Forty-one mayors from along the Mississippi River, including Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, gathered in St. Louis Thursday to call attention to the troubles the waterway is facing, reports the Commercial Appeal. The nation’s largest river, and most important waterway for commerce, has suffered over the years from neglect and most recently from natural disasters such as drought and hurricanes.
The St. Louis gathering is the inaugural event of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, funded by $250,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
The meeting comes amid a severe drought that has seen the river drop to near record lows, just over a year after historic flooding.
“It has strengthened our resolve that the Mississippi River needs more attention,” said Wharton, who was selected by his peers to serve on the nine-member executive board of the initiative.
Barely a year after its high-water records in numerous cities, the river dropped to historic low stages this year. In Memphis in late August, the river dropped to within almost a foot of the all-time record low set in July 1988 of minus 10.7 on the Memphis gauge.The river is responsible for creating $105 billion worth of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. It provides drinking water for more than 18 million people, transports 62 percent of the nation’s agricultural output and delivers nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products. The group says the river directly supports 1 million jobs.
This summer, eight of the 10 states touching the river were declared drought emergency sites. Hurricane Isaac added to the problems.
State Rep. G.A. Hardaway Sr. owes Memphis and Shelby County $39,000 in taxes and weed-cutting fees on three local properties, reports The Commercial Appeal. Hardaway says his mother died in 2007 and left several properties to her four children, and that there’s confusion over who’s responsible for them. “Well, from my understanding all of the (children’s names) should be on all of the properties,” Hardaway said. He also said he believed his former attorney had made arrangements to pay the taxes.
Hardaway’s situation was just one of the discoveries The Commercial Appeal made as it reviewed paper trails for more than 40 candidates in contested races in the Aug. 2 elections. The newspaper looked at criminal records, bankruptcies, civil lawsuits and property tax payments, among other documents.
…House District 84 (Democrats)
Hendrell Remus: The University of Memphis sued Remus and in January won a judgment of about $6,000. Remus said the case came about when he used a check to rent a stage for a performance of an inspirational play he had written. The check bounced.
He said he’s almost cleared the debt. “I think next week will be the last payment and we should be done with that.”
Incumbent state Rep. Joe Towns Jr. has missed the deadline to pay 2011 Shelby County taxes of $1,050 on his property.
…Incumbent Rep. John DeBerry Jr. agreed to a General Sessions consent judgment of about $6,500 in 2008 after not making payments on two leased recliners from Ashley Furniture. The company attempted to garnish his state wages, but paperwork shows the state won’t do it because it’s already garnishing his legislative wages for another judgment.
I didn’t default on anything,” DeBerry said Monday. “Those recliners are sitting in my office right now, paid in full.”
A judgment in a Chancery Court lawsuit filed by Penton Publishing Inc. in 2003 led to years of garnishments against DeBerry’s state legislative salary, according to an online summary of the case. The case file wasn’t available in the Downtown courthouse.
DeBerry says the garnishment is an old business dispute involving his advertising agency. “I’m responsible and I was the logical person to go after, and everyone went after me.” He said he’s let the garnishment stay in place because the opposing side “went behind my back and got the judgment when we could have had a settlement.”
He added: “I don’t have much debt. I’m 61 years old, and the only thing I haven’t paid in full is my house and my car.”
…(In the 9th Congressional District Republican primary)
A collection agency sued Charlotte Bergmann in Shelby County General Sessions court earlier this year, seeking payment for $9,600 owed on her Chase Bank account. Bergmann said this case is related to a foreclosure of her home in 2006. She said the foreclosure forced her to sleep in her car for some months; that the bank actually owes her money, not the other way around; and that the issue is coming up now for political reasons. “I am the strongest candidate at this point, so there is some political dirt being thrown up.”
Savage Construction Co. filed suit against George Flinn in November 2008, saying that it had agreed to renovate a house near Memphis Country Club for about $621,000 but that changes ordered by Flinn and others caused the size of the contract to increase to about $1.4 million.
The contractor filed suit in Chancery Court, seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars. The two sides settled last year. “We’re friends and we’re moving on,” Flinn said.
Ernest Lunati is a perennial candidate whose Shelby County criminal record lists a nickname, “The Amazing E,” and more than 30 encounters with police, starting in the 1960s. Several of his arrests are for promoting prostitution or pornography, and he was convicted under an obscenity statute in 1983.
In 1998, he fired a shot at a father and son who were looking at what a police officer described as a possible stolen pickup truck on a parking lot on Summer Avenue. The bullet bounced off the truck’s tailgate and hit the father in the leg, according to a police affidavit. Lunati later pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment charges and was sentenced to a year in prison.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three years ago, Rep. Joe Towns failed to make Tennessee the first state to fine teenagers for wearing saggy britches. Now the Memphis Democrat has a more comprehensive measure that would prohibit “risque dressing” in schools — and its chances of passage are looking good.
The proposal is headed for a House floor vote and is moving steadily in the Senate. The bill seeks to prohibit students from exposing “underwear or body parts in an indecent manner that disrupts the learning environment.”
It means that in addition to boys not letting their pants sag, female student athletes might be required to wear shirts over their sports bras if they were deemed inappropriate by school officials.
“It’s raising the standard of dress when they’re attending public schools,” Towns said. “It specifically states that they cannot come to the schools with their buttocks displayed, breast and things displayed — risque dressing.”
Memphis Democratic Rep. Joe Towns has tried unsuccessfully for several years to make it against the law for young men to wear pants so loose that they sag below the waistline, a proposal christened the “saggy pants bill.” He’s taking a new tact this year, reports WPLN. His current bill (HB3679) came up in the House Education Subcommittee, where it got more help than he expected. That’s because it would ban any underwear from showing. Knoxville Republican Bill Dunn expressed his shock at the way women athletes dress.
“…. having several children who play sports, it’s pretty shocking to me that you go to practices and games and young ladies are walking around in sports bras…would that be considered underwear?”
Currently dress codes are the responsibility of each school district.
The bill, which, so far, does not mandate particular uniforms for women athletes, was approved and sent to the House Education Committee.
,,, Towns’ anti-baggy pants bill was fought off for several legislative sessions as targeting young urban blacks. Other Democrats, also members of the Black Caucus, complained that any such bill would be used by police exclusively against young black men.
The current version writes into law a requirement that school dress codes specifically address the baggy pants issue. Towns:
“But what it does, it requires local education to provide a provision in the student discipline code, that prohibits students from wearing clothing that is worn inappropriately, underwear exposed, indecent manner which they feel disrupts the learning environment.”
Rep. Richard Montgomery, a Sevierville Republican, suggested the whole matter be addressed in a non-binding resolution urging such a course. He says it’s overkill to put such detail into Tennessee Code Annotated, the green law books that already take up two shelves in most legislative offices.
“We’ve put on this in Code …you know, these books, as has mentioned, we’re gonna have to start building more bookcases.”
Town’s explanation that it keeps students from showing their underwear apparently suggested further action to Dunn, a spokesman for many conservative issues, who brought up the question about sports bra.
“I’m serious…I hope that is included. I would consider that underwear, that they have. And they should wear shirts, instead of running around like that.”