Youth Violence in Memphis

Growing up in the city of Memphis, I have seen first-hand the turmoil caused by violence among our youth. I grew up in a tough neighborhood in Memphis, but I was provided an education in a better, or a more non-violent, part of town than where I resided.  I am only saying this to say that your community does not indefinitely reflect the person you are to become. I was lucky enough to have support from family and friends to push me in the right direction. It seems everywhere I turn I am reminded and saddened by lack of positivity influencing the upbringing of our future generations today. As of about a week ago, residents of Memphis are now watching over their shoulder at the grocery stores.  Though the city’s crime-rate may have decreased over the years, the day to day crimes acted out by the city’s youth still make me weary.

When I start thinking of ways to get the youth more involved in a positive way, I think about the community centers and programs specifically for our youth. Today I don’t think there are many. We have after school care programs, but I feel as if that only helps a little when it comes to pre-teens. Teenagers, or high school children, are typically more independent.  In the case of young adults, ages 18 and older, they exercise free-will, and we hope for the best. According to an article in the Memphis Flyer, “58 of the 119 lives that fell victim to homicide in Memphis this year were between the ages of 18 and 34.” Recently there was a meeting called the Youth Violence Prevention Forum held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library to brainstorm ideas to help reduce the violence among the youth in the city and find better ways for them to spend their time. Among others ideas, creating a database to share info on the services and ways that the youth could benefit from was discussed.

I haven’t had much experience, as I am only 23 years old, but I am of the young population in Memphis. I feel as if there is nothing to do in the area to keep our youth involved. Schools are losing funding for programs that interest the kids, such as music and art. There aren’t many fun activities to take the place of mischief and they go looking for things to do, which leads to trouble. There are not many places that cater to the younger crowd. Memphis didn’t have too many options to begin with, but the closing of Libertyland and Jillian’s, the game place that was downtown, didn’t help. As the city officials try to build up downtown and other areas, I hope they incorporate something for people of a younger age. I’m sure they get tired of movies every weekend and roaming downtown until they can’t anymore.

First and foremost, let me say I believe parents should play the main role in searching for ways to decrease the violence of our youth, starting with ways to help your child advance. My parents always kept track of where I was and who I was with. That seems like a foreign concept now. Home training starts at home with the guardians. The police can only pick them up after something happens. But to prevent violence, which is my whole point, I believe the support and guidance of our communities can make all the difference.

Link to article in Memphis Flyer:


Major Initiatives in Memphis

Last Wednesday in class, Instructor Sonnenfelt  raised the question of how is public policy initiated and carried out?  It was concluded that the citizens carry out public policy. Politicians initiate the public policies and we, the citizens, carry out those policies.  Citizens inform the politicians of what they need and this information is relayed to the politicians.  These initiatives cost money and sometimes, they are bad investments and lose money for many businesses. In many cases the citizens lives with those bad investments.

Here is an example of what I mean.  In the City of Memphis, the Mid-America Mall was not a good idea for the city because it did not generate any additional funds for the city, but instead drove many businesses, including clothing shops from Main Street.  The parking problem was generated from the decision to remove the paved street to a brick open air Mall.  Parking to shop on Main Street is all but gone.

In addition, I think that  Mud Island and the construction of the Pyramid on Front Street ( built on the river which is gradually sinking) was another bad investment that the city under took some years ago.

It appears that the Politicians and the citizens of Memphis have decided, at least for now, to live with these tremendous errors in judgments.



Sex Trafficking: Shelby County

After reading several articles and also attending a conference a few years ago on Human Trafficking I become very interested in learning more about it and what can be done to stop this horrible form of slavery. Many people think that Human Trafficking is only happening in other country’s and not right here in our community. When I first heard about Human Trafficking I too thought there is no way this is happening here in the United States. I soon found out that it is in fact happening all around us, and even right here in Shelby County. Human trafficking is what we all modern day slavery, it is when children and teenagers are forced into proposition or pornography. They things that these children and teens go through are absolutely horrible. No child or teen should ever have to be a part of these types of things and we need to step up and find a way to stop these people from bringing them into slavery.

A report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found that Shelby County has the highest rate of sex trafficking in the whole state of Tennessee. This was a shock to me, being from here you would not think that this is going on in such high numbers. The TBI has stated that there are many different factors as to why this is happening. Some of these factors include; drugs, poverty, and the home environment in which these people live in. Most of the victims fall under these categories and it causes them to be in situations where being trafficked is more convent. We must stop these men from trafficking children who.

Tennessee has set some Human Trafficking laws and this has helped here in Shelby County to catch these men who are trafficking children and teens right here in our community. There is still more to be done to continue to stop this modern day slavery from happening. There have been 12 anti- human trafficking laws that have been passed in the passed couple of years which is good but we need to find something that is going to move them out completely. The problem that some of the cops have seen is that they will catch a pimp and change him and find the girls that they were using as sex slaves but then later on they would see the same girls again being victimized.  This is such a huge problem around the world as well as right here in our own community and there needs to be something done to stop them and help these children and teens get away from this horrible crime.

Abstinence or safe sex?

I can remember being in the eighth grade and it was time for us to learn about sex. The way the school set it up was to have a guest speaker come and discuss sex; they felt it would make the students feel a little bit more comfortable if they could talk to or ask questions about sex if they were talking to a stranger. But there was a big issue apparently when the school sent home letters about this grade wide discussion because we had to take home and return parent signed permission slips saying it was ok for us to attend this big seminar. Of course the speaker talked about abstaining from sex and what would happen if you did not. We were pretty much told not to have sex if you are not married unless you want to contract AIDS or become pregnant. The speaker did not even bother to talk about safe sex, the comment “if you are thinking about having sex, this is what you should do”, was never said. That just makes me wonder how are supposed to be preparing our students for life if  they are not completely aware of all the alternatives or options.  Is it not better to explain to young adults that although it is important and probably better to wait until you are married that however if you are going to engage in sex before then this is how u should handle it? And along with teaching about sex it should not be one sided either; guys should not hold the responsibility of providing protection alone. If it takes two to engage in sex why not educate BOTH girls and guys on the many options they have when it comes to protection: condoms for both males and females, birth control (its many options), the diaphragm, fertility awareness, etc. When both sexes are educated on using some form of protection it can reduce the number of teenage parents as well as the spreading of sexual transmitted diseases. Although no one wants to talk about the spreading of STDs it is common and at a very high number among young adults. This may be because no one wants to talk about it; it is always brushed under the rug. And surprisingly studies have shown where they have asked teenage students what would or could be the worst possible outcome that could result from having unprotected sex: most students said pregnancy. WOW!!! They would be more devastated over having a baby as opposed to contracting a disease that may or may not be curable. I believe that all boils down to their lack of education; which brings me back to my topic. Would it not be more beneficial if they were educated on every and anything related to sex? I do understand that it is a very touchy subject and no one ever wants to talk about it especially in public but it has to be done so why not do it and make sure it is effective and beneficial. The reason school boards probably felt it was important to talk about sex in the first place is because of teenage pregnancy so why not cover all grounds with it. Teenage pregnancy might also be an issue but the percentage might drop if students are being educated on everything there is to know about sex.

With the knowledge you have now about sex, think about what all you did not know or understand when your school decided to have the sex talk. Do you not feel cheated? Are you not angry that they did not tell the whole truth?

Guns In Public Places

On September 8, 2014 Panera Bread released the following statement: “Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment; we are currently working to create for our guests and associates”. Employees at Panera Bread will continue to follow state and local  laws regarding firearm policies. Legislation regarding the open carry of a handgun varies by state. Local governments can enact regulation banning guns in a specific area as long as management post signs alerting patrons to the rules. Panera Bread operates 1,800 cafes, which are located in 45 states including Canada. To date, Panera Bread has not had any issues with firearms at any of its locations.

There have been similar announcements made in the last year by Starbucks, Target, Chipotle, and Sonic. It seems that all of these companies are a middle-of-the road approach to avoid offending anyone on the U.S. gun debate. While these companies are willing to say “no guns please”, they are stopping short of banning firearms outright, but what is wrong with banning firearms?

Our government has refused to enact sensible gun laws, like proper background checks on every gun sale in the county. There is nothing wrong with businesses wanting to protect their customers, when lawmakers will not.  I understand that businesses do not want to jeopardize their bottom line, but if businesses joined together to protect their customers and they all prohibit guns then, it will be a safe environment for us.  If all businesses joined together in prohibiting guns this would resolve the issue of losing profits due to their position on guns.

The Raw Truth about MPD Rape Kits

If having your body taken advantage of by a serial rapist isn’t traumatic enough, then try imagining that the Memphis Police Department doesn’t believe your story and that your rape kit is stacked up in a box collecting dust just waiting to be tested in order to put the rapist in prison. Well, that’s exactly what happened in this Commercial Appeal article found at the link at the bottom of this page. The serial rapist, not worthy of a name, but for clarity we will call him by his given name, Alliano. Alliano is a serial rapist who I believe deserves to be hung for his crimes. Well, we might not perform hangings in our society anymore, but I’m sure we can find the next suitable punishment for this creep. The Memphis Police Department (MPD) failed in this case. They failed to test the rape kits of these girls who were raped. Instead, they let them pile up in dusty cardboard boxes for nearly a decade, along with numerous other rape kits! He has now been arrested and will spend 178 years in prison for his decade long spree of the rape of young women and girls.

The public was in danger for about a decade due to the MPD’s failure to test the 12,000 rape kits and failure to fully investigate these sexual assault cases. They failed to prosecute him multiple times when he was arrested for rapes and then failed to test the victim’s rape kits. This could have kept other victims from facing the horrors that these girls had to face at the hand of this disgusting rapist. This could’ve been done by having Alliano’s DNA profile uploaded into a national FBI database where it could’ve been compared to other DNA from other crime scenes if he would have been convicted. Instead, the detectives of the MPD were skeptical of the girls’ stories, which did not help in solving the crimes and prosecuting Alliano and his DNA was never put into the FBI database.

We should all be aware of this atrocity because it can happen to you or one’s loved one if our city protectors are not doing their job properly like we pay them to do! The MPD allowed a serial rapist out on the prowl for a decade, which is completely unacceptable in my eyes and I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way. Meaghan Ybos, a victim of Alliano, stated, “I risked my life to call the police because he had threatened to kill me. And they [MPD] left me out in the cold.” Ybos was the first known victim of Alliano and she came to police with her story, yet the police were skeptical of her.

There is no excuse for this kind of “mistake.” Although the Shelby County District Attorney Chief Deputy Jennifer Nichols, who prosecuted Alliano, excuses this behavior by saying the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation didn’t begin uploading DNA profiles into the FBI’s national Combined DNA Index System database until 2002, which took some police agencies some years to get into the habit of submitting evidence for DNA testing. What kind of excuse is this?! So now victims suffer because it was difficult for police agencies to get into the habit of submitting the evidence?! This is a failure on the part of our police agencies and the people who pay the price are the victims and the public.

So we know WHY the MPD didn’t manage this issue and how they so called, “managed” the issue by not testing the rape kits or taking the victims seriously, but how does this affect the public? The public is left unable to trust their police department when they’re in a situation such as these female victims. If we become victims of rape and muster up enough courage to go to the police, or have a rape kit done will it be taken seriously and will the kit be tested in a timely manner? How many rapist are on the loose roaming our city streets due to these untested rape kits? Can we feel confident in that our local MPD will take our rape charges seriously when we confront them with our horrifying accounts?

Think about these questions and let’s hope that this tragedy doesn’t happen again so we can lock rapists up on their first offense and have them put in the FBI database.

Check out the full story here:

Motor Vehicle Inspection

The city of Memphis has decided to close all the vehicle inspection station and allow us to just pay for our tags to register our vehicles. I’m not real happy with this decision for numerous reasons. With this decision means we will have more cars on our streets that are not fit to driven, and our air pollution will seemingly get worst. Our city officials are telling us that the city wasn’t making any money at the stations and the city was losing money operating the four stations around the city. The city wanted the county to take over the Inspection Maintenance program and Gov. Haslam said that the state would not provide assistance in the operation of the program. The on going “soap opera” of why county residents didn’t have to take their vehicles through inspection and the majority of the people living in the county actually work here in the city using the city streets and help pollute the city’s air it really doesn’t seem fair. With the city spending $2.7 million a year on testing and with no help from the county I do understand that point. The city’s Inspection Maintenance program is a partly federally approved plan to reduce pollution, losing this funding could cause the EPA could cut off federal highway funds. Although losing inspection process has made life so much easier for city patrons just go pay for your tags and keep driving. but what about the safety on the streets, what having safe vehicles on our roads. This situation to me seems like a quick fix to me,we should out source the inspection program. this way the city and county can stay within federal sanctions. If the private company can provide the service under the city, county and state guidelines its a win-win situation. We go back to having safer vehicles driven, the city and county are no longer in danger of losing federal funding and if the city and county could get a small percentage of the private company’s revenue the city and county would still make money from both city and county residents. This would make it a level playing field everybody pays, all parties get paid for services rendered. The city and county residents need more than one option of getting their vehicles inspected I believe the vehicle inspection process could be expanded  to where to services could be made a convince instead of being a inconvenience. Why not bring the vehicle inspection service to the residents home, or to the where ever the vehicle is located. This way resident wont have to worry about sitting in long lines or trying to make it to the inspection station before it closes. This type of mobile service would be a perfect move in moving the city forward, because our society is constantly moving toward convince. I’m surprised that we haven’t gone to begin able to perform vehicle inspection through our cell phones, oh wait that maybe coming soon.

Invasion of Privacy or no privacy at all

I assume by the title of this blog, most people are going to think that the contents of this piece will include disgruntled accusations against the NSA (National Security Agency) of the US government. However, I actually want to bring my audience’s attention to the private sector, and private companies such as Samsung, Apple, and etc. Most consumers do not realize how much these companies are overstepping their boundaries by monitoring their lives in their own homes, and they are doing it using the very devices we are purchasing from them. Such as your Androids, iPad, iPhone, and tablets and the companies are doing so at their own discretion.
When I first became suspicious of my conversations being recorded was last Christmas at a family gathering. I was at my aunt’s house and I asked my cousin where she had gotten her pants from because they were cute, and I wanted a pair. During the conversation she told me that she had ordered the pants from Zulily. Then, over the next few days every time I got online for anything, all the advertisements were Zulily, and also popups. At first I thought no way, and began having conversations with friends and family asking if it were possible that we were being spied on for marketing. Or maybe I was just paranoid. Or was it all just a coincidence, and there was no connection. So I started to do a little research to see if it were possible that someone had been listening to what I was saying.
The things I discovered as I dug into the aspect that my phone was being used as a device for marketing became very upsetting. I can understand how it would be possible to use apps such as Pinterest, and Facebook to see what my interests are because that is a public forum. To discover that not only apps that I had personally downloaded, but also apps that had been preinstalled by the manufacturer on my phone, had the permission to invade my privacy did not sit well with me at all. As I started to investigate how the apps worked and the permissions that were given for the apps, I realized that not only are they allowed to record audio and video and take pictures, but they can also use my email and texts to send messages without my knowledge. The aspect of all this that really blew my mind, was that the company could also charge me for their use, without my knowledge.
I assume a certain level of “expectation of privacy” in my home, even though I do realize that constitutionally we do not have any specific laws governing privacy. This is due to the government’s rights for suspicion of illegal activity by a citizen, which is “search and seizure.” Nevertheless, I do expect some protection from companies who feel that it is ok to record our lives at will. Previously the only way we have had to try to protect ourselves from such invasion was rooting our phones. This is a process that allows you to access the operating system codes for your device, which gives you the ability to modify the software codes or delete any unwanted apps that have been made inaccessible to the consumer by the manufacturer. This avenue did come with risks. The manufacturer had stated that once the phone had been rooted, this made the manufacturer’s warranty no longer valid. This made the consumer responsible for anything that happened to the phone, regardless of when purchased. Until recently.
A new bill has been passed stating that consumers are no longer at risk of losing their warranty due to rooting their phones. The manufacturer can no longer apply this rule to scare the consumer into keeping only the manufacturer’s settings, which only benefits the manufacturer. But are public administrations doing enough to protect the consumer from such companies? Also, how it is possible that laws have been set in place to confront the issues of camera phones and their misuse, yet it does not apply to corporations. Such as the “Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004” [it was] passed through Congress virtually unopposed. What does this mean to you? It means that when it comes to having your picture taken without your permission, you have some rights.” ( How come even though this law exists, it does not apply to everyone? Are regulations being implemented fairly?

The Right to Bear Arms/Permits

The issue that I would like to talk about is the second amendment. As we all know the second amendment gives us the right to bear arms. However, over the past couple of years there has been a lot of people killed in public places by guns. I honestly do not believe that everyone is mentally equip to carry guns. For example, in 2007 at Virginia Tech a man shot and killed thirty-three people on campus. The gun man was going from classroom to classroom opening fire on any and everybody he wanted to. In addition, after the gun man killed everyone that he could, he turned the gun on himself and ended his own life. Now does that sound like someone who was mentally capable of carrying a fire arm? There are debates being held around the city that discusses should people be allowed to carry a fire arm without a permit. I honestly believe that this is one of the worst things that can happen if this gets approved. If there are massacres at universities from just one gun man loosing his mind, there is no telling what other bizarre scenarios might happen if no one needs a permit. The second amendment gave us the right to care guns. I do not believe that  when this amendment was made people were going around shooting public places up with guns. In addition, I do not believe that they factored in that some people might be mentally stable of carrying a gun. Guns are suppose to be used to protect yourself and others from those who put you all in possible fatal situations. Also, if people were able to carry guns without a permit, crime rate could possible rise. If people do not need gun permits for guns then that means that there will be more guns on the streets and in public places. Lets just think about that for a second. This means that possible anyone can grab a gun and go on a shooting rampage through out a school, movie theater, etc. On July 20, 2014 a man by the name of James Holmes just walked into the movie theaters. When James walked into the movie he opened fire on everyone not carrying who he shot or who he killed. He was wearing protective gear from head to toe. The guns that James used was an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber handgun.  James Holmes that day killed 12 people and 58 were injured. James Holmes was charged with 152 counts. The most craziest part about this is he plead not guilty on behave of he is insane. The judge accepted Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Holmes was  taken to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo .  In the courtroom James’s hair was really messy and a bright orange. James probably was crazy but if everyone is able to get the chance  to shoot up a room, how many of them would claim insanity as well? To conclude, I do not believe that everyone should have the right to bear arms nor do I believe people should be able to purchase guns without a permit.

PADM in Relation to Kroger Scandal

The recent Kroger scandal, at the corner of Highland and Poplar, has Memphians concerned for the wellbeing and safety of family and friends.

Living in Memphis for the vast majority of my life, I’ve grown up in phases: from terrified of being alone night or day, to over comfortable with closing the local coffee shop I worked at by myself at midnight, to where I am today.  My heart saddens for the city that is rooted so deeply in love and support to be hit with spurts of violent crime that fill up our news channels.

As many know, over the weekend Kroger was bombarded by a mob of black youths who swarmed and beat three victims unconscious. Onlookers could blame the parents for their lack of disciplining the children, the youth themselves for causing the disturbance, or the city’s government for lack in implication of stricter rules and regulations for teens.

Should the police force be doing more?  Should Memphis residences just be more cautious?  Should curfew times be stricter?  Should violations and fines be enforced? Do these teens even have the proper knowledge of governmental rules set in place for them?

On the basis that Public Administrators are not only high and mighty government officials, but also servants publicly working in departments and agencies at all levels, we need to keep in mind the safety and protection of all involved when demanding stricter implication and policies.  Is an incident such as this truly a public administration debate?  We must define and uproot the definition of Public Administration before we throw our ideas and demands their way.

As quoted from “Public Administration in an Advancing South,” Gordon Clapp (previous Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority) defined public administration as “a public instrument whereby democratic society may be more completely realized.’ This implies that it must ‘relate itself to concepts of justice, liberty, and fuller economic opportunity for human beings’ and is thus ‘concerned with people, with ideas, and with things.’”

More recently scholars claim that “public administration has no generally accepted definition”, because the “scope of the subject is so great and so debatable that it is easier to explain than define.”


Enforced by Tennessee Government, the curfew laws for teens stand that teens under the age of 16 cannot be in public between the hours of 10pm and 6am.  According to an article from 2013, published by “global post” online, although curfew may seem silly, “the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that national juvenile detention rates were at their lowest in 35 years, with Tennessee exhibiting the biggest drop — it is unclear how big a role that curfew has played, but it’s safe to assume that curfews didn’t hurt.”

I remember as a High Schooler, being pulled over at 3am one morning for a curfew violation.  I laughed at the police officer as he called my parents, and cursed him for his “stupidity” as I got in the car with my mom.  Needless to say, he prevented a 16 year old girl, who had snuck out of her house, from meeting up at an 18 year old boys house in the middle of the night. As I get older, my respect for the Memphis Police Department and our government officials continues to increase.

Our Tennessee Government is right in placing these laws, but do measures need to be taken henceforth to enforce them?  Growing up in a predominantly white suburb, the police were close to impossible to avoid as a teen after 11pm.  In the city where the population increases substantially, it might be harder to survey ever so closely.  Teens might also know that they have a greater chance of getting away without punishment.

One idea I propose is to further incorporate the idea of reprimanding in relation to alcohol/drug abuse classes into the school system.  I am aware that a couple days of the year most students sit in on a lecture about the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Is the government getting a portion of the lecture as well?  Some students could hear the effects of drug and alcohol all day and will not change their minds about their involvement with them.  I feel as if our public administration representatives should have the opportunity to voice to the students the rules put in place for teens and why they are as such.  Most teens hear these rules and right them off as silly and undeserved.  If I were a teenager I would need statistics, facts, reasoning, and a voice before I gave someone the right to be heard.

All in all, I feel as if it falls into the hands of our Public Administrators locally to enforce that classes be taken and lectures set in place for teens in raising awareness for governmental rules and regulations. Why is it that Driver’s Education classes are held, but alcohol and drug abuse classes are secluded to a few hours a year?  Is it possible to offer classes such as these either as a mandatory elective in school or as a class such as drivers ed. that deduces our insurance?  With crime rates as they are now, something has to be done in the hands of those larger than protesters and onlookers.



Clapp, Gordon. 1948. “Public Administration in an Advancing South.” Public Administration Review Vol 8. No. 2 pp. 169-175.