Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ancient Rome. And no, not because my favorite TV show is coming back for Season Two, but that’s a good guess.
The emperors had a clever way of stifling dissent in the ancient empire. When discontent over high taxes, rampant crime, the corruption of public officials, widespread poverty, and disappearing jobs reached a fevered pitch, a new monument was announced— And quite often, a new amphitheater in which to hold gladiatorial games.
So it is perhaps no surprise that as scandal rocks the city council, the city sets a new murder record, and poverty tightens its deathgrip on the inner city, Mayor Herenton announces his plans to build a new football stadium.
The timing is a bit puzzling. There’s been no recent discussion of an NFL franchise coming here, leaving the sole resident of a new stadium the University of Memphis Tigers, a football team that could be replaced by the marching band without anyone noticing. Even during the two good seasons they had, Tiger football was not exactly what one would call a tourist trap, so we can dispense with the idea that a river of liquid gold will flood the streets of the city when it opens.
If our own Caesar is to leave us with a legacy, let it be one of sober and responsible government. I love this city, and it certainly deserves “the finer things” in life— But those finer things should be a school system that doesn’t crumble around its students and a police force that pays well enough to draw the best and brightest into its ranks.
Those should be the priorities of a city. Not a nicer football field.
This city should have priorities. If we don’t take care of them first, then we’re simply giving the criminal element of this city a nicer place to break into cars with out of state license plates.