What’s Happening In Memphis?

Friends, We’ve been talking about our city’s momentum for a while now. This week, we’ve seen even more proof that folks outside Memphis are noticing it, too. On Tuesday, it was announced that IRONMAN is bringing the newest IRONMAN 70.3 to Shelby Farms Park in October of next year. The course will feature a 1.2-mile swim, a 13.1 mile run inside the park, and a 56-mile bike ride that begins and ends in Shelby Farms, for a total 70.3-mile course. And then yesterday, the City of Memphis and Renasant Bank announced that the Memphis convention and meetings facility will be renamed the Renasant Convention Center. The naming rights partnership, which takes effect immediately, runs for 10 years. The bank has the option to extend the naming rights for two additional five-year terms.  The naming rights agreement provides guaranteed revenue for the City-owned building.  After the renovations are complete, Renasant’s logo will be featured on the exterior of the facility, complementing the all-new glass and paneled façade.  Any big project like this requires great partners, and we definitely have one in Renasant Bank. They see the vision and the momentum we have in our city and want to play a major role in our future. The Renasant Convention Center will be a building that Memphians can be proud of and visitors won’t want to leave. Life’s about second chances: Reducing recidivism, and helping ex-offenders get back on their feet, has always been a priority and passion of ours. Four years ago, we partnered with the faith-based community and created Manhood University—a six-week program created to inspire men to build up their communities, find jobs, and create stronger relationships. During this program, participants learn to develop goal-setting, time management, financial literacy, conflict resolution, job readiness and communication skills.  Over the last year, because of the success of Manhood University, we reallocated funds and created a women’s program called WOWS (Women Offering Women Support). This six-week program is delivered by community partners focusing on parenting philosophies, health and wellness, and financial literacy. This past Friday and again on Saturday morning, I had the honor to speak to the most recent graduates of our Manhood and WOWS programs. To date, over 300 men have gone through our Manhood program and another 100 have gone through WOWS. The future prosperity of our City depends on the investments we make in our citizens today, and I was proud to have been a part of their graduation ceremonies last week. Memphis 3.0 Update: The Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan process began in November 2016 and continued for more than two years. During that process, over 15,000 Memphians participated in hundreds of community meetings to share their input. The plan was adopted as the City’s general plan for development by the Memphis & Shelby County Land Use Control Board in February and adopted by my Executive Order in May. Since then, we’ve been busy, and I just wanted to give you a quick list of some of those completed items:First round of expenditures from the Community Catalyst Fund were made on projects in the Raleigh (Austin Peay and Yale), Whitehaven (Elvis Presley and Raines), and Binghampton (Tillman Cove Apartments).Launched the Community Coalition Building Program to support a greater level of community involvement in planning activities with the first areas of focus being Orange Mound and Binghampton.Initiated the process to deploy first round of funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, giving priority to projects that are in and around plan anchor areas.The Uptown TIF has been expanded to include three additional “nurture” anchors—New Chicago, Bickford area, and Smokey City. Eligible activities include single family rehabilitation, which was a major recommendation for this area.MATA and the City were awarded a $12 million BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Memphis Innovation Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.The Memphis Fire Department has developed a facilities master plan that addresses coverage, population, resources, and response times.Established free public wi-fi at all libraries and community centers.Several vacant and dilapidated apartment complexes are in progress to be demolished in Whitehaven, Frayser, and Binghampton. They are all in or near anchor communities where district recommendations were to decrease blight and vacancy.Public Safety: I just wanted to take a quick minute to applaud our 42 new Memphis police officers! This is an increase of 188 officers in the last 28 months. And, I also want to congratulate the 29 firefighters who received promotions earlier this week. On behalf of a grateful city, thank you for what you do every single day to keep us safe. Changes: As we close in on the start of my second term, there will be some changes to my senior leadership team taking effect on Jan. 1.  Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen, will return to private practice full-time; Chief of Staff Lisa Geater, will retire from the city after 31 years; and Special Counsel to the Mayor Alan Crone, will also return private practice full-time. Bruce was instrumental in the successful legal strategy to remove Confederate statues by selling two city parks to the local non-profit Memphis Greenspace. He increased the Division of Law’s spend with women and minority attorneys to 40 percent, and expanded the City’s efforts to fight blight and improve neighborhoods through our partnership with the University of Memphis School of Law. Lisa has been invaluable to the City for more than three decades, serving with more than 45 City Council members during her tenure.  She has provided a steady hand and a calm voice through some of the most turbulent times in Memphis, smoothly transitioning into a leadership role in the mayor’s office to continue to shape the progress of our City. Alan led our legislative efforts in Nashville, including helping to resolve the de-annexation issue.  He has given direction in our development agreement with Loews Hotels and has guided our process on the reimagining of the riverfront. Through my first term, I had the honor to be surrounded by some of the most talented and dedicated public servants to champion our city. Bruce, Lisa and Alan, have been an integral part of my team, and their work and counsel have had an incredible, positive impact on city government and me personally. It’s with profound gratitude that I wish them well in all their future endeavors.

Read about important announcements and updates that directly affect Memphis here.


Weekly Update
Friends,  As you may have seen two days ago, the Court issued a ruling declining our motion to modify the 1978 Consent Decree. That being said, it’s by no means a bad thing. From the City’s standpoint, we’re actually very pleased that the Court is not interpreting the Consent Decree so narrowly as to prohibit our work with CrimeStoppers and the Multiagency Gang Unit. In last week’s email, I listed out three different scenarios. What may not have been clear is that all three scenarios were real-life situations that were presented to the Monitor.  We received an interpretation of the decree from the Monitor that suggested that MPD was severely limited in addressing the situations. For example, in scenario three, we were instructed that we could not accept the information nor pass it along to the Grizzlies security staff. Based on this interpretation of the decree by the Monitor, we were concerned that we would not be able to accept tips from extremely helpful citizens or organizations like CrimeStoppers or even continue to effectively operate the Multiagency Gang Unit. The newly issued ruling gives some clarification and guidance on what the City can and cannot do when it comes to police officers being able to effectively do their jobs—keeping all of us safe. First 8 Launch: We’ve worked hard to do our part to help the youth of our city choose the right path instead of the wrong one. We’ve added literacy programming in summer camps, expanded library programming, re-opened branch libraries on Fridays, and we’re reinvesting in our community centers. But, we still need to do more. Instead of reaching children when they’re potentially already behind, we need a more comprehensive approach to make sure they don’t fall behind in the first place. That’s why yesterday we had the official launch of First 8 Memphis, a comprehensive early childhood system that focuses on children from 0-8 years of age by taking a holistic approach and investing in home visitation programs, expanding to child care, Pre-K and K-3 services. As is stands right now, roughly 24 percent of third grade students in Shelby County Schools are reading at grade level. It’s unacceptable. That’s why for more than two years, the City and County worked together to find a way to expand Pre-K, a key strategy in the First 8’s early childhood system. And this past spring, we proposed a joint ordinance to fund 1,400 Pre-K seats as part of our larger plan for universal Pre-K. First 8 will be the fiscal agent to ensure the money is well spent and metrics will be used to ensure our children are receiving the education they deserve.  I’m excited about what this means for our children. They’re the future of Memphis, and their success or failure will define our city’s path for years to come. Golf: Most folks don’t get to say that they work with a Hall of Famer. At the City of Memphis, we do. Recently, our own Administrator of Golf, Mickey Barker, was inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame for his exceptional play on the men’s golf team during his time as a Bison. At the City, he has improved our golf programs and the courses in our system. Congrats on this honor, Mickey! Keep Swinging!


Changes for property alarm customers

Posted on 11/04/2019

The rules for alarm customers and false alarms are changing, effective January 1, 2020, in Memphis. 

On January 1, the following changes will go into effect:

1. Alarm customers will be required to seek and/or renew the permit for their alarm with the Metro Alarms office. In the past, this may have been handled by your alarm company. Moving forward, it will be your responsibility as the customer to renew your permit annually.

2. Permitted alarm customers will get one free false alarm. The second false alarm, and all subsequent false alarms, will result in a fine plus a cost of service charge.

3. Unpermitted alarms will not be allotted a free false alarm and subject to an additional fee. When a false alarm occurs, unpermitted alarm customers will be liable for an additional $20 administrative fee and be subject to the cost of service charges.

4. Commercial “Hold Up” alarms are now subject to an additional fee.

For more detail on the ordinance and how to get a permit for your alarm, please visit memphistn.gov/alarmchanges.

For other inquiries, please write to alarmquestions@memphistn.gov or call 211.

City unveils Memphis Data HubPosted on 10/30/2019

The City of Memphis has unveiled a state-of-the-art data hub that the public can access 24/7.

Memphis Data Hub

The new data website includes six main features:

  • Performance Dashboard – review city government metrics in the following categories: Neighborhoods, Good Government, Public Safety, Youth, and Jobs. 
  • Data Stories – read about the different ways in which City divisions are using data to improve service delivery.
  • Public Safety – explore the mapping tool that shows the types and frequency of reported crime incidents in different neighborhoods. 
  • Open 311 – examine open and closed service requests across the city.
  • Civic Assets – discover community resources in specific areas, such as police stations, libraries, and parks.  
  • Capital Projects – see what City projects are underway.

Users can also access the public data catalog, submit suggestions for future dataset releases, and read the Memphis Data Hub Guide to understand more about the site.

“The new site is intended to increase usability and resident engagement, and it builds on the Mayor’s commitment to hold city government accountable for its performance,” Craig Hodge, of the Office of Performance Management said. “Internally, the Data Hub is the foundation for how we continually use data to inform our decisions; having a platform to load and share data across divisions allows City leaders to break down silos and better work together to be ‘brilliant at the basics’.”  

Click here to visit the Memphis Data Hub. 

Update on the Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and HungryPosted on 11/05/2019

We are so overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity from so many of you who have reached out and want to help continue the tradition of the Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry that has always been provided by the Thanksgiving Dinner Committee. Because so many of you reached out, the City is in the process of formulating a plan to continue the dinner this year for the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll have more details soon. 

Statement From the Memphis Thanksgiving Dinner Committee:

The 35th Annual Memphis Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry has been canceled at the Memphis Cook Convention Center for this year.

Because of the extensive renovation work being done to upgrade and improve the Convention Center, it would provide great logistical challenges both inside and out thus hampering our ability to provide the wonderful level of service our community has been accustomed to in years past.

Event organizer Earl Sayles and the Thanksgiving Dinner Committee agree this is disappointing, however, the future of the event next year is certain. “We thank the City of Memphis and the Cook for the coordinated cooperation they have given for more than thirty years to take care and give back to the less fortunate population in hosting this wonderful event. We look forward to coming back home in 2020 to a bigger and better Cook Convention Center”.

This annual event is sponsored by the Memphis Thanksgiving Committee, The City of Memphis, the CCC along with several local businesses to provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal and services to those less fortunate in the greater Memphis area.

Friends, In case you missed it, we received some big news earlier this week. After years of work, our city’s push for more investment in public transit scored a major victory in the form of a $12 million BUILD grant to the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This grant will help fund the Memphis Innovation Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project bringing higher capacity and frequency levels of service to connect Downtown, the Medical District, and the University of Memphis – three of the most critical employment centers in our city’s core. But, this project has even broader impact, serving as the spine of a more frequent transit network called for in the Memphis 3.0 Transit Vision. In short, this project helps to reduce commute times, increases levels of service, and provides a catalyst for new growth. Another reason this is a big deal—the BUILD grant is one of the most competitive federal transportation grants. This was truly a team effort, and we could not have done it without so many partners advocating on our behalf. At the federal level, Senators Alexander and Blackburn and Congressmen Cohen and Kustoff all provided critical support. At the state and local levels, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Clay Bright, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, the Shelby County Commission, and Memphis City Council all gave key support to the project. Employers and institutions along the corridor such as AutoZone, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, ServiceMaster, Methodist LeBonheur Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Southwest Tennessee Community College all gave steadfast support. And, for the last two years, FedEx, University of Memphis, and the Greater Memphis Chamber have not only given their support, they’ve been at the table with us in Washington D.C. as we’ve made our case for why Memphis needs bus rapid transit. Setting the record straight: Last week, we talked about the 1978 Consent Decree and how it can potentially limit MPD’s ability to proactively use technology to keep everyone safe. I want to say that last line one more time—it can potentially limit MPD’s ability to proactively use technology to keep everyone safe. I want to reiterate that point because I don’t want it to get lost in the noise that MPD is “spying” or restricting anyone’s right to protest or express their feelings about a particular issue. I fully support the right to protest. On page three of the Judge’s most recent order, he states, “[T]he Court does not sanction the City or its officers for discriminating against certain points of view. For the most part, the officers of MPD have demonstrated their dedication to protecting First Amendment rights regardless of protester opinion.” That being said, the Decree has much further reaching implications. Let’s go through a couple examples to show what I’m talking about. Scenario 1: Several dignitaries from various government agencies come to town for a summit or symposium. Each dignitary has its own security force (i.e. Secret Service, FBI and TBI). The agencies are not bound by the Consent Decree. One of those agencies receives intelligence of a planned disturbance to shut down certain roads and leave the dignitaries exposed for an excessive period of time requiring increased manpower. Under the Decree, those agencies cannot share that information with MPD, and MPD could not assist or cooperate with any of the other agencies. Scenario 2: A television show is being filmed in Memphis. The show’s security team gets a tip from social media that a large fight may happen at the filming location. If MPD coordinated with the show’s security, it would have violated the Consent Decree. MPD cannot accept information from a third party that does not comply with the Decree, nor can we share any information with them because they are not under the Decree. Scenario 3: Two people are eating lunch at a restaurant, and at the next table, a group is talking about staging a disruption to shut down a basketball game inside FedEx Forum during a live broadcast. MPD cannot receive or act on this information because the two people who gave the tip were not bound by the Consent Decree. What this essentially means is our officers cannot ask you to participate in the national “If you see something, say something” campaign because they cannot accept that information. I’m telling you this not to scare you, but to demonstrate the fact that there are potentially significant challenges caused by the restrictions laid out in the Decree. I want you to have a full understanding of them and know how it can play out in a real-world situation. Thank you. Thank you very much: This week Memphis Tourism spent some time in Liverpool, England. Although our cities may be thousands of miles apart, we still have many things in common—the strongest of those is our musical history. The blues and rock-n-roll were created right here in Memphis, but it didn’t take long for those sounds to spread like wildfire. The boys known as the “Fab Four”—John, Paul, George and Ringo of The Beatles took the world by storm with their twist on the genre. Kevin Kane and Memphis Tourism along with Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson formalized our two cities’ bond with an official plaque on Matthew Street outside the Cavern Club (the early home of The Beatles). The United Kingdom is one of our largest overseas tourism markets, and this marker will serve as a reminder of where it all started.

11/07/2019 MATA gets $12M federal grant for Bus Rapid Transit line https://dailymemphian.com/article/8678/mata-gets-12m-federal-grant-for-bus-rapid-transit?fbclid=IwAR19br-cuInrGXecdixqQLT5joOO_5ghkY4hYn1Dr3He8bT7LmJ4-P2wwNA

Weekly Update
Friends,The storms at the beginning of this week hit hard leaving many without power and some without a place to go home.One of the hardest hit areas was the Cottonwood Apartments in Parkway Village. Extensive damage caused by Monday morning’s storm left some of the Cottonwood Apartments unsafe for residents. There are 47 buildings on the property; 41 of them received some type of damage; and 16 received extensive damage. Because of this, MLG&W was forced to turn off gas and some electricity to the complex, and City of Memphis Code Enforcement has restricted access to some of the buildings. Residents of those 16 structurally unsafe buildings, in coordination with the property owner and the City, are in the process of finding other housing arrangements.The safety of the residents during this already difficult time is our top priority. The last thing we want to happen is for someone get hurt or worse because they tried to remain in a building that is not safe. We’re working diligently with the property manager, the Office of Emergency Management, the Division of Housing and Community Development, Memphis Housing Authority, other local property managers, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and many others to help provide wrap-around services for residents’ short-term needs while at the same time working to find a long-term housing solution.If you, your business, or your church family would like to volunteer or make a donation, please contact the Red Cross. To donate, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 for an automatic $10 donation. To volunteer, visit redcross.org, or call the Mid-South Red Cross at 901-726-1690.Opportunities in October: In 2015, Memphis was said by one national study to have the highest percentage of “opportunity youth” of any city in the country. For those who may not be familiar with the term, opportunity youth are young people between the ages of 16 – 24 years old, out of school, and are chronically unemployed. These young people are not being reached by our traditional means, and we must do more if we’re going to help them change course.In this year’s budget presentation, I talked about a plan to help solve this issue, and we’re working that plan. This past Wednesday our Office of Youth Services and City of Memphis Communications hosted “Opportunities in October”. We partnered with Shelby County Schools, Southwest TN Community College, and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) to offer an all-day session at the Pipkin building. During the event, attendees received training in resume writing, career planning, job readiness training, and help with navigating the many avenues of financial aid.Overall, it was a well-attended, successful event, and we look forward to doing more of them in the coming year.Happy Birthday Shelby County: Today, Mayors from all seven municipalities in Shelby County announced a special event that will be held on November 24th (Shelby County’s founding day) at Shelby Farms to commemorate 200 years of history.Throughout our past, Memphis and Shelby County have played a major role in shaping the world as we know it today. Whether it’s our music, life-saving heroes at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or the always reliable express package delivery from FedEx, Memphis touches people around the world every single day. To learn more about our history and the many events leading up the County bicentennial celebration, visit www.mem200.com.Cheers to our New Century of Soul!


10/18/2019 U of M lands cybersecurity HQ, more than 150 jobs. Read more about it at https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2019/10/17/u-of-m-lands-cybersecurity-hq-more-than-150-jobs.html?iana=hpmvp_memp_news_headline