Opinion » Editorial

... Or Get Off the Pot


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In the course of unveiling to Memphis Rotarians on Tuesday the particulars of a new "City of Choice" P.R. campaign for what is more familiarly known as the city of Memphis, City Council chairman Myron Lowery delivered himself of one of

those seemingly impetuous outbursts which co-exist in his character with an otherwise orderly and genial demeanor.

Lowery was commenting on the latest chapter of the Bass-Pro-to-the-Pyramid saga — one which finds the city, having just acquired the county's power of attorney and its ownership rights to the Pyramid, empowered at last to deal one-on-one with the giant outdoors outfitter's chain regarding its on-again/off-again development plans for the vacant facility.

"It's time for them to put up or shut up," said Lowery of Bass Pro, expressing a sentiment which surely lies latent on every tongue in our town. So far, so good. Down the line of his remarks, the phrase would return to the chairman's lips — this time in relation to a more controversial subject: His Honor the mayor, Willie Herenton. Or rather to the mayor's chief nemesis these days, which is not Steve Cohen, the 9th District congressman whom Herenton aims to replace, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which may envision other plans for the mayor's future.

Indeed, there is something in the FBI's vague dangling of its intentions across the space of months, if not years, that does remind us of Bass Pro's maddeningly irresolute behavior regarding the Pyramid. "I'm tired of hearing about it," said Lowery. "The FBI should put up or shut up!"

By golly, we thought, the man's right. As news-media people ourselves, we have shed many a tear for the plight of the city's TV stations, which in these recession times have so often committed expensive personnel and equipment to day-long — sometimes week-long — death-watches along the concrete plains that connect City Hall with the nearby Federal Building. So far, all for naught.

Nor was Lowery through. He didn't quite employ the magic phrase again, but he seemed equally put out when he noted that negotiations had "stalled" between the city (read: the mayor) and the entrepreneurs who would redevelop the Fairgrounds.

There is indeed much old business to complete before we can even contemplate that grand urban future which is to be boasted under the head of "City of Choice." Keep firing, Myron! We're frustrated, too. But another metaphor occurs to us — one which precedes the phrase which constitutes the headline of this editorial.

On the Other Hand ...

Sometimes the absence of action is exactly the right action. Such was the case when, after a marathon session Monday afternoon, the Shelby County Commission voted to defer action on some 100 employee layoffs proposed by the county administration. After hearing convincingly righteous testimony from the heads of several county departments — notably the Sheriff's Department — about the potential ruinous effects of the layoffs, the commission quite properly voted to commit the whole mess to the body's budget committee for another review. Granted, there may be no obvious alternative, but, where lives and public safety are concerned, it won't hurt to take another look.

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