Archive for the ‘City Council’ Category

Strickland Worries-Police /Firefighters May Leave

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

November 7, 2019

 

There is a lead article in this morning’s edition of the CA.The Mayor worries that the recently passed ½ cent sales tax increase may result in police and firefighters may leave due to the $50 million increase in revenue.

I have written extensively in the past about another problem that is directly related to fire and police retirement, and that is the $15 million dollar hole in the pension bucket and that is the rate of LINE OF DUTY RETIREMENT at the city of Memphis compared to Shelby County Government and the MLGW. Following is an article I wrote 8 years ago and posted on memphisshelbyinform.com.

 

Wednesday, Channel 3, reported on the situation of the City of Memphis line of duty abuse to the cost of almost $12 million dollars per year. This situation has been going on for over 30 years at the City of Memphis and I estimate that the total payout is well over $100 million dollars out of the underfunded pension fund. When I alerted Channel 3 about this abuse, they did some great research on the annual cost and some of the people involved including Tennessee Republican Representative Curry Todd and others.

Comparing the 429 listed on the Channel 3 report, the number of line of duty disability retirements at Shelby County government and the MLGW are insignificant. Obviously there is a problem. The immediate problem is that approval or disapproval is given by the City of Memphis pension board made up mostly of the applicants’ co-workers whereas Shelby County turns approval over to an insurance company.

The bigger problem is the line of duty pension ordinance words. There is no provision for finding other work for the line of duty disability applicant, annual reviews or any other provisions that could prove that the applicant can or could do useful work for the city. This must be changed.

 

Recently I sent an open records request to the City of Memphis asking for the annual amount of Line of Duty payouts and they answered that it is $15.7 million dollars and remember that this is tax free to the retirees for life. I sent a similar request to Shelby County and to the MLGW but Shelby County has refused to answer and MLGW has said they are working on the request. In the past Shelby County Line of Duty payments and the MLGW have been 10 times less than the City of Memphis due to strict enforcement policies at the MLGW and at Shelby County a policy of turning over disability request to an outside insurance company.

Mayor Strickland has done a good job of reforming pension policies at the City of Memphis but he needs to reform the Line of Duty granting policies at the Pension Board.

Downtown, Memphis In May and Mud Island

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

July 30, 2019

 

Downtown, Memphis In May and Mud Island

 

I have lived in Memphis all my life, born and raised here and love the City. It is beautiful, livable and poised for a great future. I worked for over 40 years in the downtown area (south Memphis) and ate lunch downtown several times a week.

 

After retirement I do not go downtown as much as I used to. However I went downtown recently on a visit to look at the areas that are now in active dispute, Tom Lee Park and Mud Island. In the interest of full disclosure, I have children who actively participate in the barbecue festival, and they love it.

 

I drove down Poplar and went to the Mud Island parking area over the bridge and around the circle. I noted the huge number of apartments on my left as I drove south to Mud Island. I first saw the structure shown below and wondered what is was. I was later told it was the structure that used to hold the Memphis Belle World War II famous bomber which is now at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio.

http://www.memphisshelbyinform.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/IMG_0363-1.pdf

 

 

Then I drove on to the parking area which had many warning signs that I had to pay to park and I only had to text a number and then enter another number to pay. I eventually just parked and said the hell with it and walked to the entrance to the park.

It was a beautiful day and there were a few kids and parents and no problem with crowds. I was amazed at the beautiful buildings that comprise the park and how much money we have spent on this investment. It is beautiful, unique and totally underutilized. What is the solution?

 

My immediate thought is why not build a parking facility where the Memphis Belle structure is to make visits easier. Provide golf cart type electric vehicles for those who do not want to walk. Put casual eating and drinking facilities along the way with views of the river. For elegant dining reopen the beautiful restaurant that is already there. Repair the tram that I understand is now inoperative. The key is making it easy and fun for people to come and enjoy Mud Island and the river.

 

But there is possibly a problem and that is the split between north and south Memphis. The dividing line is Monroe and Front. In my Father’s Day as he grew up in South Memphis he said it was worth your life to cross Poplar and date a young North Memphis lady. He survived and so will we.

 

After my visit to Mud Island I drove down to Tom Lee Park and noted the wasted investment in the riverboat landing with its red ugly circular spiral and money losing useless restaurant. Surely we can come up with a plan that unites south and north downtown Memphis interests and allows the Barbeque festival and Beale Street interests to prosper and also bring back the large Mud Island investment to its initial bright goals without bankrupting our great City.

What is the difference between a garbage can and a recycle bin?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

What is the difference between a garbage can and a recycle bin?

July 2, 2019

Recently I sent an open records request to the City of Memphis asking them for the following information.

“What is the total poundage of recycle material for the last 3-month period picked up by the City? How much of this has been recycled and how much has gone into the general landfill? How has the recycled material been disposed of?”

About a month later I got a message that the requested information was not available, and my open records request was closed.

Most Memphis and Germantown residents have a garbage can and a recycle bin which is picked up by the cities. But because of international situations and economic factors, recyclable material properly collected is no longer marketable. Therefore, my question is what is happening to the material that has been collected as recycle material?

Most people want to do the right thing and do not want to litter our world and our city with trash. What can be done with our garbage that makes sense?

As for myself I put mostly the following items into my garbage and recycle bins.

  • Soft drink bottles, mineral water and fruit juice containers made from PETE plastic (polyethylene terephthalate)
  • Milk jugs, cleaning agents, laundry detergents, shampoo, washing and shower soap bottles, HDPE plastic (high density polyethylene).
  • Shopping bags, highly resistant sacks and wrappings made from LDPE plastic (low-density polyethylene)
  • There are other plastics such as PP (polypropylene, furniture, luggage toys etc) and such items as nylons and Fiberglas.

The 2 items I see the most of that are not recyclable are PS (polystyrene, carryaway food containers) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride, plastic packaging, bubble foil and food foils to wrap foodstuff). They are light weight, but they take up a lot of space in the garbage can.

What are other cities doing with this recycle problem? Here if some information from a recent article.

 

Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents’ recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy. In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper are sent to a landfill. And last month, officials in the central Florida city of Deltona faced the reality that, despite their best efforts to recycle, their curbside program was not working and suspended it. Those are just three of the hundreds of towns and cities across the country that have canceled recycling programs, limited the types of material they accepted or agreed to huge price increases.

 

What are Memphis and Germantown doing? The citizens in Shelby County need an answer to what is currently going on with our garbage and recycle material as the public wants to help keep our cities beautiful and clean. Does anyone have more information? I would like to know.

Equity-Focused Operations “At What Cost?”

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Equity-Focused Operations “At What Cost?”

 

Ms Tami Sawyer announced that she will be a candidate for Memphis Mayor this year. She is currently a Shelby County commissioner. I wish her luck and she will no doubt be a formidable candidate. But let us look at what she says.

“My administration will be one that is set on equity,” Sawyer said on the podcast. “All of the operations that come out of City Hall will be equity-focused. That’s how you get to that shift. You put leaders in place who share your vision, who believe equity and opportunity are required in all parts of the city.”

Ms Sawyer points out that Mayor Strickland has publicized the jump in city spending with minority- and women-owned businesses from 12 percent to 24 percent since 2016. Despite that increase, Sawyer called the current figures “staggeringly low,” and said that spending should be more closely aligned with Memphis’ demographic makeup.

“What I want to see is a number that’s closer to the 70 percent,” she said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

The only interpretation is that all city and county contracts and spending will not be based on lowest and best price but on the basis of minority and women owned credentials regardless of cost.

I have been calling for some time for a change in City and County purchasing procedures. It is very difficult to bid on city and county purchasing contracts as the paperwork is complex. But what is missing is open access to competitive bids and the cost of minority preferences. We currently do not know what minority preferences are costing taxpayers. We are entitled to know how much extra we are paying for these rules and purchasing ratios. Therefore, the City and County should show on each bid the other bidders on each contract and if the low bidder did not get the contract, we should know why and the cost differential. Also, each contract should display the minority percentage of the contract and what minority received the contract.

I have railed against this minority spending requirement for several years. I am not against economically disadvantaged minorities getting a leg up. However what should be changed is the following. The paperwork and legal qualification rules are very complicated and discourage otherwise qualified firms. There should be a common-sense method such as the better business bureau or other independent organization that gives a rating system based on customer satisfaction reports.

Most importantly the purchasing system should be open and transparent with the final bids and selection on line and open to all. If a minority firm is the low bidder, so be it. If it is not the low bidder and is selected, then the price differential should be no more than 3% to 5% and then the minority firm should be given a one to two-year time to graduate to a no price differential status for future competitive bids. The system now is not transparent, and we do not know what minority spending rules are costing us and we do not know who the beneficiaries are.

What MS Sawyer is proposing is the distribution of taxpayer funds on the basis of race or gender preferences. That always leads to friends of the politicians getting the bulk of the pie without any benefit to the public.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms Tami Sawyer announced that she will be a candidate for Memphis Mayor this year. She is currently a Shelby County commissioner. I wish her luck and she will no doubt be a formidable candidate. But let us look at what she says.

“My administration will be one that is set on equity,” Sawyer said on the podcast. “All of the operations that come out of City Hall will be equity-focused. That’s how you get to that shift. You put leaders in place who share your vision, who believe equity and opportunity are required in all parts of the city.”

Ms Sawyer points out that Mayor Strickland has publicized the jump in city spending with minority- and women-owned businesses from 12 percent to 24 percent since 2016. Despite that increase, Sawyer called the current figures “staggeringly low,” and said that spending should be more closely aligned with Memphis’ demographic makeup.

“What I want to see is a number that’s closer to the 70 percent,” she said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

The only interpretation is that all city and county contracts and spending will not be based on lowest and best price but on the basis of minority and women owned credentials regardless of cost.

I have been calling for some time for a change in City and County purchasing procedures. It is very difficult to bid on city and county purchasing contracts as the paperwork is complex. But what is missing is open access to competitive bids and the cost of minority preferences. We currently do not know what minority preferences are costing taxpayers. We are entitled to know how much extra we are paying for these rules and purchasing ratios. Therefore, the City and County should show on each bid the other bidders on each contract and if the low bidder did not get the contract, we should know why and the cost differential. Also, each contract should display the minority percentage of the contract and what minority received the contract.

I have railed against this minority spending requirement for several years. I am not against economically disadvantaged minorities getting a leg up. However what should be changed is the following. The paperwork and legal qualification rules are very complicated and discourage otherwise qualified firms. There should be a common-sense method such as the better business bureau or other independent organization that gives a rating system based on customer satisfaction reports.

Most importantly the purchasing system should be open and transparent with the final bids and selection on line and open to all. If a minority firm is the low bidder, so be it. If it is not the low bidder and is selected, then the price differential should be no more than 3% to 5% and then the minority firm should be given a one to two-year time to graduate to a no price differential status for future competitive bids. The system now is not transparent, and we do not know what minority spending rules are costing us and we do not know who the beneficiaries are.

What MS Sawyer is proposing is the distribution of taxpayer funds on the basis of race or gender preferences. That always leads to friends of the politicians getting the bulk of the pie without any benefit to the public.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Effects Of The Green New Deal

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

March 6, 2019

 

High Speed Trip-Memphis to New Orleans By Rail and Bus

 

A Memphis friend of mine is taking a trip to New Orleans tomorrow. Rather than fly, he wanted to go by rail from Memphis. He bought the ticket and then found out that due to heavy rains recently, part of the rail line in Louisiana was closed due to high water. Amtrak decided that they will take him to Jackson Mississippi by train and then by hired bus to New Orleans. Another wasted money project involves Illinois and the high/low speed train corridor from Chicago to St. Louis. Work on Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis route will cost $2 billion and will offer a top speed of just 110 mph and shave only an hour off the trip.

This made me reflect on several things proposed by the Green New Deal which is being offered by quite a few 2020 presential candidates. As part of the Green New Deal, air travel would be discontinued to save the planet by eliminating the carbon pollution of airplanes. Mule trains would also be eliminated due to pollution by mules.

Nationally, you only must look at California to see the effects of this kind of thinking. The Trump administration says it intends to cancel a $929 million federal grant for California’s high-speed rail project. The administration also wants to reclaim another $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent by California on the project.

The Department of Transportation is accusing California officials of missing several deadlines tied to the $929 million appropriation for the state’s high-speed rail line.

In his state of the state address last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, proposed to scale back the project and focus on completing a link in the Central Valley between Bakersfield and Merced rather than between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Merced will be able to speed up delivery of almonds, pistachios and strawberries to Bakersfield.

Locally, I would like to see something that would be less costly and offer more benefits. Think about the Poplar and Park corridors and how many times you have been held up by low speed infinitely long freight trains. Also include the dangerous Poplar Pike road in Germantown which the rail line crosses several times. The only way around these freight train delays is the Ridgeway Road under pass between Poplar and Park. Driving from central Memphis to East Memphis and Germantown I always think of alternate routes to avoid possible long and slow freight trains. As a result I drive many extra miles from central Memphis to my destination.

Surely several more under or overpasses would come in under the billions spent on the worthless California high speed train boondoggle or the Illinois creepy train plan.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

VOTE TAMPERING, LOCAL AND NATIONWIDE

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

January 23, 2019

 

Here is the reason the Democratic party is refusing to stop illegal immigration. It is because they want individuals who are not citizens or even people that do not exist to vote in federal elections. A recent article pointed out voting patterns in California during the 2018 November elections. Look at what they did and the changes in voting procedure that they instituted in California.

In the November 2018 election Republican candidates went to bed on election night in November with leads in most of their competitive House races, only to lose in the ensuing weeks of vote counting. In Orange County, Young Kim was poised to become the first Korean-American woman in Congress, with a sizable lead on Election Day over her Democratic opponent. She lost by three percentage points. Republican Rep. Mimi Walters’s 6,074-vote lead on Nov. 6 turned into an 11,866-vote loss to Democrat Katie Porter.

How did this happen?

The project started in 2015 when California became the second state after Oregon to move to automatic voter registration.

Can’t be bothered to register? California does it for you, automatically adding to its rolls any person who has any interaction with its Department of Motor Vehicles. The system is already a threat to ballot integrity, with the DMV acknowledging in September it had incorrectly registered 23,000 voters.

In 2016 California passed the Voter’s Choice Act, which allows counties to mail every voter a ballot. Lots of Californians use mail voting, though previously they had to request it. Now ballots arrive automatically, whether voters want one or not. Thirteen million California voters received ballots in the mail last year, compared to about nine million in 2014.

The biggest score for Democrats is a separate 2016 California law pushed heavily by unions that legalized what’s known as ballot harvesting. This allows any person—union activists, canvassers, community organizers, campaign staff—to show up at homes and collect mail ballots on behalf of voters.

California law also allows counting mail ballots postmarked or delivered on Election Day, as well as same-day registration and liberal use of provisional ballots. This year the Democratic vote totals piled up long after the polls closed. Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Orange County GOP, has estimated that an extraordinary 250,000 mail-votes were dropped off on Election Day thanks to harvesting.

This creates opportunities for harvesters to “help” voters complete their ballots, or even pay to finish them, and it’s easy for the unscrupulous to lose ballots they think may go for the wrong candidate. Therefore ballot harvesting is illegal in many states, or at least limited to drop-offs by family members.

Nationally Democrats want states to allow same-day and online voter registration. They want looser rules on provisional ballots, requires every state to provide two weeks of early voting, prohibits restrictions on mail voting, and limits states’ ability to remove voters from rolls.

All this is an affront to the American tradition of letting states set their own election rules. Few states have automatic registration, on the principle that voting is voluntary.

Here is what the law is in Tennessee.

TN does not have automatic voter registration. One must register 30 days before Election Day. This enables officials to verify the information provided such as SS#, felon? Address, etc. First-time Tennessee voters must provide proof of citizenship, either a birth certificate or naturalization papers even if they have been registered in another state.

 

DMV provides the opportunity for those applying for a driver’s license to request registration, however, a form must be filled out and mailed to officials for verification, just like any other kind of registration.

 

To obtain an absentee ballot in Tennessee, one must be a registered voter in the district for which a ballot is requested. The request for an absentee ballot is checked against the registration lists, if the requester is registered, a ballot is mailed with a unique number on the return envelope. If that unique number is not there, altered, etc. when the ballot is returned, (all are verified) the ballot is not opened and further investigation is undertaken. Absentee ballots must arrive by the close of business on Election Day and must arrive by public carrier: USPS, Fed Ex etc.

 

In Tennessee, Provisional Ballots are provided if the person cannot be verified in the system; or does not show a Federal/TN state government photo ID. They are given 2 days to return with that photo ID (if that was the problem). Research is done If they are not in the system and they insist they registered. Some may have registered through the state and the State failed to notify the local officials. Research will let officials know – if it is found that they did timely register, their provisional ballot is counted. Otherwise, without verification that they did indeed register as they claim but do not have that photo ID, that ballot is never opened and kept in a separate holding place for 24 months. A few years back, some people would demand a provisional ballot thinking officials would not know if they were registered, that doesn’t happen as often now because they know officials verify information.

 

There is on-line registration, if that person has a TN driver’s license with signature, however, they still must vote in person the first time and show that photo ID to officials. Driver’s licenses now have a unique code on the back.

 

Tennessee does have early voting. It begins 20 days before ED and ends 5 days before ED for a total of 14 early voting days. That helps tremendously with personnel and voters. The requirements are the same for early voting or Election Day voting except on ED one can only vote in one’s precinct.

 

Now here is what happened locally last November 2018 in the election.

 

TN Black Voter Project registered thousands of voters in Shelby County and turned in 10,000 applications on the very last day of registration in Shelby County.

Since 84% of qualified voters in Shelby County are already registered, an immediate question is who those people on all those applications were! Some were felons and some were already registered, and a lot appeared to be fiction.

 

Black Voter Project (BVP) deliberately waited to turn those last registrations to cause problems for the Shelby County Election Commission. Those applications had to be processed and researched. The staff and all temps available were tied up in that process with all-hands-on-deck, three shifts per day and weekends to try to complete the process before election day.

 

Required information on many of applications was missing. Duplicate registrations were turned in for the same person with one digit different in a SS# or street address or no-such street existed etc. The local, judge Joedae Jenkins ordered that those registrants could machine vote. Attorneys appealed to state court and the ruling was overturned. Anyone with missing  could “repair” the application – however, only a handful of people did that and none showed up to try to vote on election day.

 

When addresses were on the registrations, verification letters were sent to the Black Voter Project applicants or telephoned when a phone number was provided to try to obtain missing info.  A vast number of mailed inquiry letters were returned by the PO as undeliverable and many telephone numbers were not valid. More than three letter boxes overflowed with those returned letters. It cost the commission time and money to send those letters and make those calls to non-existing people.

Turns out BVD paid $90/day for workers to register voters, but they only required 15 applications to earn the money.  Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating but no report so far on results. BVP also did something similar in Knox county and Davidson county, but not on the scale they did here. A good question is who financed that operation? What do you think? I would like your opinion on the local and national voting situation for 2020 and its connection with open borders

 

 

 

 

Recycle Standards-Memphis and Germantown

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

01/15/2019

I was all set to publish an informative article about how to distinguish between those items that are recyclable and those which go into the trash and landfill. I then read the article about China no longer buying our recyclable items and the effects of that decision. Then the City of Memphis announced that its recycle contract with Republic Services is in question because Republic wants to to charge Memphis for taking recyclable materials rather than pay Memphis something. Germantown pays about $62 per ton for their materials. The whole recycle question is no longer a holier than thou virtue, it has becomes “how much you are willing to pay at the CHURCH OF RECYCLE VIRTUE”. We must have a public discussion about this subject and see if we can come to a solution that we can afford and still pay homage to our desire for a clean and waste free world. There is a question that I ask. “Is our recyclable material really being recycled or is it going into the general landfill? I really don’t know.

BELOW IS MY POST THAT I INTENDED TO PUBLISH BEFORE I BECAME AWARE OF THE CITY OF MEMPHIS SITUATION.

Following is the City of Memphis reply to my open records request asking them to compare their recycle policy to the City of Germantown.

 

Dear Joe Saino,

 

The City received a public records request from you on 12/29/2018. Your request mentioned “The following is the City of Germantown standards for recycling. Does the City of Memphis agree with this standard and if not what are the differences with the standard and additions, deletions or corrections.

Germantown stated: The following items can be recycled:
Due to the collection process, all recycling materials must be placed inside the roll cart. Any materials outside of the cart will be collected as household trash.

Mixed paper products: newspaper, magazines, brochures, paper bags, paper towel rolls, paper back books, cartons, greeting cards, regular and junk mail, cardboard beverage carriers, phone books, office paper, catalogs, paperboard boxes and file folders.
Corrugated cardboard containers, flattened and cut to no more than 3 feet by 2 feet
Non-corrugated cardboard commonly used in dry food and cereal boxes, shoe boxes and other similar packaging
Glass bottles and jars – no lids (empty and rinse)
#1, #2, #4, #5 and #7 plastic food and beverage containers –including bottles, jars, jugs and other rigid plastic containers.
PETE, HDPE, PVC, LDPE and PP
Aluminum and metal food cans without lids
Aluminum beverage cans (empty and rinse)
Foil and foil trays clean of food
Empty juice boxes, soup and milk cartons (empty and replace cap)
Large Cardboard Containers
The City has a cardboard recycling container located at Economic and Community Development, 1920 South Germantown Road, available for all city residents to recycle large cardboard. All cardboard must be flattened.

The following items cannot be recycled:

#3 and #6 plastics – including plastic bags, plastic film, tubs and pots
Foam egg cartons
Styrofoam
Food or liquid (no garbage)
Clothing or linens
Tanglers, hoses, chains, electronics or batteries
Big items (wood, plastic, furniture or metal)
Some items not collected for recycling by the City can be recycled at these convenient area locations:

Plastic grocery bags – A majority of local grocery store locations
Printer cartridges – Office Depot locations, receive a credit on a future purchase; cartridges refilled at local Walgreens locations
Batteries, including car, cell phone, camcorder and rechargeable batteries – Batteries Plus, 465 North Germantown Parkway
Cell phones – AT&T locations, at Verizon locations or visit Verizon online recycling program or visit cellphonesforsoldiers.com
IPods – Apple Store, Saddle Creek
Used motor oil – Germantown Public Works Complex, 7700 Southern Avenue
Clothing, furniture and household items – Non-profit agencies or garage sale
Wire hangers – Some dry cleaners accept used hangers for reuse
Used electronics can be taken to the semiannual Amnesty Dumpster and Recycling Day”

 

Here is the City of Memphis reply.

The City has reviewed its files and has located responsive records to your request. Per the custodian: The City of Memphis’ recycling program includes all plastics except plastic films and bags and Styrofoam (which includes the black food containers at Trezevant Manor and the egg cartons which are “foam” (Styrofoam) products). We even accept plastic outdoor patio chairs, “all plastic” constructed toys. The plastic containers used at the salad bar at Trezevant are recyclable, but must be rinsed to remove any food residue.

We accept aluminum and steel cans; aluminum foil and the associated foil cooking containers; all paper that are not food tainted; glass bottles and jars (no lids); plastic bottles and jars with lids attached; and aseptic  juice, milk, soup, and vegetable cartons (found at stores like Whole Foods).

If Mr. Saino follows the Germantown rules he will be in compliance with our regulations, however, we do accept more items than Germantown.

These two standards seem to answer most questions. It seems that #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) [trays for sweets, fruit, plastic packing (bubble foil and food foils to wrap the foodstuff] and #6 (polystyrene) [toys, hard packing, refrigerator trays, cosmetic bags, costume jewelry, CD cases, vending cups] are the main common items that cannot be recycled.

If you disagree with the above, I would love to hear from you with examples. It does take some work and thought to work towards a future where we try to recycle as much as possible.

 

The Inconvenient World Of Convenience

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

December 17, 2018

The Inconvenient world of convenience

 

This is a follow up to my post “Plastic Bag Tax” on my website, www.memphisshelbyinform.com.

 

I consider myself to be a typical American, used to convenience in almost everything. I buy plastic water bottles rather than carry around a heavier metal insulated container. I buy plastic soft drink bottles, plastic yogurt containers, plastic throw away food containers. Am I a bad person? I will leave that question to my wife and children.

 

Basically, I consider that I am woefully uninformed about recycling. So, I started digging for information about the whole area of what happens when I throw those bottles, containers and other items into my garbage pail.

 

I started at my computer to see what information was available. The main points that I discovered was as follows.

 

  • The use of plastics in packaging has undergone a revolution. These very smart chemical scientists have taken petrochemicals and transformed them into various chemical stocks such as POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE, HIGH-DENSITY POLYETHYLENE, POLYVINYL CHLORIDE, LOW-DENSITY POLYETHLENE, POLYPROPYLENE, POLYSTYRENE, AND OTHER PLACTICS INCLUDING ACRYLICS, POLYCARBONATE, POLYACTIC FIBERS, NYLON AND FIBERGLAS. OUCH!! No wonder I hated chemistry in school.
  • China used to take most of our recycled products but in January of this year they stopped accepting recyclables from many countries.
  • Locally the City of Memphis is in a time of transformation as are other local municipalities like Germantown. Where recyclables used to pay for itself, it now appears we will have to pay more in the future.

 

Therefore, my job now is to educate myself as to what is recyclable and what is not and what can I do to help solve or mitigate the problem.  First job is to identify items. The following chart is basic to all the chemicals mentioned above.

 

 

I asked the City of Memphis thru an open records request the following.

“I would like information on which of these 7 symbols which appear on a lot of products you will accept for recycling here in Memphis. Also, if you have other suggestions or standards for identification of acceptable products symbols, I would like to have them by email return.”

Here is their answer.

The City has reviewed its files and has located responsive records to your request. Per the custodian, size does matter. Straws, plastic picnic utensils, and pill bottles are too small to be sorted accurately. Also – recycling needs to be clean. If plastic plates have lingering food debris attached, then they can actually contaminate the load. The plastic items we collect must just be all plastic. If they contain metal parts or electronic panels then they are not recyclable. To easily identify plastics we accept, visit memphisrecycles.com or check the top of your City of Memphis gray recycling cart. You will find a complete list of the plastics, paper, metals, glass and cartons you can recycle in Memphis. Thank you for participating in our curbside recycling program. 

This answer seems to address most items I come across in my daily life. The plastic bags that are at checkout at Kroger and some other stores still is the object of a possible charge before the City Council. Under the plan, consumers would pay 7 cents for each plastic bag they use to carry their purchases from Memphis retailers sized 2,000 square feet or greater. The Memphis bag tax proposal would funnel 2 cents to the grocers as a handling fee, while the city would pull in the other 5 cents per bag. People age 65 and older, and those who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or other public assistance, would be exempt city councilman Boyd said.

 

What did I learn? The City is doing the right thing and seems to be on top of the huge problem of our throwaway society. Of the seven chasing arrow symbols it seems that #6 (POLYSTYRENE) is a big problem and cannot currently be recycled without a lot more research. #3 (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE) and #4 (LOW DENSITY POLYETHLENE) are also questionable. I have found that many items do not have the 1 thru 7 symbols. You  have to use some judgement.

There is a lot of research going on in this are and here is an recent article that you might find interesting. Possibly the wonderful world of chemistry will solve this problem.

 

I would love to hear from you on your experience in this throwaway society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Bag Tax-Are You For It? Is It Necessary? Will It Solve The Plastic Pollution Problem?

Monday, November 26th, 2018

November 26, 2018

 

Plastic Bag Tax-Are You For It? Is It Necessary? Will It Solve The Plastic Pollution Problem?

This proposal caught my attendance and is something that has been on my mind for some time. When I go to my local Kroger store, I always use the plastic bags to my shame. I could easily use my large canvas bag instead, but I don’t.

Under the plan, consumers would pay 7 cents for each plastic bag they use to carry their purchases from Memphis retailers sized 2,000 square feet or greater.

“This isn’t about revenue to the city of Memphis, this is about sustainability and protecting our waterways,” City Council chairman Berlin Boyd said Tuesday, pitching the plastic bag tax during the council’s public works, transportation and general services committee.

The Memphis bag tax proposal would funnel 2 cents to the grocers as a handling fee, while the city would pull in the other 5 cents per bag. People age 65 and older, and those who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or other public assistance, would be exempt, Boyd said.

Then I did some research and here is an article that I think frames the great problem of plastic pollution. Read it for background info.

 

Here are some pictures I took at my local Kroger store in the last few days.

customer with plastic water bottles

 

rows after row of plastic soda bottles

 

 

stacks of plastic water bottles

 

 

It I obvious that the problem is more than just the plastic bags at grocery store checkout. However the proposal for a 7 cent tax on each plastic bag is a good start. The only thing that seems to work is a financial stimulus to get the public’s attention.

 

The real solution to the plastic container problem is inventing a material that can do the job that the present materials do but with the medium- and long-term characteristic of being able to dissolve into the earth with no harmful effects. Otherwise we will have to depend on financial incentives to make the public help us KEEP MEMPHIS BEAUTIFUL.

 

If any reader has thoughts on this subject, I would certainly love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

Amazon and Nashville/Memphis

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Now that the election is over, let us get back to important things like comparing Memphis/Shelby County to Nashville/Davidson County.

We have the news that Nashville is getting a piece of the Amazon pie, 5000 high paying jobs. It comes at a high taxpayer price but is probably worth it. Why Nashville and not Memphis?

Comparing Nashville to Memphis has been a project for me for some time. It is not easy to go through all the published financial data and come up with understandable comparison data. However, let us start with a few facts.

Population: Shelby County: 936,961, Davidson County: 691,243

Population of the core city: Memphis 653,236, Nashville 444,297

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Area: Shelby County: 755 sq. miles, Davidson County: 525 sq. miles

Area of the core city: Memphis, 324 sq. miles, Urban Nashville, 198 sq. miles, general service area 327 sq. miles for a total of 525 square miles.

Conclusion: population density of core city Memphis 2016/sq. mile

Population of core city Nashville 2243/sq. mile

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Property tax revenue: Memphis $458,671,000, Shelby County $793,849,000 for a total of $1,252,520,000 or 1.25 billion.

Property taxes, Nashville Metro, $971,643,000.

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Budget of Memphis and Shelby County $1.88 billion.

Budget of Metro Nashville $2.23 billion.

Budget expenditures per resident Memphis and Shelby County $2006

Budget expenditure per resident of Metro Davidson $3226

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Debt service as a % of operating expenditures

Metro Nashville                  9%

Memphis                               20%

Shelby County                     21.45%

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Memphis pension liability 2018- $2.68 billion 89.6% funding ratio

Shelby County pension liability 2017- $1.2 billion 71% funding ratio

Nashville Metro pension liability 2017- 3.08 billion 95.4% funded

 

Memphis OPEB liability 2018 $334 million, 0.8% funded

Shelby County OPEB liability 2017 $232 million 83.3% funded

Nashville Metro OPEB liability $2.33 billion, zero % funded

Typical Winter utility bill

Memphis- $244.10

Nashville- $375.65

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The Statement of Net Position presents information on all the Government’s assets, deferred outflows of resources, liabilities, and deferred inflows of resources, with the difference reported as net position. Over time, increases or decreases in net position may serve as a useful indicator of whether the financial position of the Government is improving or deteriorating.

 

Metro Nashville net position decreased by $266 million for the year ending 2017.

Memphis net position decreases by $58 million for the year ending 2017.

Shelby County net position increased by $86 million for the year ending 2017

 

If you have additional financial comparison information or disagree with any of the above information, please let me know.

 

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I think Memphis is a great city, beautiful trees, weather is consistently great, wonderful  people and compared to Nashville, a low cost of living. What is the difference?

 

EDUCATION AND TRAINED WORK FORCE.

 

We are told that these 5000 jobs Amazon will bring to Nashville have an average salary of $150,000/year. These are jobs that require high tech skills in management, engineering, computer science and programming. It is a pleasure to go to the Amazon website as its ease of use is outstanding and much better than its competitors.

 

However, Amazon’s main business is selling things made by others and getting those things to you fast and at a low cost.

 

Memphis needs to compete in the area of technical job training and skills that are needed in the next few years in manufacturing, health care, auto and aircraft maintenance, warehousing and transportation. Our new governor has promised to continue free junior college training (Tennessee Promise) and hopefully he will allow qualified non-profits like our local Moore Tech College to participate in the Tennessee Promise program.

 

Our local shortage of trained people needed by companies like Amazon will not be solved in a few years but while we upgrade our primary grade education, we need to emphasize trade school education to upgrade our local working wage level and reduce our comparative high poverty level.

 

I would appreciate your thoughts on what we can do to help Memphis to reach the next level of prosperity. Memphis is great, but we can make it grow and prosper with the right education policies. EDUCATION IS THE ANSWER.