Opinion » Editorial

Counting Bodies



Speaking to members of the downtown Rotary Club on Tuesday, the FBI's local special agent in charge, My Harrison, made the boast, "Our public-corruption program is second to none." There are several local government officials -- some in the frying pan, some already in the fire -- who can give rueful testimony to that. Besides the two City Council members against whom criminal complaints have already been filed, others are rumored to be in jeopardy. And, though no conclusions can be drawn at this point concerning those whom the FBI has scheduled interviews with, the very fact of their being mentioned suggests an ever-widening probe -- especially in light of Harrison's laying emphasis on the ever-improving nature of interagency collaboration.

Though her reference was primarily to the CIA and other national agencies concerned with counter-terrorist activities, it cannot have escaped notice that the recent arrests in connection with Operation Clean Sweep and Operation Main Street Sweeper involved tight liaison with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office. Given the nature of her work, and the fact of ongoing investigations, it was unsurprising that Harrison was on the whole rather unrevealing about what comes next. One inadvertent clue, perhaps, was her revelation of a term of art used by the bureau in announcing arrests: "body count."

Surely that Vietnam-era phrase was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. We would prefer to believe that, as Harrison assured us was the case, the "overwhelming majority" of our public officials are honest and conscientious citizens. Though the evidence must be pursued wherever it leads, we would just as soon believe that the number of live cases is limited to, say, the fingers of one hand.

Stax Lives

Millions of words have been written and spoken in tribute to Stax's contribution to Memphis music, but none of them were more eloquent than the Stax Music Academy's winter concert last Saturday at Lausanne Collegiate School.

The auditorium was full, and more than 100 people stood in the aisles throughout the 90-minute program. They saw one of the best Christmas programs of the season, even though there were only a few Christmas songs and they were done Stax-style.

More than 100 students from the academy performed in the symphony, swing band, drum line, rhythm section, and street-corner harmonies. With a terrific assist from guest artist (and future artist-in-residence) Kirk Whalum and the arrangements of artistic director Ashley K. Davis and other members of the staff, they brought Stax, Motown, Duke Ellington, and John Coltrane to life. The "Premier Percussionists" and the young sax players who went one-on-one with Whalum had the crowd roaring and on its feet.

The staff of Soulsville, its foundation, and the Stanford Wealth Management underwriters who produced the free concert deserve our thanks. Future performances should be at the Cannon Center or bigger venues. It was that good.

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