportunities for our young lawyers to appellate practice.

By REBEKAH HEARN The Memphis News George T. “Buck” Lewis, a shareholder in the Memphis office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, assumed the presidency of the Tennessee Bar Association last week in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Lewis, who was elected vice president of the TBA in 2006 and has held the position of president-elect for the past year, is the chair of Baker Donelson’s Appellate Practice Section. In the past, he also has served as the president of the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Foundations. Lewis focuses his practice on complex business, personal injury, health care and class action litigation. At last week’s luncheon, Lewis addressed the new access to justice campaign, “4 ALL,” which will educate lawyers and the public on the severity of the need to find newer, easier ways for lawyers to participate in pro bono service.

Q: You focus on complex business, personal injury, health care and class action litigation. What led you to focus on those areas of the law?

George T. “Buck” Lewis Position: Shareholder Firm: Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC Basics: Lewis became president of the Tennessee Bar Association earlier this month.

“There will be a primary focus on the problem of denial of access to justice for people with limited means.” Q: What would you like to achieve during your tenure as president of the TBA? A: There will be a primary focus on the problem of denial of access to justice for people with limited means. Q: At the transfer of the gavel luncheon, you spoke of a new access to justice program titled “4 ALL.” Is this related to Baker Donelson’s pro bono initiative headed by attorneys Carla Peacher-Ryan and Antonio Matthews?

A: No, that’s the local Memphis Area Legal Services effort; Tony is the chair of the local MALS board, and Carla is involved with that board. This is a statewide campaign, and the four pillars of the campaign are Educate, Collaborate, Participate and Legislate, and within the Collaborate part of it, we will be working with local legal services agencies and local bar associations. Q: Talk about your role as chair of Baker Donelson’s Appellate Practice Section.

A: Well, when I started in 1981, the firm only had 23 lawyers, so we did just about everything on the civil side of litigation. As time went on, I just started handling more and more complex cases and class actions, and it just evolved to the point where I was handling large and complex business cases and large and complex class actions. Now, when a young lawyer starts, they might say, “I’m going to be an intellectual property lawyer,” or “I’m going to be an employment lawyer.” But when I started in ’81, you did everything. It’s much more specialized now than when I started. But I clerked for the (Tennessee Supreme) Court, so I was always interested in appellate litigation as a result of my wonderful experience clerking for the court. Q: What, if anything, would you like to see changed in the way that law is practiced today? A: On (a recent Saturday, I presented) a packet of proposed ethics rules changes, which are designed to make it easier for lawyers to do pro bono work. We need to get a rule that will make it clear that lawyers can do these limited-scope representations without doing a full conflict check. When you go down to the courthouse to

volunteer as the Attorney for the Day, you’re seeing three or four (clients) for 10 or 15 minutes, so we’re going to try to have an ethics rule that will make it clear that lawyers can do that without doing all of the formal conflict checks that they would normally have to do. The American Bar Association has a model rule that lawyers should aspire to do 50 hours of pro bono work a year, and we’re going to be asking the Board (of Governors of the TBA) to adopt that. There would be no requirement, but lawyers should aspire to 50 hours of pro bono work a year. Another rule is we want to make it clear that lawyers who are working out of state, who (also) are working for corporations, can do pro bono work through a recognized legal services agency, so that they don’t have to worry they might get in trouble if they do pro bono work in their communities. And then, finally, we’re going to ask the (Tennessee Supreme) Court to request that lawyers report to the court how much pro bono work they are doing. They can choose not to report it, but we’d like for the court to ask for that information, because we want to be able to tell how much work is being done and also monitor where the work is being done. Q: You keep a busy schedule with all your responsibilities. How do you relax when you do have spare time? A: I go walking in the mountains with my wife. My wife and I love to go to the national parks, especially the Smoky Mountains, and I take photographs and we hike together, and I take pictures of waterfalls and sunsets. … We like to get away from faxes, e-mails and phones and get up there in the mountains and (we) find that it really invigorates us. n


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Reed Excited About UTHSC Position, Memphis By ROSALIND GUY The Memphis News


Dr. Guy Reed Position: Diggs Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Basics: Reed will take over the position Aug. 1, after moving from Georgia.

hen an executive search firm contacted Dr. Guy Reed about becoming chair of the Department of Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the 54-year-old was instantly enticed by the prospect. Not only did the position intrigue him, but so did the idea of moving to Memphis. “My initial reaction was a great deal of excitement,” Reed said by phone from Augusta, Ga., earlier this week. He is preparing to take over the post Aug. 1. “Memphis is a town that has a great reputation, great people, great music, great food, great commerce and a strong medical community, which I thought had potential to be a real world-class medical community in many ways.” Reed first was chosen from 30 candidates as a finalist for the position, and then he was selected as the “clear consensus choice in the group of outstanding physician scientist leaders,” said Dr. Hershel Wall, chancellor and vice president for health system affairs at UTHSC. With that endorsement, Reed was named Diggs Professor and chairman of the department earlier this month, a post that excites him more and more when he considers where he’s headed. “I knew the reputation of the University of Tennessee, and several people that are wellknown in their field,” he said. “I knew that it was a superb place for training of medical students, residents, fellows, etc. And I also knew it had a strong reputation for research and it had some forward-thinking plans for biomedical research with Memphis Bioworks (Foundation) and things like that.” SHOOTING FOR THE TOP Reed joins UTHSC from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where he has served

POHLMANN Q&A Continued FROM page 34

Partisanship may be at work as well. The fact that African-Americans are disproportionately Democrats may make these stings look more racial when they were actually more partisan. The fact that Republicans have controlled the U.S. Department of Justice for the better part of 40 years could help explain why there are so many more Democrats being “stung.” TMN: The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Board of Commissioners, not to mention the state Legislature, have been busy crafting ethics reforms for elected officials since Waltz. How effective do you think those measures will be in preventing graft locally and on the state level? Pohlmann: That will all depend on how the legislation is crafted. There are clearly state and federal models we could follow in developing a more effective ethics law. But, in the end, much will still depend on whom the local electorate puts into office and how closely their actions are scrutinized. All laws can be broken. TMN: Many of your political science students at Rhodes College may aspire to careers in some form of public service. How do you address governmental ethics issues with them?

What are their most frequent questions or debate topics? Pohlmann: Rhodes has a very high percentage of its students involved in community service and considering careers in the public service. It’s part of the culture of the institution now more than ever. Consequently, it falls on the faculty to raise these types of issues in as many different ways as we can. I like to do it by role-playing in hypothetical situations. In the course of such, there’s not much debate about whether to take bribes or whether to break the law. One of the toughest dilemmas is deciding when to risk your job, or at least some significant political defeat, by simply saying, “No, I won’t do that because it’s not the right thing to do.” This dilemma can arise when deciding such things as what campaign ad to run, what story to publish or whether it’s ever OK to conceal evidence in a trial. TMN: Since Memphis’ political history is peppered with outlandish characters and politicians proven to be on the take, what level of hope do you have for the city not repeating its mistakes in the future? Pohlmann: Memphis doesn’t really have any longer list of rogues than cities such as Chicago

as the Kupperman Professor of Medicine, the chief of cardiovascular medicine and co-director of the Georgia Cardiovascular Center of Excellence. Reed also holds a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Chair. Reed received his master’s and medical degrees from Stanford University and served his residency at Yale University. He served on the faculty of the Harvard Cardiovascular Biology Laboratory in the Department of Genetics and Complex Disease, and then the cardiology staff at Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the Medical College of Georgia. Reed said his diverse experience with medical schools in various locales has prepared him for this charge. “I think that there’s an appreciation for the clinical care mission of a medical school as well as its importance to the community in discovering new methods for treatment and diagnosis and also for training the next generation of physicians who really need to be steeped in both clinical and research kinds of backgrounds,” he said. Reed touted the “strong tradition of distinction in the Department of Medicine at the University of Tennessee,” including its great teaching, its nationally recognized research and its strategic partnership in the community. He said he hopes to enhance all of the school’s traditions upon his arrival. “Our vision is a humble one – we want to be one of the best departments of medicine in the country,” he said. “And we’d like to provide the very best cutting-edge, evidence-based medical care to the citizens of Memphis, and to provide Tennessee with the next generation of outstanding medical physicians to help with their care.”

move to Memphis in late July or August. Reed said they are looking at houses in a number of neighborhoods around town, and each one of them offers something unique, which is indicative of the city as a whole. “One of the things that’s been interesting to me is the sense of community and optimism in the community about the future and about what things can be done to propel Memphis forward,” he said. “It seems to me to be an optimistic, forward-looking group of people. I’m excited about that.”

“Memphis is a town that has a great reputation, great people, great music, great food, great commerce and a strong medical community, which I thought had potential to be a real world-class medical community in many ways.” – Dr. Guy Reed

GEM OF A PLACE Reed and his wife, Elizabeth, plan to

More than that, Reed is excited and optimistic about showcasing UTHSC to Memphis and beyond. “Probably people in Memphis don’t realize what a gem they have there in terms of a place to live … and also in the University of Tennessee,” he said. “I think it really is committed to moving the community forward and providing the best medical care. I think Memphis could really become known for the quality of its medical care and the delivery of its medical care around the country.” n

or New York. We’re all dealing with many of the same dilemmas. It’s an evolutionary process, and we’re all working at trying to find the right balance between reform and responsive government.

Pohlmann: Dedication to helping those most in need of help. Enough self-confidence to be truly independent, not “needing” the job or its perks. An unflappable personal code of ethics. n

A city needs enough bureaucratization so that many of these decisions are handled by the book with very little discretion. Yet, at the same time, you want the politicians to have enough discretion to craft policy that is responsive to specific real problems faced by unique groups of citizens. In the end, however, much will fall on the watchdogs, and those include the media, professional associations and academia, as well as law enforcement. TMN: Which local politicians do you admire – and what qualities do you feel make them admirable? Pohlmann: I’d rather not cite specific individuals (in case) my personal views someday come to be construed as coloring my analysis of their actions. Suffice it to say that I admire many individuals at the city and county level. TMN: If character traits could be measured – and required – for local public servants, from mayors to representatives of various districts, what wouldyou identifyas the three most important?

McGHEE COMMENTARY Continued FROM page 34

Efforts initiated by the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, the Coalition for a Better Memphis, MPACT Memphis, Common Ground, Sustainable Shelby, Cordova Leadership Council and New Path provide additional examples of how residents and community organizations are working together to engage and encourage citizens to improve public policy and political procedures. These groups also are working to help write a new chapter in Memphis’ political history. For a newly bred political junkie like myself, it is indeed an exciting and refreshing time to be involved. I look forward to finding out what new changes and leaders the coming August and November elections will bring to the scene. Visit to learn more about ways you can be a part of the action. n

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U of M Names Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator SHELBY L. SLATER

F e AT U R e D N e w s M A K e R

Shelby L. Slater has been hired at the University of Memphis as its first emergency preparedness coordinator. Slater will assess, develop and maintain the university’s crisis management plan, facilitate integration of the Incident Command System into emergency planning activities and evaluate emergency communication needs. Previously, Slater served as director of homeland security and emergency management for the city of Detroit. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection and Threat Assessment Programs.





By Rebekah hearn The Memphis News

Sallie Johnson has been chosen as interim director of the Memphis Literacy Council board. Johnson is the former deputy director of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center. Crye-Leike Realtors Affiliate Broker Harold Haskin has obtained a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation. Haskin has been a licensed affiliate broker in Tennessee since 2003, assisting buyers in the Shelby, Fayette and Tipton county areas. He is also an Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) and a member of the Memphis Area, Tennessee and National Associations of Realtors. Lucian Pera of Adams and Reese LLP has been ranked among Chambers USA “Leaders in Their Field” for commercial litigation. Dr. Mohammed Yeasin, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Memphis’ Herff College of Engineering, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award. The award comes with a grant of nearly $500,000. Yeasin joined the U of M faculty in 2005. Andrew Trippel, a graduate student in the Division of City and Regional Planning at the University of Memphis, has been selected

to receive the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Beth Segars has been appointed to the new position of medication safety officer for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Segars joined Methodist in 2000 as a staff pharmacist at Methodist University Hospital. She completed her American Society of Health-system pharmacist-accredited pharmacy practice residency in 2001. Adams and Reese LLP has been ranked in the Chambers USA Directory as “Leaders in Their Field.” The firm ranked in Tennessee in Media & Entertainment as well as Real Estate, and in Litigation: General Commercial and Real Estate in Mississippi. The firm also has branches in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Washington, D.C. Ryan Sedlacek has been promoted to director of business development at Mercury Printing. Sedlacek has been with Mercury since 2004. She served as an associate in the leadership development program and a sales consultant at the company prior to her promotion. William Tayloe has been named president of Financial Federal Savings Bank. Tayloe

has been with Financial Federal since 2000. Steve Sutton has been promoted to executive vice president and chief credit officer. Sutton has 33 years of banking experience, the past 12 of which have been with Financial Federal. Kent Wunderlich has been named chief executive officer and co-chairman of the board, along with John W. Montesi Jr. Crye-Leike Realtors Managing Broker Hank Hogue has earned his Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) designation. The CRB designation is earned by completing four classes in real estate management and serving as a manager for at least three years. Hogue is a licensed broker in Tennessee and Mississippi. Cassandra Stephens, the newly appointed compliance/BSA officer at Memphis Area Teachers’ Credit Union, has earned the designation of Credit Union Compliance Expert from the Credit Union National Association Regulatory Compliance School. John Hamilton has joined Woodyard Realty Corp. as a multifamily and retail investment broker. Hamilton previously worked as an investment banking analyst for a boutique business valuation firm, and he also has worked in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. n

The Memphis News addresses the topics that matter most to local executives and professionals, and delivers prioritized information in a format that provides both fast-takeaway n e w s a n d more in-dept h features.

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JONAThAN DeViN Special to The Memphis News

Owner Ann Barnes with her shrimp ravigote in avocado dish.

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estaurateur Ann Barnes said she paid a small fortune to a public relations company to come up with a good name for a tearoom-like luncheon eatery, but she just didn’t care much for their suggestions. “Instead I just found myself repeating the same mantra over and over whenever someone asked me what kind of place it was. ‘It’s just for lunch,’” Barnes said she told people. “After saying that 5,000 times, the name just stuck.” And the name is certainly memorable. Just For Lunch operated successfully in East Memphis near Poplar Avenue

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Once again her signature favorites such as arugula and goat cheese salad, egg and olive salad, and her white cucumber-based gazpacho are back on the menu, this time with a 2008 spin: “We’re one of the first green restaurants in Memphis,” she said. Barnes explained that she uses organic fruits and vegetables, free-range poultry and hormone-free meats. Also, her kitchen is stocked with recyclable or compost-able plastics instead of Styrofoam for takeout containers. Most important, she delivers her leftovers to the Memphis Food Bank or the Memphis Rescue Mission instead of letting them go to waste.

FOR GUYS TOO Like its predecessor, the new Just For Lunch has perfected simple lunchtime recipes that hope to be tasty rather than heavy, such as vegetable and pasta salads, quiches and soups. The menu offers nothing heavier than grilled salmon or prime roast beef on a French roll. The grilled portobello with Roma tomatoes and whole wheat Kaiser roll is right on the money for texture and flavor. The Caesar dressing gives it an unexpected bit of zest without being too dressy. The sandwich matches perfectly with a steamy cup of squash soup with an almost potato-

“Did I mention that everything here is homemade?” – Ann Barnes and Perkins Road for 18 years before Barnes decided to focus on its sister business, Just Catering, which she said was a livelier trade. “We served all of the living presidents,” she said, adding, “It was fun having my own secret service agent.” She fondly recalled catering for Jimmy Carter at the local PGA Tour stop now known as the Stanford St. Jude Championship, George H.W. Bush after a speech at Germantown High School, and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at private fundraisers in East Memphis homes. Now-deceased presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan also sampled her cuisine as well as former Vice President Dan Quayle, now-deceased author, conservative pundit and founder of National Review William F. Buckley, and former national security adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Now Barnes is looking forward to catering one of the last 2008 presidential debates in September in Oxford, Miss., and adding a future president to her list. GET READY TO SALIVATE Nonetheless, Barnes delighted diners by reincarnating Just For Lunch, which opened in April at 3092 Poplar in the Chickasaw Oaks Village shopping center. It replaces Elfo’s in the center of the interior avenue of shops with its broad front porch- and house-like facade. Barnes credited her son and daughter-in-law, John and Joy Barnes, respectively, for helping her with the new venue.

like creaminess, and the crusty cheese biscuit is icing on the cake. Also very enjoyable is the pasta salad with brie, though it is far more decadent than it first appears. Chilled linguine is tossed with sweet Campari tomato chunks, fresh basil and cubes of mouth-watering brie cheese. So much for a light lunch! The dining room is painted a bright shade of mango with white wainscoting, and still-life artwork done mostly in green adorns the walls. Diners choose from seating in the interior dining room, the front porch or along the “street.” The décor and the menu seem to appeal mostly to ladies, who made up about 95 percent of the diners one day shortly after the opening. Barnes said she doesn’t intend an overly feminine atmosphere, though, and hoped to tempt men with savory dishes such as fried oysters, a black and bleu beef tenderloin salad and her special shrimp ravigote in avocado. What does seem intentional is the bubbly friendliness of the wait staff and the feeling one gets after conversing with Barnes herself, reminding the diner of a favorite aunt who always had a cherry pie cooling in the kitchen window. “Did I mention that everything here is homemade?” asked Barnes. “There’s nothing store-bought in my kitchen.” Enough said. Just For Lunch has made one strong comeback owing to Barnes’ creativity and simple fare that hasn’t lost its flair. n


A popular item at Just For Lunch is the lemon parfait.



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PEETE, COOPER Continued FROM page 21

The agents took Cooper to a room at a Hampton Inn off Walnut Grove. The drug agents on the case called other FBI agents who had been working on the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting and turned Cooper over to them. “The bottom line is they know I know just about everybody in local government,” Cooper said of the session that ended with the agents leaving the room and giving Cooper a half hour alone to ponder his future. “That half hour went by quickly,” Cooper said. He offered up Peete and Edmund Ford Sr. who were, according to the charges, to vote in favor of a billboard development Cooper had lobbied for in exchange for money. Cooper’s presence at City Hall was infrequent, but like every other endeavor, hard to miss. Nevertheless, Peete was suspicious that someone near Cooper might be an informant – the same kind of concerns he had nearly 10 years earlier. And just like 10 years before, he asked but didn’t do anything further. Cooper became an informant wearing a wire sometime the same month federal agents gave him a half hour to decide his future. The first recorded conversation between Peete and Cooper mentioned in the court documents was Sept. 12, 2006. Peete said he would support the billboard project. “I’m going to do what’s right for the community. … It looks OK to me,” he said before writing cash amounts on slips of paper and handing them to Cooper. The council approved the billboard project on Oct. 3, 2006. Peete nevertheless had a worsening suspicion common in the local political neighborhood that was the epicenter of the Tennessee Waltz corruption probe, which had surfaced more than a year earlier. The month before, it had been Peete who calmed Cooper’s jitters about the attention. He asked if Cooper was getting nervous and then assured him by saying, “We’re like blood.” Royal blood, according to Cooper, who flattered Peete by saying, “You have to go to the king to get the land developed,” and pointing to Peete. ‘Alphabet boys’ Oct. 18, 2006, was an unseasonably warm day. Peete was developing a worsening cold but still tending to the public and private duties of his political life. Cooper met Peete at Peete’s office on Beale Street to follow up on a meeting two weeks earlier in which Cooper had left $5,000 in cash on top of the toilet in the office bathroom. It was the last of the payoffs for voting for the billboard matter the day before. Peete went in after Cooper left the bathroom and retrieved the money. Cooper had left his cell phone on the toilet top as an excuse to go back in and verify that the cash had been taken without anyone else having been in between the time he left and Peete entered and exited. Cooper had an audio and video recording of the exchange. It included Peete expressing concern about the Tennessee Waltz corruption probe. Peete said he was worried about “those folks … alphabet boys.” Peete then wrote something on his hand, but Cooper said he couldn’t read it. So Peete wrote “FBI” on a sheet of paper. Cooper didn’t tell Peete that he was wearing a wire for the FBI. But he did tell Peete that he had talked with the FBI about three months earlier, as the fallout from the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting continued. He had talked voluntarily with FBI agents but not truthfully, he would later testify. The agents

had already wanted to talk to Cooper about a bad check worth $20,000. Cooper was given three weeks to get the money, which he testified he got from Hyneman. Cooper fielded questions from FBI agents Brian Burns and Mark Jackson for an hour or two, he said, during which they tossed out the names of some political figures. While it created rumors that Cooper was working with the FBI, Cooper also used the meeting to try to convince Peete that he had some inside sources on the continuing corruption probe. Fourteen days later, Peete’s concerns had eased if only momentarily. Cooper said he had checked on the “alphabet people” and assured Peete they were working in Nashville but not Memphis. Cooper expressed faux concern and Peete told him, “You shouldn’t.” Of course Cooper shouldn’t. He was working for the alphabet people. The two men parted company after a brief talk and no exchange of money. Humanity and all its facets The next day was a cold and blustery one, with Peete showing up that morning by the Mississippi River for the long-awaited dedication of the new Tom Lee monument in the riverside park bearing the name of the legendary river hero from 1925 – a man who

Street. And he used the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the coming campaign, talking in certain but guarded terms about the coming year. The next day, Peete was at his office on the other side of the street and a few doors down and he met with Cooper. Peete said, according to federal court documents, that he had been warned Cooper was cooperating with authorities but that he (Peete) didn’t believe the rumors. Cooper said he would find other backers and Peete said he would support the move if others brought up the subject. The two passed notes about the price of that support and Cooper left $2,500 in cash in the women’s restroom of the office, cash supplied by the FBI. Peete went in and got it. FBI agents arrested him in the office and found not only the money, but the notes he and Cooper exchanged. That same day, fellow council member Edmund Ford Sr. also was arrested by federal agents following a meeting in Cooper’s car on Walnut Grove Road near Tillman Street. Cooper then packed his bags and lived in a motel in Jackson, Tenn., for the next month on a $10,000 payment the FBI gave him. Unlike the volatile Ford, whose emotional outbursts were a regular if bizarre feature of City Hall life for four consecutive sets of

“I’m proud to have come out of poverty in North Memphis. You learn integrity here. You learn strength. You learn the ability to stand up and be somebody. ... It’s about not being a lap dog. It’s about not giving up on our community.”

– Rickey Peete

lived out the remainder of his life in Klondike, just a few blocks from Peete’s high school alma mater. The cold Peete had the day before was in full bloom, causing him to have a hoarse rasp during his brief remarks in a tent that did little to shield those inside from a relentless chilling wind. “This is a community whose history is not black. This is a community whose history is not white. This is a community whose history is one of humanity,” Peete said at the close of his remarks – even with the rasp, the remarks were the most eloquent of a day perfectly suited to thinking about posterity. His words got the biggest ovation of the day. Finished with the billboard matter, Cooper had another proposition for Peete. In November, he began talking to Peete and recording conversations about replacing John Shepherd as the chairman of the Board of Adjustments. The new political goal was not one that Cooper’s FBI handlers had established even though they gave him the money to pass on for it. Cooper would later testify that getting rid of Shepherd was a goal of billboard developer William H. Thomas. Peete wanted $6,500 to bring the matter up before the council – $2,500 in advance and $4,000 after the council acted. But two days later he got cold feet. He was afraid “it will draw scrutiny” – a quote in court documents from the recordings Cooper made of the conversation. By now Peete was ramping up to announce his bid for mayor close to the start of 2007. Herenton, too, had a big if unofficial kickoff planned – an exhibition boxing match with former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier at The Peabody hotel in a benefit for the local Drug Court. The night before the match, Peete was among those at a pre-fight party on Beale

committee sessions that followed, Peete kept a very low profile. He refused to resign initially. But there was none of the bluster. He even recused himself from voting on any zoning matters. Peete laid low. He occasionally asked questions at committee sessions. He took an intense interest in an explanation of retirement benefits, but otherwise was an enigma. Alphabet soup For all of his calm, Peete’s council colleagues who weren’t charged appeared flustered at the surfacing of the corruption probe. Several were approached by FBI agents in the inevitable investigation to see if the alleged corruption went further. They didn’t welcome the publicity in which their names were linked with the letters F-B-I. Even the possibility of the billboard developer’s name acknowledged to be behind the zoning item at the center of the case prompted a near panic in the weeks after the charges were announced. Council members voting on a development with the name Thomas in it questioned the developers closely to assure it had nothing to do with William Thomas Jr. The only comment from Peete came in a return to the North Memphis neighborhood where his grandmother once lived. It came at a ribbon-cutting in his old North Memphis district for the April Woods West apartment building – the companion project to the April Woods East ribbon cutting he had attended just a few months before and a different political reality ago. No smiles and no Herenton four months later, and Peete’s mayoral bid had been the very first casualty of the bribery charges. Peete watched as the city’s housing and community development director, Robert Lipscomb, talked about the Herenton admin-

istration’s effort to remake blighted areas of the city with mixed-income developments drawing racially and economically diverse homeowners and renters. It’s a subject Lipscomb is fervent and emotional about. On this day, it proved to be a topic that Peete felt strongly about, too, among other things. “I’m proud to have come out of poverty in North Memphis. You learn integrity here. You learn strength. You learn the ability to stand up and be somebody,” Peete said as he talked of efforts to “decimate my character.” “It’s about not being a lap dog. It’s about not giving up on our community.” Then he turned to diversity. “We need more black developers over here. We don’t need just (Henry) Turley and (Jack) Belz developing this area. And we don’t need to see what we see happening in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, where you have a total gentrification taking place,” Peete said in voicing fear that black homeowners in the area would be moved out once it improved. “Some of y’all start rolling your eyes and everything – ‘Oh my God, why is he saying this?’” Peete said as he talked of white developers and their relationship with black developers. “They don’t want to work with us. … That’s the attitude.” Lipscomb appeared upset as he stood nearby. When Peete walked over following his comments, Lipscomb listened and even nodded. But he wouldn’t look at Peete. Cat got his tongue Cooper pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges he faced with a federal court hearing scheduled in January 2007 with little advance notice. He had nothing to say as he left the Clifford Davis/Odell Horton Federal Building. Cooper’s sentencing was delayed until this month following his testimony in the May trial of Ford. Cooper was the government’s key witness as well as its albatross. The jury acquitted Ford of all charges. Cooper is still seen around town, working as a courier for a prescription drug service and also dabbling in real estate deals and finding customers willing to pay the notes on Cadillacs leased in the names of other people. He even held a yard sale recently on the front lawn of his East Memphis home to the chagrin of at least one neighbor. Peete pleaded guilty to one count of bribery shortly after he announced his resignation from the City Council a year ago. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison and is now serving that sentence. Before he was sentenced by federal Judge Hardy Mays on Nov. 14, Peete said he was “humiliated, remorseful and ashamed of my actions, which have brought me to this time and place.” He spoke in a halting voice far removed from the voice that had been such an essential tool in the world of North Memphis politics. But there was a familiar theme in the words. “As a man, I accept responsibility for my error in judgment. … Though I’ve faltered during my life, I’ve tried to serve humanity,” Peete said. He also urged Mays to look at the offense “in the context of my long career as a public servant.” In his last public appearances, Peete smiled broadly, held his head high and even waved, but said nothing. The day before Peete was sentenced, Bruce Thompson, the former county commissioner who had run as an alternative to Cooper’s brand of politics, was indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges and since has pleaded guilty. The charges involved Memphis school system construction contracts Thompson lobbied for in 2004 and 2005 while he was a commissioner. n

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EVENTS BUSINESS Talk Shoppe will meet Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, 3693 Tyndale Drive. The topic will be “The Mastermind Principle: Propelling Your Way to Success by Giving and Gaining Ideas.” This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Jo Garner at 759-7808. The Memphis Regional Chamber will host its breakfast forum Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St. Neil Archer Roan of the Washingtonbased Roan Group is the keynote speaker. R.S.V.P. to Ericka Milford at 543-3518 or emilford@ The Engineers’ Club of Memphis Inc. will hold its weekly lunch meeting Monday at noon at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. Bryan Gainey, industrial products manager for Sonoco Products, will speak about “The Evolution of the Concrete Form.” The cost is $12 and no reservations are required. The Tennessee Department of Revenue will host its next free bimonthly new-business workshop July 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Renaissance Training Center, 555 Beale St. The workshop is free and is designed to help people unfamiliar with business tax issues. Registration is available at or by calling 213-1400. G O V E R N M E NT The Shelby County Administration Homeland Security Ad Hoc Committee will meet July 2 at 10 a.m. in the fourth floor conference room of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St. For more information, call chief administrator Steve Summerall at 545-4301. The Center City Commission’s Design Review Board will meet July 2 at 5 p.m. in the CCC conference room at 114 N. Main St. For more information, contact Dawn Vinson at 575-0555 or vinson@downtownmemphis. com. The Center City Commission’s annual luncheon will be held July 10 at 11:30 a.m. in The Peabody hotel’s Grand Ballroom at 149 Union Ave.

Nearly 700 community leaders are expected to attend the networking event. LEGAL The Young Lawyers Division of the Memphis Bar Association will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled “A Review of the Best and Worst Dance Moves: Lessons from the Tennessee Waltz Trials” Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 185 Union Ave. The seminar is worth three CLE hours. Later that evening, happy hour will be at 6 p.m. followed by the Redbirds vs. New Orleans Zephyrs at 7:05 p.m. at AutoZone Park, 200 Union Ave. To sign up for either or the CLE and baseball game, contact Hannah Newsom at 678-1562 or For game and happy hour tickets only, contact Megan Arthur at megan. or 525-3234 or Beth Rainwater at brainwater@ or 544-6378. The day’s events are being sponsored by The Data Company and The Daily News, The Memphis News’ sister publication. C O M M U N ITY The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence will host its New Member Orientation Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Alliance, 606 S. Mendenhall Road, Suite 108. For more information, contact April DeBerry at 684-6605 or The Memphis Botanic Garden will host “Water Workshops for Educators: Project Wet” Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the garden, 750 Cherry Road. The workshop offers cooperative, hands-on learning and inspiration to teach about water, in or out of the classroom. The cost is $40. For more information, visit www. or The University of Tennessee Medical Group will host ophthalmologist Dr. Sarwat Salim, who will present a free seminar on “The Aging Eye” Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Germantown UTMG office, 7945 Wolf River Blvd. For reservations, call 347-8100. The Mid-South Area Pulmonary Hypertension Support Group will meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at Logan’s Roadhouse, 2710 N. Germantown Parkway. The guest speaker will

be a nurse practitioner from Stern Cardiovascular. To make a reservation, contact Barbara Thompson at 251-1023 or The LoCash Cowboys, a country duo who are the featured act on the Redman Roadhouse tour, will perform Friday at 11 p.m. at Alfred’s on Beale, 197 Beale St. Tickets are $10, payable at the door. For more information, visit Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and Friends for Life will offer free HIV counseling and testing Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 N. Watkins St. For more information, contact Christie Petrone at 725-3008 or cpetrone@ The Tennessee Child Care Facilities Corp. will host its 2008 Leadership Conference, “Empowering Leaders to Serve,” Friday beginning at 9:30 a.m. and Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church, 6655 Winchester Road. The event is dedicated to helping enhance management skills, professionalism and leadership capacity of directors, administrators, teachers and anyone working with or providing care for children. For more information, including cost information, contact John Garrett at 888-413-2232. The Ronald McDonald House of Memphis will host the “Fourth Annual Eyewitness News Cameron Harper Celebrity Putt-Putt Tournament” Saturday at Golf & Games Family Park, 5484 Summer Ave. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the tournament starts at 10 a.m. Individual fees are $25 per player. Two players may register for $40 or four players for $75. All proceeds benefit the RMH of Memphis. Registration forms are available at local Blockbuster Video stores, Golf & Games Family Park, or at or The Memphis Redbirds will play against the New Orleans Zephyrs Saturday at 6 p.m. at AutoZone Park, and the game will benefit Shelby Residential and Vocational Services for people with disabilities. Ticket vouchers must be bought through SRVS for the company to receive the proceeds. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at or by contacting Cheryl Anderson at 312-6802 or cheryl.anderson@ Ticket vouchers should be brought to the ticket booth on game day in exchange for a ticket. WUMR, the University of Memphis radio station, will wrap up its eightday “Jazz in June” Radiothon with a tribute to the late Dr. Bob McDowell, who served as the station’s general manager for 25 years. “An Evening of Jazz with Bill Easley and Friends” will be held Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Owen Brennan’s at Poplar Avenue and Ridgeway Road. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and may be bought at DavisKidd Booksellers, 387 Perkins Road Extended. Reservations must be made by Tuesday for the Rotary Club of Memphis East’s fifth annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Award July 9 at 11:45 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of The Peabody hotel, 149 Union Ave. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will be the keynote speaker. The awards recognize distinguished work by public servants of the citizens of Memphis and Shelby County. Two public servants will be honored – one elected official and one nonelected public employee. Tickets to the luncheon are $35 per person or $300 for 10-person tables. For reservations, call 737-8411 or e-mail The Fayette County Animal Rescue (FCAR) has been ordered to shut down by Fayette County government. As a result, many animals will need homes and FCAR will host an adoption event July 5 at PetSmart at Wolfchase Galleria. All animals come spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, and the adoption fee is $95. For more information, call FCAR at 854-2565, e-mail or visit The Memphis Botanic Garden will host a “Japanese Garden Candlelight Tour” July 10 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the MBG, 750 Cherry Road. In the visitors center, pre-tour cultural activites will be held including Shibui kimono display, Japanese tea ceremony, calligraphy fans and more. At 7:45 p.m., members of the Ikebana International, Bamboo Chapter, will lead tours of the Saijaku-en (Japanese Garden of Tranquility) and share stories of Japanese folklore and garden symbolism. For more information, call 636-4110. The City of Germantown Parks and Recreation Service

will host a basketball camp July 14-18 from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The camp is for children ages 6 to 13 and the fee is $150. Campers will learn the fundamentals of basketball from Memphis Grizzlies staff, and all campers will receive two tickets to a Grizzlies home game and other Grizzlies items. Registration is available at the Parks and Recreation office, 2276 West St. in Germantown. For more information, contact Kevin Weaver at 757-7379 or The Parks and Recreation Service also will hold a baseball camp July 21 to 24 from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The camp is for children ages 7 to 14 and the fee is $150. Campers will learn the fundamentals of baseball and will receive individual and group instruction through drills and games by the University of Memphis baseball coaching staff and players. The Church Health Center will offer “Commit to Quit,” a six-week course in smoking cessation, at Hope & Healing, 1115 Union Ave. at Interstate 240. The start date is July 24 at 5 p.m. The course is open to Hope & Healing members and CHC patients, and nonmembers pay $60. To sign up, call Sheila Kernan at 259-4673, Ext. 1604, or visit www. The Children’s Museum of Memphis is hosting the traveling exhibit “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!” through Sept. 28 at the museum, 2525 Central Ave. The exhibit introduces children to Curious George’s world and leads visitors through an interactive math, science and engineeringbased “adventure.” Admission is $7 for children ages 1 to 12 and senior citizens, $8 for adults and free for museum members and children younger than 1. For more information, call the museum at 458-2678 or visit Girls Inc. of Memphis is holding its annual summer camp through July 25 for girls between ages 6 and 18. The program is being offered at six of the Girls Inc. centers throughout the Memphis area. For more information, call Iris Scott at 523-0217 or visit www. TH E A RT S The Dixon Gallery and Gardens will host a threeday printmaking workshop with instructor Richard Gamble Wednesday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339

Park Ave. Students will explore the techniques associated with Impressionist printmaking: etching, drypoint and monotype. Materials are included in the price of the class, which is $95 for Dixon members and $120 for nonmembers. The class is for people age 14 and older and reservations are required. Call the Dixon at 761-5252 for more information. More Dixon events include: - A Lunch & Learn July 2 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The topic will be “The Modern Imprint,” with artist Richard Gamble, who will show how the interaction between printmaking, photography and a new method of painting shaped the vision of a rapidly-changing modern Europe. For more information, call the Dixon at 761-5252. - A Lunch & Learn July 9 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The title of the lunch is “The Cut Edge: Reflector of Light” with Randle Witherington, who will present a historical background and discuss the origins of cut and etched glass. For more information, call the Dixon at 761-5252. - A Lunch & Learn July 16 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The topic will be “James McNeill Whistler and Mary Cassatt: Two American Geniuses of French Printmaking” with Kevin Sharp, who will discuss the two American expatriates. For more information, call the Dixon at 761-5252. - “Passport to Paris Family Day” July 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The gallery’s exhibit, “Passport to Paris: Nineteenth Century French Prints,” will be opened to the public for free, along with hands-on activities, story time, music and refreshments. For more information, call the Dixon at 761-5252. - Icelandic artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s installation, “Horizons,” through Aug. 31 at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The exhibit consists of 10 cast-iron, life-size figures standing amid the gardens. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s exhibit, “The Prints of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)” is on view through Sept. 7 at the museum, 1934 Poplar Ave. The exhibit offers an overview of the artist’s career through the prints he created from the 1960s to the 1980s. For more information, call the museum at 544-6208.


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Ohio Transplant Expresses Inner Muse With Jazz JONAThAN DeViN Special to The Memphis News

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any professional musicians spend their careers developing and honing their skill with the instrument that speaks to their artistic souls. Local jazzman Paul Morelli, a member of the Memphis Jazz Orchestra, says his one chosen instrument is actually music itself and the various horns, woodwinds and saxophones he plays to reach it. “Whenever something worked for me, I really just added it to what I had before, and by playing more instruments I was able to do more with the music I make,” said Morelli. A transplant from Cincinnati, Morelli currently performs jazz and swing band music on flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone and trumpet. In addition to regular Sunday evenings at Alfred’s on Beale with the jazz orchestra, he has started his own band, the Flying Squid Battalion, and subs with a number of other groups such as the noted Stax-style soul group Jump Back Jake. VIRTUOSO It wasn’t clear as a child that Morelli would become a professional musician. He gave up childhood lessons on the piano, the first instrument introduced to him by his parents. “I took it for about three years starting when I was 6 years old, but I was glad to give it up when my parents stopped making me,” he said, laughing. In the fifth grade, living in Nashville with his family, Morelli chose the trumpet, and soon after discovered jazz. The appeal of improvisation challenged him to strengthen his playing skills and with the help of his private teacher, Scott Ducaj (pronounced du-KAY), he mastered essential skills such as sight-reading, which make jazz musicians comfortable inserting their own riffs and runs until the music flows in a passionate stream. “Scott did a lot of sight-reading, which is a skill I think most teachers overlook,” he said. “Teachers sometimes get caught up teaching a particular piece, but when you can sight-read you can pick up any piece of music and play it.” That’s important, Morelli said, because jazz music isn’t chiseled in stone like classical music. Rather, jazz depends on a musician’s ability to make things up as the music happens.

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“Some jazz players may not like me saying this, but a lot of jazz is written very simply in 16 or 32 bar charts,” he said. “But then you add in all the solos and improvisation and it sounds a lot more complicated.” MUSIC OF THE SOUL Morelli was in college at the University of Memphis before he really felt like he had the ability to race through key changes and time signatures with the speed he needed to perform. Now in his late 20s, Morelli said he hopes more of Memphis will hear the kind of music that sings to him. After graduating in 2004 with a degree in music emphasizing jazz chart arrangement, Morelli started teaching private students. He now meets weekly with 34 students including children, high schoolers and adults. “I love teaching, and I love all of my students, but there’s a part of me, or really all of me, that wishes I could just play full time and then teach maybe 10 strong students that are really advancing. I’d love to have the freedom to do that,” he said. In the meantime, he keeps busy with his two regular bands, studio gigs and subbing for groups such as the Memphis Hepcats, Joyce Cobb’s trio and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. The Flying Squids Battalion, which Morelli started two years ago as an ensemble playing for a swing dance club, plays at weddings and other events. In addition to the likes of Benny Goodman and Glen Miller, Morelli incorporates the music of pop/rock-oriented performers such as Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind, & Fire into the Squids’ charts. Surprisingly, the legends of jazz do not necessarily show up at the top of Morelli’s favorite groups to listen to. Late 1960s and early ’70s classic rock groups such as Chicago, Genesis, the Electric Light Orchestra, and, of course, the Beatles influence and appeal to him overall. “I love the unusual chord progressions and time signatures that you heard back then,” he said. “A lot of the bands that have been big since I was born are too simple. If that’s all there is, it can get boring. It’s like eating white bread everyday and nothing else. I want some Tabasco sometimes.” The connection between musical technicality and passionate freedom keeps Morelli’s jazz hot. n



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City’s Political Playbook Needs Revisions Going Forward demonstrated a talent for symbolism – refusing to abandon his cloth chair when most other commissioners approved buying new leather-upholstered chairs. Yet next month, Thompson will be standing before a federal judge and will be sentenced for using his office for personal financial gain. He told construction company executives that as a county commissioner he could line up votes on the city school board to get them the contract to build three new schools. The company got the contract, although federal prosecutors have made it clear there is no proof Thompson followed through and actually lined up or controlled the votes or paid bribes for the votes. Symbolism is the easy part of politics. It’s so easy that it’s difficult not to be insulted knowing now what we didn’t know then. Symbolism is easy for the practitioners of politics and it’s easy for the consumers. We all are for education and we’re all against crime.

Q? A.

Dr. Marcus Pohlmann chaired the Department of Political Science at Rhodes College for 16 years and has taught there since 1986. He currently teaches constitutional law, trial procedures, United States politics and AfricanAmerican politics. Pohlmann also has a book coming out in September titled “Opportunity Lost: Race and Poverty in the Memphis City Schools.”

So why do we find ourselves clapping and whistling and cheering when a politician says just that with no specifics or a mantra of slogans that are empty and meaningless? Is it because they paused for the applause? Surely we aren’t that easy. None of this behavior by our politicians or us speaks for the soul of an institution that we ultimately own. Right now, that soul is troubled and hurt. Rickey Peete and Joe Cooper didn’t cause all of the damage. And it won’t be healed just by keeping a body count of politicians behind bars. Edmund Ford Sr. was acquitted of any wrongdoing in his recent corruption trial. Cooper’s undercover work for the FBI in the case was clearly one of at least four deals Cooper was pursuing while he was wearing their wire. It would appear old habits die hard in Cooper’s case, and the result was a case that did not meet the level of proof necessary to deprive Ford of his freedom. But it is undeniable that Ford was taking

money from developers who had business with the council while he served on the body. It doesn’t matter that they were projects he would have voted for anyway. It also doesn’t matter that the conduct didn’t fall on the wrong side of a legal boundary. Several of the Tennessee Waltz corruption cases featured recordings that had nothing to do with the criminal charges. They were a glimpse into what some of our politicians talk about among themselves. It was getting paid for their public positions – making things happen for all of the wrong reasons. There were no discussions about higher ideals or helping others. The venues changed and those around the table differed, but the selfishness and vanity were pervasive. There is what is illegal and there is what is unethical. They aren’t the same standard. One is higher than the other and it is long past time we, as citizens and voters, begin looking higher. n

New Faces, Ideas Create Hope For Local Politics Tarrin McGhee, a 2006 University of Memphis journalism graduate, serves as program director of New Path, a local non-partisan political action committee. Its mission is to encourage citizens and emerging leaders to become engaged in the political process. TARRIN McGHEE Special to The Memphis News

TMN: Past media reports in Memphis have traced its “culture of corruption” to E.H. Crump and his political machine of the last century. In your opinion, was Crump the genesis of the public corruption unearthed by recent investigations such as Tennessee Waltz, or is it politics as usual – then and now? And if there is such a culture in Memphis politics, has it desensitized local people or skewed their view of what is or is not ethical behavior in office? Pohlmann: I’m not convinced that politics is any more corrupt than private business. There’s just more attention paid to it, and the laws are tighter. For example, if you look at some of the executive compensation packages that can develop when corporate leaders sit on each others’ boards of directors, you’re talking about a much higher order of theft. It’s just not defined as such by the laws of the land. As for “Boss Crump,” the truth is that many large cities have political machines in their past, and I don’t see where Boss Crump’s was any more powerful or any more corrupt than the rest. Yet most of those other cities have not had this many indictments. So something else must be at work. Memphis has sometimes been referred to as a very big small town, and I think there’s at least some truth to that. It’s a very neighborly place for a city this large. But, with that comes a certain informality, which in politics can lead to problems if those who observe

malfeasance are reticent to blow the whistle on people they know.

Guest Commentary


he story of Rickey Peete and Joe Cooper is another chapter from a city with a colorful and spicy political heritage. Some might term it muddy and lurid. Peete is already in prison and Cooper is on his way, each for the second time in their tortured public lives. But before they’re consigned to the past and the page is turned, let’s remember some of the other names that can’t be separated from their stories. Politics may be known as the art of compromise, but before art gets involved, it is the basic work of bumping into people. Peete and Cooper bumped into a lot of people over the years. In Cooper’s case, he bumped heads with Bruce Thompson, who ran against Cooper in 2006 for the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. Thompson beat Cooper largely by running as the “un-Joe” – a departure from good-old-boy political corruption. On the commission, Thompson quickly

There may well be a “culture of racism” that still persists, even if it is not acknowledged as such. Law enforcement officials may simply start with a certain presupposition that blacks are more prone to this kind of behavior. If that kind of presumption in any way colored who was targeted for these stings, then there is a form of racism at work.

As the current program director of New Path, and being a younger member of the local political scene, I realize the main detriment to Memphis’ political environment is its history. It permeates the current landscape and at times hinders progress. My perspective of local politics and its future is affected by my experiences here: lessons learned in working with local candidates and elections and the passion I have for remaining a committed member of the community. Through my involvement with the PAC, I’ve found that more than a few public officials – and even some residents – are too mired in past incidents to recognize the need to move beyond them. Some of those incidents have included continuing the polarizing voting patterns and election trends that discourage involvement and continually lead to the distrust many Memphians feel for the local process and leadership. But hope is on the horizon. Recently, voters and elected officials have begun seizing opportunities to reshape opinions and challenge statistics that portray the city as crime-ridden, corrupt and headed down the wrong path. Last year’s municipal elections proved local citizens are ready for change. The highly contested race for city mayor, elections of a majority-new Memphis City Council and the overwhelming number of first-time candidates are just a few examples. Currently, the city is faced with new opportunities to redirect its political future. Remaining focused on moving Memphis forward, voters must continue to dedicate themselves to getting past the ethical scandals that have plagued the scene, and stay committed to setting candidate standards higher and holding servant leaders accountable. If Memphians are sincere in their apparent desire and demand to move in a more positive direction, it is necessary for residents and elected officials to work together and begin shifting attitudes from being problem-focused to solution-oriented. Too often, we concentrate more on the problems the city faces and the elected officials who aren’t serving with integrity or the best interests of their constituency rather than highlighting and supporting politicians, organizations and citizens who are working daily to provide solutions. This year the Memphis Charter Commission has worked diligently to engage residents in the political process by encouraging public comment on potential changes to the city’s governing document. New Path is working to support the commission’s efforts by partnering with the MidSouth Peace & Justice Center and Concerned Memphians United on a community-voting project that will educate citizens about the proposed charter amendments. The above example is only one of many contributions a new wave of local community and political leaders is making to positively impact the local political processs.

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I also think the fact that we’re one of the poorest cities in the nation can place people in office who are not independently or financially secure. This can be seen in some of the paltry sums that individuals got arrested for taking. TMN: No matter how the media have downplayed the issue, race seems to be a big factor in FBI stings such as Waltz and Main Street Sweeper. To what extent do you feel race mattered in these probes? Was it relevant that most of those caught are black, or is it simple politics-gone-awry regardless of the perpetrators’ race(s)? Pohlmann: The only way to know that for sure is to know whether all politicians were targeted and these were the only ones who succumbed to the temptation. If that’s not the case, then it seems fair to ask why those targeted were disproportionately AfricanAmerican. What made law enforcement focus their efforts there?

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Vol. 1, Issue 2


Vol. 1, Issue 2