There are times, to make a long story short, when outspoken Memphis City Councilman Joe Brown rambles enough to finally hit the nail on the head.
During a council budget committee discussion on Tuesday, he echoed the perfect question that's been asked for decades revolving around what is now Tennessee's most popular tourist attraction.
"Where's ... it goes back to that little commercial. Where's the money?," he asked.
Simple. Straightforward. To the point. Where's the money this city should have and should be collecting as the sub-letter of the historic Beale Street Entertainment District?
"One auditing firm said there was in excess of $6-8 million over to the city," said Councilman Harold Collins. "Another audit firm said there was nothing."
Unfortunately, despite a bankruptcy judge's ruling in October that the street's management company performa should hand over its sublease to the city, despite the objections of Beale Street Development Corporation, the city hasn't fully taken over the management reins pending another final hearing on Jan. 23, 2013.
But, council members couldn't help but have visions of dollars signs suddenly dancing through their heads when city attorney Herman Morris announced the court-appointed receiver collected $157,000 in periodic revenues from the street's grossing power in the last year. However, before we make a call to Silky Sullivan to lead another joyous parade, Morris had more sobering news about the money's fate.
"I believe it's earmarked primarily for issues related to maintaining properties on Beale Street," Morris said.
Repairs? Maintenance? On what?
Morris was not specific, which only made council members revisit the same question their predecessors asked for years without success.
"Is it possible for us to get also a list of all the repairs that have been done on Beale Street prior to us assuming control that was done by performa," Collins said.
Profit or not, Councilman Jim Strickland said there's one "maintenance" issue on Beale that's going to have to be addressed.
"One of the things I'd like to see is revenue generate from there to help pay for extra police protection that they get," Strickland said. "They get more police protection than any other part of the city, which a lot of other parts of the city are starting to resent."
Strickland and the rest of his colleagues called on the city administration to return in two weeks with a plan of action for Beale Street Management and those lists of repairs past and present. Because, as Councilman Brown is so fond of saying, "to make a long story short" when it comes figuring out Beale Street finances the city is still left singing the blues.
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