From today’s edition of The City Paper: After 13 years, The City Paper will cease operations with the publication of its Friday, Aug. 9 issue.
Chris Ferrell, CEO of SouthComm, made the announcement to employees this morning.
“In the last few days, we made the difficult decision to stop publishing The City Paper,” he said. “After years of being subsidized by our investors and other Southcomm publications, we finally determined that there was not enough advertiser support for the free newsweekly model we were trying to sustain. The model proved very popular with readers, but in publishing the revenue doesn’t necessarily follow the readership.”
Ferrell said that the tough climate for advertising dollars made having multiple news properties extremely difficult, particularly a general interest publication like The City Paper. A portion of the staff will be laid off while others will be redeployed to other SouthComm publications.
“Going forward we will be merging some of our editorial resources into our profitable publications in Nashville in an effort to make them even stronger,” Ferrell said. “You will see some of the names you have grown familiar with in The City Paper in the masthead of the Nashville Scene and Nashville Post. Both publications will expand their news coverage to fill the gap left by the closing of The City Paper. David Boclair will continue his coverage of Nashville sports, for example.”
Full story HERE.
Among celebration parties in Bartlett, Germantown and elsewhere, suburban school supporters sipped soft drinks and toasted their success Tuesday night after voters again approved the formation of municipal school districts, reports The Commercial Appeal. Back at the polls because a federal judge threw out last year’s vote approving the districts, voters turned out in smaller numbers in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington but approved the districts by an overwhelming margin.
Approval numbers ranged from a high of 94 percent in Collierville to a low of almost 74 percent in Millington. About 20 percent of the 143,000 registered voters cast ballots with about half voting early.
“It’s higher than a typical special election,” said election administrator Richard Holden.
If the districts ultimately pass legal muster, Bartlett would be the largest suburban school district with 9,000-plus students in a dozen schools. Lakeland would be the smallest with roughly 2,500-plus students in one elementary school.
At Garibaldi’s Pizza in Germantown, supporters in YES shirts supporters smiled as they took pictures, cheered and applauded as precinct totals came in.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Several plaintiffs have filed suit against the renaming of Confederate-themed city parks in Memphis, asserting only the mayor can change park names.
According to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/18AUpUg ), nine individuals and a group calling itself Citizens to Save Our Parks filed the petition Wednesday against the city and members of the Memphis City Council.
On Feb. 5, the council approved a resolution renaming Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park.
They were given generic names, awaiting a committee recommendation. That panel has recommended Civil War Park, Promenade Park and Harbor Park. The council has not acted on the recommendation.
The lawsuit asks Chancery Court to void the renaming of the parks.
City Attorney Herman Morris said Wednesday he had not yet seen the lawsuit.
A 13-month partial moratorium on property annexations by Tennessee towns and cities is now in effect after Gov. Bill Haslam signed the measure brought by two Hamilton County legislators, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “I very much appreciate the governor signing the bill in that it has the minimum restrictions on the cities and it does not restrict the growth of or development in commercial, industry and retail areas,” Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, the House sponsor, said Monday. “It only protects homes and farm property used primarily for agricultural process. It only protects ma and pa and ma and pa’s farm.”
Carter emphasized commercial, industry and retail property is “specifically exempted.”
But Margaret Mahery, executive director of the Tennessee Municipal League, said towns and cities remain nervous about the moratorium’s impact on cities’ business recruitment efforts.
“My main concern is economic development and opportunities that might come along this year [and the moratorium] prevent a city from helping” make that happen, Mahery said.
Noting that job creation is one of Haslam’s top issues, Mahery said, “There could be some damage done. Don’t know where it’s going to be, but the possibility lies there.”
Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor, “deferred [to legislators] on the legislation, and after reviewing the bill in its final form, he was comfortable with the language,” said David Smith, the governor’s spokesman.
The state comptroller on Monday issued a stern warning to Memphis officials about the city’s fiscal condition, reports the Commercial Appeal. He focused concerns on a debt refinance plan the city wants to undertake that defers debt to about 2025. State Comptroller Justin P. Wilson called such fiscal moves “scoop and toss” because they defer debt years down the road.
The comptroller late Monday released copies of a letter and financial report he sent to Mayor A C Wharton and City Council members earlier in the day that reveal officials have been in discussions with the state’s chief fiscal compliance officer for several weeks about Memphis finances.
In the letter, Wilson outlined several corrective measures the city must take before he will sign off on the municipal bond refunding plan — designed to defer obligations to 2025 and free up more cash flow for current obligations — but Wilson said those steps are more technical in nature and the city needs to address its underlying fiscal problems of low fund reserves, a declining tax base and budgetary imbalance.
In the letter, the comptroller wrote that “It is critical that Memphis change its course to reverse” those trends. “Tough decisions are necessary to change that direction. Failure to make the decisions could have very serious consequences. I pledge our support.”
In a brief interview later, Wilson said that the city’s “financial reporting is good. And Mayor Wharton to his credit recognizes they have a serious problem that if not corrected, could lead to real disaster. I think they’ve recognized this can’t go on forever. Apparently this has been building up for a long period of time.
A state lawmaker whose vehicle was shown speeding by a traffic camera in upper East Tennessee co-sponsored a bill to take that camera down this year, reports The City Paper. Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) was cited for driving 60 miles an hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone while driving in Bluff City in 2010, just weeks before voters elected him to a third election. The photo-enforced traffic cameras did not show images of the driver, and Lundberg said an employee of his public relations firm was driving the company vehicle at the time.
The traffic camera speeding ticket “has absolutely zero effect” on his decision to sponsor the bill, Lundberg told The City Paper. “In fact, until you said that, I completely forgot about that.”
Lundberg was cited after his 1998 Ford F15 was pictured driving 15-miles over the speed limit just after lunchtime on Oct. 21, 2010. The $90 fine was paid. Because the traffic camera images do not include a photo of the driver, the ticket is considered a non-moving infraction.
The stretch of road leading up to the photo-enforced intersection had been a point of controversy a month before Lundberg’s company vehicle sped through the intersection. Local city officials were figuring out when and whether to change speed limits leading up to the site in reaction to a new ban freshly approved by lawmakers that spring to space out speed reductions and photo-enforced cameras.
The cameras are still a sore spot to this day, said Lundberg. He said he receives constant complaints that the traffic cameras are a deterrent for travelers wanting to visit the Bristol Motor Speedway in his district. He said he is also worried about traffic crashes at the site of the cameras.
— Note: The bill, HB314, did not pass.
JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (AP) — Some Jonesborough residents are upset over an advertisement in the March issue of Southern Living magazine that features a photograph of their city with the words “Start Your Adventure in Johnson City.”
The advertisement was placed by the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and “Start Your Adventure in Johnson City” is the chamber’s slogan.
Chamber President and CEO Gary Mabrey told the Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/10Bjxrc) said the group’s national ads often feature sites outside of Johnson City, such as the Gray Fossil Site.
“I see it as advertising this community,” he said. “I see it as Johnson City advertising a community and all that we have to offer and all that we offer around us.”
But Jonesborough resident and business owner Steve Cook said he felt it was almost false advertising. He said Jonesborough is attractive and has a lot going on but not given any credit by the chamber.
“We just thought it was real strange that they would post that, and then they come down here and want businesses to join their Chamber … and they give you a sticker that says ‘Start Your Adventure in Johnson City,'” he said. “I don’t think so.
Sales tax on certain goods sold in downtown Nashville would effectively increase by a small fraction under state legislation Mayor Karl Dean’s administration supports as a way to generate new funds to recruit conventions to the Music City Center, according to the Tennessean. The proposal, which originated with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau and a handful of Lower Broadway merchants looking for new ways to attract large conventions, would institute a new 0.025 percent fee on goods and services within Nashville’s downtown business district.
Tourism officials plan to use the funds to underwrite the rent of Music City Center as an incentive to lure conventions here. Sales tax in Davidson County is currently 9.25 cents on every dollar.
The legislation calls the measure a “fee,” one that would produce an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million annually. It would go into effect in 2014.
“The CVB and downtown business owners brought forward this idea and we support it as something that will further bolster our tourism industry,” Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said in a prepared statement.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, and co-sponsored by the majority of Davidson County’s state delegation, heads to the State Government Subcommittee this week.
The Cleveland City Council deadlocked Monday on a nonbinding request that Councilman Charlie McKenzie resign over racial slurs he allegedly made while working for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The council voted 3-3 on a proposal of formal disapproval of McKenzie’s actions and a call for him to abandon his position as District 1 councilman. Councilmen Bill Estes, Avery Johnson and Richard Banks supported the measures; Councilmen David May, Dale Hughes and George Poe opposed them
The proposed sanctions, introduced by Estes, came two weeks after McKenzie, fellow councilmen and members of the Bradley County NAACP met about the situation. At that meeting, McKenzie said he apologized if he had ever said anything to offend anyone.
“I’ve said and I’ve said and I’ve said,” McKenzie responded Monday to a request for a statement.
Two white deputies with the sheriff’s office, Anthony Liner and Kristi Barton, both of whom worked alongside McKenzie when he served as a part-time deputy, filed statements Jan. 18 about racial slurs they maintain they heard McKenzie make, records show.
“Over the last several months, while training Deputy Charlie McKenzie, I have heard him make a number of derogatory statements regarding race,” Liner wrote. “I have heard him refer to African-Americans as spook, coon, spade and n —- .”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis City Council has given preliminary approval to changes in parade permits that would ban the wearing of masks.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/Y3texd ) reported the change was proposed after the Ku Klux Klan requested a parade permit to protest an effort to rename three city parks.
The KKK wants to rally on March 30 in downtown Memphis. The council is considering renaming parks that memorialize the Confederacy from Civil War times.
Police Director Toney Armstrong said masks are a problem, but he is more concerned about concealed weapons.
“Certainly I cannot allow (armed) people walking around this city with masks or concealing their identity, even if you have a handgun carry permit, because I have no way of knowing who you are,” Armstrong said.
Council member Shea Flinn said members must be careful to not curtail free expression.
“You are having some real potential for government suppression of speech here, and I want to make sure we’re not way on the other side of that,” Flinn said.
The council must pass the proposal on two more readings before it would become law.
If ultimately approved, it would require groups receiving parade permits to “secure the police protection deemed necessary” and pay for it. The proposal would also make it unlawful to wear a mask or disguise with the intent to violate state civil law outlawing civil rights intimidation.
Additionally, it would ban any person at an assembly to carry weapons that would violate state law banning carrying weapons in public parks, civic centers, and public recreational buildings and grounds.
The white supremacist group applied for the parade permit after a proposal emerged in the council to change the names of the parks. If it is approved, Forrest Park would become Health Sciences Park, Confederate Park would be renamed Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park would be known as Mississippi River Park.
Forrest Park is named for Confederate cavalry officer Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The park is also his burial place.
Also on Tuesday, the council appointed a committee to review the proposal to change the park names.