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Flyer Flashback

To mark the Flyer's 20th anniversary, we're looking back at stories from our first two decades.



"They've got no business telling me what to do! In fact, the editorial staff down there [at the Flyer] can go to hell! Yeah, put that in big, bold headlines: 'Go to Hell!' It's nobody's business how I make my money or who I appoint to do things for Memphis! I appoint the best people I know. I always have, and I always will."

The man issuing the directive is Mayor Willie Herenton, quoted in Jackson Baker's "Public Reckoning for a Private Mayor," from the May 29th, 1997, issue. The mayor was unhappy about the Flyer's reporting on his business relationship with Sungold Gaming International, a Canadian casino company.

"Sheriff [A.C.] Gilless, who was walking alongside, seemed to take the outburst as a continuation of the mayor's earlier jesting during his remarks at the press conference.


"'That's it, mayor, tell 'em!' said the smiling Gilless, who has had his own occasional problems with the media.

"But Herenton seemed not to notice the sheriff's supportive remark. He proceeded straight ahead, flanked by an equally somber bodyguard, lost in his thoughts — looking, an onlooker realized, like the same bunkered-down and beleaguered being he had been once before, almost a decade ago, when, at the conclusion of what had theretofore been a sunny reign as superintendent of city schools, Herenton suddenly faced nonstop charges of personal and administrative irregularities.

"Had that point of the cycle," Baker wrote, "been reached again?"

Gilless passed away in 2004. Herenton's business dealings continue to draw media scrutiny, most recently his involvement with the downtown Greyhound bus depot.

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