The police officer who was hit as he was directing traffic last night is in critical condition today. The C-Y Festival was such a success, yet this tragic ending makes me all the more energized to work to re-open our closed park adjacent to Cooper-Young. There is simply no need to endanger people's lives by having a congested street fair in one of the busiest areas of Midtown when a ready venue sits unused three blocks away: the park at the Fairgrounds -- fenced, locked, and closed now for going on three years.
Today's forum at Idlewild school was well-attended, and I was glad that I brought some color photos of the Grand Carousel for the children to see. The candidates attending brought interesting (and sometimes unintentionally amusing) viewpoints to the discussion of what should be done about Memphis's steady decline. I was amazed to find that Barbara Swearengen Holt-Ware agreed with my call for an end to the Mayor's "sole contractual authority" -- I have often thought over the past two years that she did not like any of my ideas. Hope is alive, after all.
Perhaps the most stunning moment (actually, it felt like time stood still) came when an Idlewild student (he appeared to be a 6th-grader) asked candidate Kemp Conrad a question about how kids can make a difference in the world. Mr. Conrad froze and stood with the microphone in his hand for what seemed like a long, silent time. Then he tossed the question back at the young man, but the time allotted was up.
Moments like these make me realize the importance of fighting for quality-of-life for Memphis's young people -- truly the disenfranchised victims of our city's petty politics. When a city's vision degrades to the point that stealing candy from a baby becomes the modus operandi, a severe course correction is in order.
Another telling moment came when I asked district 5 candidate Bob Schreiber if he thought it was unfair for an arbitrary deadline to have kept our fellow opponent Richard Parks from participating in the forum. I consider Mr. Parks to be an "Atticus Finch"-style lawyer and it seemed mean to bar him from speaking.
"That's what deadlines are all about," Mr. Schreiber harrumphed.
Whatever. I still would have appreciated hearing Mr. Parks' ideas. Compassion is a dying artform these days.
Finally, I asked Mr. Strickland if, since the Commercial Appeal is endorsing him, and he has more money than God (well I didn't put it quite in those terms) would he still consider all the many reasons to re-open our closed Fairgrounds park if he wins the election?
He said yes, but seemed annoyed: "Didn't you already ask me that once before?" (I did, several months ago.)
"Just checking," I said.