November 24, 2017

Are your “broken windows” the government’s business?

broken-windowIn August, 2016, we discussed the idea of “broken windows” contributing to overall decline in civil society. Basically, the “broken windows” concept is that if little issues are ignored they will lead to big issues. “Broken windows” became well known as a policing concept applied in New York City.

In our previous discussion, Eddie Settles and Ken Welch basically endorsed the “broken windows’ concept and, therefore, fell in the camp of believing little violations of civility should be addressed before they grow into major problems.

After the discussion, Ken Welch recalled past conversations with others about private property, what rights people had to use and maintain their own property as they saw fit, whether residential or commercial property, so long as the property or its use did not directly, physically, infringe on another person’s property or public property. He found he was conflicted.

So in this conversation, we revisit the “broken windows” concept of government oversight of property uses/condition, discussing the rights of private property owners. We further delve into the public laws generally as they affect behavior and the logic society may apply in both legal and personal relations.

Duration: 33 minutes, 3 seconds

October 10, 2016

Is Extending the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Worthwhile?

In Tennessee, juvenile courts have original, exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving mjuvenile-court-gavel-medinors. A minor is anyone under the age of 18, however, state law gives juvenile courts jurisdiction to to age 19 for someone who has come under its jurisdiction as a minor under age 18. Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan H. Michael is proposing to the Tennessee General Assembly that Juvenile Courts retain jurisdiction of a minor with a case in juvenile court until that person turns 25 years old, adding six years to the court’s oversight of a young offender. Judge Michael has asked the Shelby County Commission to support his proposal.
A Memphis Conversation examines the proposal to extend juvenile court’s jurisdiction, considers possible motivations for the idea, and ponders the ramifications of such a change in the law.
Before you begin to listen, we have a few updates, clarifications, and corrections.
– During this discussion, we refer to the proposal to permit juvenile court to maintain jurisdiction over an offender through age 25 to age 26. It appears the proposal is for the juvenile court to have jurisdiction until age 25, a difference which does not affect the comments expressed here.
– A reference is made to the Memphis City Council having before it for consideration an ordinance permitting the local police to issue a summons on an ordinance violation rather than charging the individual with the state law violation if a person is being cited for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The ordinance has since been passed by the council, however, the correct amount applicable under the new city ordinance is one-half ounce.
– We talk about the “age of consent” under Tennessee law as it applies to a person’s capability in making decisions in sexual relations and how that might relate to the maturity of the brain. Tennessee law on statutory rape is complex and what constitutes statutory rape and/or the punishment for such a crime varies according to the age of the younger person involved and the age difference between that person and the older person involved.
– Reference is made to a homicide of a member of San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 and that the perpetrator of the crime was acquitted based on what has become called the Twinkie defense (a mental state purported to be the result of eating the sweet cakes known as Twinkies). It is true the defendant was acquitted of a first degree murder charge but he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter of two victims.

Duration: 41 minutes, 36 seconds

August 25, 2016

Broken Windows, Broken Laws, Broken Society

civil-law-civil-society-collageIt does not take long on the streets of Memphis to see someone commit a civil violation. In fact, in just a few minutes one is likely to see a multitude of violations. Automobile drivers speeding, property owners failing to meet the requirements imposed by building and property codes, littering, and more. Are these minor issues without much consequence? Or are they a gateway or invitation to more serious violations, including criminal behavior? Are “minor” violations of civil rules a detriment a civil society. That is the topic of this edition of A Memphis Conversation.

Duration: 15 minutes, 8 seconds

March 6, 2016

Is poverty the business of Memphis?

Once again A Memphis Conversation considers leadership in our community, not just by politpoverty-rate-memphisicians and governmental institutions, but non-profit agencies and other people and entities that are in a position to provide leadership. Many identify poverty as the primary problem in Memphis. In this discussion, it is suggested that those in poverty may be pawns of others who use them for political power and financial gain. Furthermore, that given the governmental and private financial resources devoted to the issue of poverty, that it could be the main business of Memphis, a business which some may wish to sustain for their own benefit. The question is raised as to which type of organization may be in the best position to truly address the problem of poverty in our city and are those in top positions in those organizations the ones who should continue in those roles.

Those involved in A Memphis Conversation find our talks both informative, useful, and enjoyable. We think it is important that our community discusses matters that matter, invite you to listen to our conversation, and encourage you to participate in civil discussion with those you know.

Duration: 55 minutes, 53 seconds

February 13, 2016

Who do you trust?

About 55 years ago there was a popular television show entitled “Who do you trust?”  (Hosted by Johnny Carson for several seasons and he was joined by Ed McMahon, both later famous for their hosting duties on NBC’s Tonight Show.)

The question may be appropriate, without the humor, today.

The PBS News Hour aired an “essay” by Jeff Greenfield on February 5, 2016, in which he suggests there is a lack of trust in most institutions in the United States and asking how can a nation thrive without trust.

View Greenfield’s essay and/or read the transcript at

In this edition of A Memphis Conversation, Eddie Settles and Ken Welch discuss the issue of trust and its importance between individuals, between the electorate and the elected locally and nationally, how to build trust and how to restore trust when it has been lost. We invite you to listen and engage in your own conversations with those in your circle of acquaintances about this and other matters that matter.

Length: 31 minutes, 47 seconds

November 11, 2015

It’s YOUR conversation that counts!

It’s been a while since we’ve posted A Memphis Conversation. One of our conversationalists has moved out of town but the other two featured participants have met a couple of times and talked about public policy issues. We got to talking and time ran out to record, so there are no podcasts of those conversations. But what really matters is your taking up public policy matters that matter with those with whom you interact. Seek to inform yourself and continue the process by discussing issues with others. We hope to share another Memphis conversation soon but in the meantime, engage in your own!

February 1, 2015

Over Protected Children

Are today’s U.S. American children being over protected, by parents, by government? Is the degree of protection being afforded kids helpful or hurtful to their development into responsible adults? Whose business is it to oversee the raising of children? These are some of the issues discussed by Darrell Hugueley, Eddie Settles, and Ken Welch in this edition of A Memphis Conversation. If you listen all the way to the end, we want to assure you no animals were harmed in the recording session!

Duration: 1 hour, 3 minutes

December 31, 2014

Part 2: A $15/hour Minimum Wage?

PART 2:  The conversation which began focused on minimum wage issues continued, with the discussion becoming much broader in scope including is the public thoughtfully engaged in important issues, is the public library serving to promote well read and well informed citizens, what is the role of the Internet in research and information, and much more. As always, we appreciate your listening to our conversation, but yours is more important! Discuss these issues with your family, friends, acquaintances, and legislators.

Length: 42 minutes, 25 seconds

December 21, 2014

A $15/hour Minimum Wage?

PART 1:  Whether to raise the minimum wage required by law in the USA has, once again, become a topic of controversy with a number of employees of fast food restaurants staging protests demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage. One such worker wrote to The Commercial Appeal to outline her reasons she thought the minimum wage should be increased to $15. A high school class examined her arguments as we do along with other considerations in this Memphis Conversation. (Part 2 is below the audio link to Part 1.)

Length: 36 minutes, 49 seconds

PART 2 is the continuation of this conversation and is posted on this site.

August 30, 2014

Revolting Civic Culture? Major Tax Hike in 2016?

tax-bill-header-300Will there be a very large property tax increase in Memphis in 2016? That’s the question that kicked off this edition of A Memphis Conversation.  Some city council members have predicted that possibility for the year after city elections primarily because of the contributions the city will be required to make toward pensions for retired city employees. Memphians, who pay both city and county property taxes, already have the highest property tax obligations in the state by far. Memphis city finances involve very complex choices and this broad ranging conversation reflects that. This discussion between Eddie Settles and Ken Welch touches on the pension debate, past city government integrity, city employee unions leadership, and a number of other issues.

Length: 1 hour, 21 minutes, 27 secnds