Urban News

By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Jan. 21, 2002 at 1:13 AM
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(HOUSTON) -- Backers of a plan to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to Houston say that city is not too hot in the summer and, anyway, it boasts three air conditioned stadiums and misting stations at most sports venues. The Chronicle is reporting that many in Houston are seeking a revitalization of interest in sports and think that focusing on an Olympics might be just what the doctor ordered.

The old Astrodome is headed into its final year as host of the famous Houston Rodeo. The publication says that after that event is over the stadium's future is in limbo. At one time it was an architectural marvel. Some say, why not use the venerable building as a major Olympics venue?

Houston is one of four American cities that have put in bids for the 2012 games. The others are San Francisco, Washington and New York. Proponents of hosting the games in the Texas city say that Houston is already the best prepared and would need the fewest number of new buildings to host the contests.

(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony are about to depart on a national tour that will bring them to two eastern cities in the coming weeks. The symphony tells United Press International that the SFS -- as locals call it -- will perform four concerts next month as part of its initial 2002 tour.

The orchestra will visit Carnegie Hall in New York City and stage two concerts on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The tour is the tenth national trip for the orchestra under the baton of maestro Thomas.

Among works scheduled for the concerts are Arnold Schoenberg's "Theme and Variations" and his original 1909 "Five Pieces for Orchestra." Mahler's epic song-symphony "Das Lied von der Erde" will be performed with baritone Thomas Hampson and tenor Michael Schade doing the solo work.

Under the direction of Thomas, in recent years the San Francisco Symphony has gained a reputation for its interpretation of the difficult works of Charles Ives and Gustav Mahler.

(MIAMI) -- A new report shows that the city of Miami has lost millions of dollars in recent years because of shoddy bookkeeping and a reluctance to ask for federal reimbursements. The Herald is reporting that Miami has had to dip into its reserves to the tune of over $4.2 million just to plug holes in city programs created by past failures and tardiness in applying for monies it rightfully deserved.

City officials, the publication notes, say that bad accounting caused the deficits. A recent city audit singled out the city's police department and the community development department as being particularly slow in asking for reimbursements. In some cases, the audit shows, monies were requested and received but were deposited in the wrong city accounts.

(MEMPHIS) -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development confirms that nearly 5,000 employers in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Memphis have qualified for an estimated $300 million in tax breaks during the next eight years. The agency says that it has designated 48 tracts of land -- from the latest census figures -- that cover more than 112,000 residents from the southern to the northern suburbs of Memphis as part of a new "Renewal Communities" program.

Housing Secretary Mel Martinez will be in Memphis early this week to make the announcement official.

The tracts of land include some already earmarked by the city for urban renewal. Included are the so-called Uptown Memphis Redevelopment Zone and the site of the new NBA arena. The city's international airport and train station are also included in the areas designated for tax breaks.

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