Friday, October 13, 2006

The headlines in The Commercial Appeal this week about funding by the City of Chattanooga pension fund in a Memphis investment firm raised the eyebrows of federal investigators because of its striking similarities to a pension investment made by Shelby County Government with the same politically connected company.

In both cases, Delta Capital Management was on the receiving end of the investments.

In both cases, the mayors heading up the respective governments did not disclose their previous financial interests in the company.

In both cases, financial analysts for the governments cautioned against the investments.

In both cases, records indicate that the mayors helped along the firm in its application for funding, and in both cases, they did not appear at the meetings of the pension boards when they voted on the investments.

All in all, it piques the interest of the FBI investigators who spearheaded the Memphis federal grand jury investigation into the decision-making process for the Shelby County Retirement Board. It all came to naught when prosecutors produced a legal opinion that the county board was not subject to federal pension regulations, effectively shutting down the probe that had already brought almost a dozen people before the grand jury.

The old Memphis case attracted media interest again this week upon reports by our daily newspaper that former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker – now campaigning in a tight race for the U.S. Senate against Congressman Harold Ford – did not disclose that he had lost more than $1 million in an investment with Delta Capital. Several years ago, The Commercial Appeal had reported that the Memphis investigation was spawned by allegations that former Mayor Jim Rout failed to disclose that Delta Capital had repaid his investment in a company that had failed.

Keeping in mind that FBI agents say that most of their leads come from the news media, will the Chattanooga report produce an investigation and will it offer another way to restart the Memphis probe?


We are witnessing the death of shame. We think of this as we read that the Family Research Council (remember them, they’re the group that promotes the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian value system) is placing the blame on U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s demise on the underground gay movement in Washington, D.C.

In the process, the group continues the rhetoric that interchangeably uses homosexuality and pedophilia. On the day that we read about the group’s latest pandering, a man in Collierville was arrested for having sex with three young teenagers, a man in Colorado was arrested for having sex with a teenage girl and a female teacher in the Midwest was charged with having sex with a teenage boy student.

We’re just shocked that the Family Research Council hasn’t noticed the clear link between heterosexuality and pedophilia. And if it had been around all those centuries ago, I wonder what they would have said about the Messiah traipsing all over the Holy Land with 12 guys. A warning sign for sure.

How do people warp the Gospel enough that they can take the words of one of history’s great revolutionaries and use it as a weapon to beat up anyone who disagrees with their narrow-minded views?


Well, it’s clear that “robust” is the word of the season. It’s used to describe the size of our military presence in Iraq, our homeland security program, and the other day, we even heard it said that Memphis Public Library has a robust collection of books.

We’re not sure if they mean the books are strong and healthy, stoutly built, suited to bodily strength, rough and rude, or rich and full-bodied, but we do know that we’re worn out by the over-use of the word.

What is it about some word or phrase that makes it catch fire and gain wide usage even though it’s not used correctly?


We’re across the street from the headquarters of the Memphis Fire Department, so we’re used to seeing the firefighters waiting for action, talking with their neighbors, working on their equipment and engaging in the daily ritual of washing the director’s car. Somehow, we looked at them differently this week after the disastrous First Methodist Church fire.

Memphis has a long tradition of having one of the nation’s best fire departments, but over the years, we’ve apparently become too sophisticated to brag about such things any more.

A few decades ago, we bragged too about being one of America’s cleanest cities, we claimed the title of America’s safest city on occasion, and we were proud of our special beautification programs like City Beautiful. Lack of attention and budget has wiped away most of those boasts, but MFD remains.

Walking by the headquarters this week, the firefighters were getting their gear organized after a tough weekend. How do we really tell these public servants how much we think of them?


County officials have long wanted a fresh start at The Med, so this week’s announcement that the hospital’s president and CEO would step down next month brought smiles all around. The campaign for chance began with the appointment of Memphis business leader Jack Morris as the new chairman of the board, and when that appointment was made by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, it was only a matter of time. All of the high praise heaped on the president upon his resignation was reason enough to know that he had been asked to leave.

Can the changes at The Med signal the improvement in the public hospital’s performance?

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