When Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey of Blountville took time out from difficult budget negotiations on Capitol Hill to fly to Memphis last week for a one-hour visit — during which he spoke to a Republican women's group in Collierville and after which he flew immediately back to Nashville — he was paying homage to the importance of Shelby County in the 2010 race for Tennessee governor.
Presumably, Ramsey took the trouble to come here largely because his two Republican rivals in the gubernatorial race — Chattanooga congressman Zach Wamp and Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam — had also come. The GOP candidates spoke from the same dais and then went their separate ways, resuming what has become a fair amount of intramural sniping among the three of them.
Whatever the state of their regard for each other, the three Republicans and Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, the remaining Democratic candidate for governor, have naught but praise for Memphis and Shelby County. They all recognize that the county provides anywhere from a sixth to a fifth of the statewide vote, in either primary, as well as in the general election later on.
For all his deference to Shelby County last week, Ramsey still has some catching up to do, as does McWherter. Neither has yet named a basic component of his campaign after Memphis, as both Wamp ("Memphis Matters") and Haslam ("Memphis Plan") have.
There's still time, and, given the urgency of several local issues, notably educational restructuring and financial support for the Med, we would advise: The more specific the better. And thanks for coming.
This space has seen numerous posthumous eulogies over the 20-odd years of the Flyer's existence, and we choose to take note of developer Harold Buehler's sudden and unexpected death not necessarily to insert him into any panoply of greats and near-greats. Rather famously, Buehler had both admirers and detractors, and both were in full cry over the past year during a prolonged controversy over his mode of infill development in the inner city.
Either you think Buehler served a social need, by putting new residential structures where vacant lots had been, or you take a dubious view of the rental houses he constructed in those places. He was called savior or slumlord, depending on one's vantage point.
But overlooked in all the controversy was the fact that Buehler spent his lifetime in the nexus between black and white, and his commitment to joining the two halves of our community was made evident not only by where he did his work but by the details of his previous career as a coach and educator in the African-American community. He was the founder of a North Memphis track club that generated world-class athletes like Olympic gold medalist Rochelle Stevens. And, surely, the fact of two interracial marriages in Buehler's immediate family, including a past one of his own, symbolized the man's commitment to racial harmony.
We sympathize with his widow, Jo Ellen Buehler, and with the rest of his immediate and extended family for their loss.