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Tennessee editorial roundup

June 13, 2018

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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June 13

Cleveland Daily Banner on the perception of a longtime mayor endorsing a state lawmaker to replace him:

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland’s guest “Viewpoint” published in last Sunday’s edition of this newspaper served as a reminder of what we already know: Tennessee’s longest-serving mayor loves our community and he is a staunch believer in the ability of State Rep. Kevin Brooks to lead it.

While the Cleveland Daily Banner was happy to give our city’s leader this Opinion page placement in order to contest a prior editorial we published about the mayoral race, we are concerned he missed our point.

Although the mayor believes we were critical of his endorsement of Brooks to become his City Hall successor, that was not our intent. Our message was a plea for him not to get directly — or indirectly — involved, and to remember public perception in his approach to his close friend’s candidacy.

Certainly, Rowland has the right to endorse whomever he chooses. And he did. But it was how he did it that disturbs us.

We are reminded of the familiar adage, “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” The same principal holds just as true with a similar thought: “It’s not what you do. It’s how you do it.”

When Rowland and Brooks hosted a joint press conference in early January, it carried this three-pronged message: One, Rowland announced he would end a 27-year tenure as Cleveland mayor by not seeking re-election; two, in stepping down as mayor, Rowland endorsed the candidacy of Brooks; and three, Brooks announced he would not seek re-election to the Tennessee Legislature and would instead seek to become Cleveland’s next mayor.

Since that ceremony held at the Museum Center at Five Points, words like “coronation” and “anointing” have been tossed about in our community in conversation and in print to describe the event’s tone. Our newspaper has been among those to use them.

Here’s why: In our opinion, public perception saw the event as a handing over of the gavel. And it’s not just us saying it. It is others.

It has been said that hindsight is 20/20. In this case, we believe that to be true. In order to avoid the perception of collaboration between the existing mayor and the mayoral candidate, it would have been wiser for Rowland to announce his decision not to seek re-election in one announcement, for Brooks to announce his decision to seek the mayoral post in a separate event, and for Rowland to endorse Brooks’ candidacy in a third announcement.

Following such protocol would have been more time-consuming, but it might have helped to avoid any air of suspicion.

In two editorials — dated Jan. 10 and June 3 — we have tried to make this point. We have also cautioned it appears the mayor is getting too personally involved in the two-man race between Brooks and retired educator Duane Schriver by helping Brooks to secure public appearances that would increase his exposure.

Rowland adamantly denies it, except for one incident. Recent public events would suggest otherwise.

Another point of concern about the mayor’s “Viewpoint” is his apparent confusion about information attributed to our editorial and that which came from candidate Schriver.

In one instance, the editorial quoted a statement made by Schriver in an earlier front-page news story in this newspaper dated May 20: “The anointing process was not a positive thing. When the mayor (implied) ‘I’m not running and now here is my replacement,’ that was not a positive thing. People were not pleased with that. It was a kick in the gut to the citizens, and it was not in the best interest of the citizens to do that.”

Those were Schriver’s words, not ours ... although we did editorially agree with them, in principal.

In his “Viewpoint,” Rowland states that he feels his integrity has been impugned, and that his years of service — as well as Brooks’ 12 years in the Tennessee Legislature — have been attacked.

He should not. It is certainly not something this newspaper believes.

As mayor of Cleveland, Rowland has maintained a close eye on what’s good for the community and what’s best for its citizens. In his long-time service as a state legislator in District 24, Brooks has done the same. As a newspaper, we haven’t always agreed with their approach, but that’s an accepted fact of life.

Let’s be clear: The city of Cleveland has prospered thanks to the work of two of its finest cheerleaders: Rowland and Brooks.

But we also realize this: Whoever serves as Cleveland mayor is accepting a huge responsibility. As we have stated in prior editorials, both candidates — Brooks and Schriver — can do the job.

We simply want them — either of them — to land the City Hall role on the strength of their own qualifications and their individual beliefs. And we want the citizens of Cleveland to make the choice.

Keeping the playing field level today will better protect against unexpected tilts tomorrow, or in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Online: http://clevelandbanner.com/

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June 9

The Memphis Daily News on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s global initiative:

There aren’t too many physical reminders of the star-shaped building that housed the original St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the early 1960s, other than the statue of St. Jude himself.

The hospital has grown its physical footprint and impact as it’s transformed from a basic medical institution into a world-class research center - and that pace is about to quicken considerably with its ambitious St. Jude Global initiative.

The concept is bigger than structures and acreage, though to be sure, St. Jude is no longer the outpost it once was on Downtown’s north end next to St. Joseph Hospital.

What St. Jude is building is as much a network of unprecedented cooperation and collaboration as it is a growing campus melding into an office district with other mixed uses.

At a time when we are talking about economic development and what the city should pursue in terms of business sectors, St. Jude is a reminder of a goal so large and ambitious that calling it economic development doesn’t begin to do it justice.

But the impact of the institution’s global move is unquestionably one that already is being felt with the search for new space for an undertaking that is growing and bringing new talent to the city every day.

One of our economic development goals over several decades has been the concept of Memphis as a research center. And in its origins was the idea of research campuses like the ones that dot cities with major universities.

There the best and the brightest would come, and from them would radiate not only research but more of the best and brightest - and the higher-paying jobs they occupy would translate into a ripple effect of growth.

Nobody really caught the wave on that, probably because the concept largely papers over many of the conflicting forces that are the Memphis identity. The collision of innovative medical research underway in advanced laboratories with persistent generational health problems and disparities is the most basic schism that requires bold thinking and bold declarations to find a way in Memphis.

It’s exactly that kind of boldness that brought Danny Thomas to Memphis in the late 1950s with a plan for a hospital that would turn no child away and would focus on those with diseases considered incurable. Toward the end of his life, with the campus he and others laid out already in transformation, Thomas pointed the way toward research into pediatric AIDS.

St. Jude’s growth has been accompanied by amazing strides. The childhood cancer survival rate in the 1960s was less than 20 percent; today, 80 percent of U.S. children with cancer become long-term survivors. Thomas’ children and the successors to St. Jude’s early researchers talk of a day when harsh treatments such as chemotherapy will be a thing of the past.

The boldest vision in Memphis’ history isn’t found in the grandest structure we can build or even the biggest workforce. It’s found in the idea of saving lives.

In that regard, St. Jude in the 21st century looks pretty familiar.

Online: https://www.memphisdailynews.com/

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June 8

Johnson City Press on distressed animals in the wild:

Some years ago a young fawn was spotted in the grass under a trampoline. After a few quick photos, the homeowners returned to the house to see if momma deer would show up. That action was the right thing to do. But unfortunately too many people think any young animal they come across is abandoned, and make the mistake of disturbing it.

In the scenario above, momma soon arrived and led the fawn to safety and was able to do so because of the action — or inaction, as the case may be — of the homeowner. Wildlife experts warn that you usually do more harm than good in attempting to help young animals you come across and it’s best to just walk away.

It’s hard to resist coming to the aid of what we see as helpless creatures. If it’s an animal clearly facing a threat, such as one caught or trapped or facing danger, then by all means do what you can to help. But when a wild baby animal seems abandoned or helpless, most often your “rescuing” of it merely takes it away from its parents.

This time of year, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency receives an increase in calls about distressed animals. And most often it is about an abandoned animal. But wild animals “know what they’re doing when it comes to raising offspring,” says Kirk Miles, TWRA wildlife program manager. “Many people believe young wildlife to be abandoned when they’ve simply been concealed by their mothers. If an animal isn’t obviously sick or injured, please leave it alone. This concealment strategy in the animal kingdom works. The mother will tend to her offspring when the area is safe.”

Concerns about abandonment typically center around birds out of nests, young rabbits exposed, squirrels fallen from trees and whitetail fawns found abandoned. The TWRA says in most cases, humans should just leave the animal, as the presence of people can deter wildlife from tending to their young.

People come across fawns in flowerbeds or tree lines and believe they’re abandoned. The TWRA says that on the contrary, whitetails leave fawns hidden and only approach them to allow feeding. If you come across a fawn and it is spooked and runs, don’t follow it. The TWRA added that does behaving oddly in a backyard are sometimes aggravated when humans or pets are close to their hidden fawns, so never approach an adult deer and keep pets away.

Young rabbits are intentionally left in a shallow scraped nest and are covered with vegetation. The TWRA says people often accidentally expose young rabbits when doing yard work. If this happens to you, simply cover the young rabbits back up and leave them alone. And should they run from the nest, leave them. If they can bolt, they’re old enough to be on their own.

Do place any fallen young bird back in the nest if possible. TWRA says it is a myth that human scent will deter parent birds; otherwise, best back away from wildlife. If you’re unsure, call an animal shelter for advice.

Online: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com

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