Weekly Update: On Penny, Pre-K, and adopting your block


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As a Tiger basketball fan dating to the 1970s, few players have been as exciting for me to watch as Penny Hardaway. And as a local high school basketball fan, I’ve come to enjoy the work Penny did at East High.

So yes, before we get started with the serious stuff in this week’s email, you should know that I’m just as excited as you are that Penny Hardaway is our new coach! I can feel the excitement everywhere I go across the city, and I’m looking forward to this new era in Hoop City.

How we’re able to make Pre-K happen: In case you missed it, we recently announced a plan for the City of Memphis to fund Pre-Kindergarten. (Photo below.) We think it’s the first meaningful step toward fully funding needs-based universal Pre-K across our city, and I’m grateful for everyone’s help to get this plan to fruition — particularly our City Council members and sponsors Kemp Conrad and Patrice Robinson.

Pre-K Announcement

By now, I’m not sure there’s much left to say to prove the worth of Pre-K. The more we can help our kids early in life to get them reading at a third grade level in third grade, the more we all benefit.

But I am particularly proud of how we got this done, and what it says about how we run City government. I’ll share in more detail soon, but the point is this: We can afford this creative solution to fund Pre-K without a tax increase because we’re running a government that's more fiscally sound and more efficient. Period.

Being “brilliant at the basics” of running City government isn’t just about the basics. It’s about doing those items well and efficiently so we have the ability to do life-changing initiatives like this one.

A busy Saturday: Tomorrow morning at 10, I’ll be with the Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association to launch our Adopt-A-Block program. You’ll remember this being part of our 2017 Call to Action, and it launched last year on a limited basis.

We’re ready to widen the scope this year. You’ll have the opportunity to invest in your neighborhood by adopting two blocks for a one-year period and committing to quarterly clean-up events each year. Look for more info and how to get involved in the coming days on our social media presences (Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor), at memphistn.gov, and in next week’s email.

Be aware: As MATA continues its work to bring back the trolleys on Main Street, we’re asking for your help. When you’re walking down Main Street, please be aware that there are trolleys currently doing training and testing runs and please avoid walking on or near the tracks or in between the cars. Trolley operators will be using their bells and horns to help alert you to their presence, particularly at intersections and blind spots. Safety is priority No. 1 for the trolleys’ re-launch, and we appreciate your cooperation toward that goal.

Speaking of neighborhoods: Strong neighborhoods like VECA are the backbone of our city. If you’re a new neighborhood leader or want information on how to start your own neighborhood group, we’re here to help. Find out more about our certified neighborhood leader program here.

Speaking of neighborhoods, again: For years, the old church at 1577 Dellwood in Frayser was a blighted, vacant eyesore. This neighborhood deserved better.

So this week, we tore it down. (See below.) A city with less blight is a cleaner, safer city for which we should all strive.

Frayser Blight Demo


Welcome, New York Times: Each Sunday, the Travel section of The New York Times highlights places across the globe for a feature it calls “36 Hours.” This Sunday, The Times highlights Memphis — and the article has already posted online.

For all the time that we (understandably) spend tackling the details of how to move our city forward, it’s refreshing to see the outside attention on so many of the places that represent the unique spot Memphis occupies on the world stage. I tell people all the time: Memphis is a city that’s changed the world and continues to change it.

I’m glad to see The Times here to share the good story of Memphis.

Speaking of changing the world: Our 1968 sanitation workers changed the world because of their brave and courageous stand for human dignity. I’m proud that we’ll be honoring them tomorrow night at a dinner at the Cook Convention Center, and I encourage you to continue to reflect on their courage throughout this MLK50 season in our city.

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