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Editorial Results (free)

1. Council Displeased With Budget Ideas -

This isn’t going to be pretty. Two weeks before Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. takes a budget proposal to the Memphis City Council, council members reacted angrily to how Wharton’s administration set the stage for its definitive recommendations.

2. Council Unhappy With Budget Plans So Far -

The administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. got a rough reception at the Tuesday, April 1, Memphis City Council session as it set the stage for Wharton’s budget proposal to come in two weeks.

3. City Pension Change Outlined for 2015 -

The administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. made its formal proposal of a “long-term solution” and change in the city’s pension plan to a 401(k) style plan this week with specific terms Wharton has long said would be included.

4. Debt and Liability -

There is rarely a good answer to the question “How much?” in politics.

With issues including the unfunded pension liability, overall debt, and revenue estimates and their validity, City Hall’s overall money problem begins but hardly ends with the question. It won’t be that simple.

5. Council’s Ire at Wharton Timing Grows -

It is a political constant in life at City Hall for Memphis City Council members to complain that they get critical information much too late in the decision-making process and then are pressured by the mayor to make a decision then and there.

6. Memphis Demolition Moratorium Delayed -

A plan by some on the Memphis City Council to declare a four-month moratorium on all demolitions of Memphis properties on the National Register of Historic Places was put off this week after questions about the legality of the moratorium.

7. Council Grapples With Attrition Plan Reality -

Every version of a city budget the Memphis City Council and Mayor A C Wharton Jr. considered in June included a plan to lose 300 city employees through attrition for long-term savings toward meeting rising future debt obligations.

8. Council Ponders Use of Reserve To Keep Fire Station Open -

Memphis City Council member considered briefly Tuesday, July 16, using $1.1 million from the $48 million city reserve fund to keep a North Memphis fire station open.

But they dropped the idea after Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. agreed to keep Fire Station #6, on Danny Thomas Boulevard north of Chelsea Avenue open at least until Labor Day.

9. City Budget Woes Affect 400 Employees -

The numbers at play so far in the Memphis City Council’s long budget season are big.

Council members tallied $24.4 million in city operating budget cuts Tuesday, June 18, in a marathon seven-hour session before an overflow crowd of angry city employees.

10. State Concerns Blow Up City Budget -

When the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. went to the state earlier this year for approval of a $112.4 million refunding bonds issuance, it was the second time in four years City Hall had used a debt tactic known as “scoop and toss.”

11. Gay, Transgender City Workers Protected From Discrimination -

At the end of a long night at City Hall with a relatively short agenda, Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism told Memphis City Council members that their meetings looked like more “fun” than the commission’s meetings.

12. Council Delays Anti-Discrimination Ordinance -

When the Memphis City Council got to the real intent this week of the latest version of an anti-discrimination ordinance it has been debating off and on for two years, it wasn’t just a decision about including “sexual orientation” in the wording.

13. Council Passes Sales Tax Hike Ballot Question -

The pair of questions the Memphis City Council is considering for the Nov. 6 ballot is another chapter in the council’s nearly five-year debate about the size and role of city government.

The council Tuesday, July 17, approved on third and final reading the referendum ordinance that puts a half percent local option sales tax hike proposal to Memphis voters.

14. Wharton: ‘Everything is Coming Together’ -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. had to make a decision Monday, July 2: Get up before dawn and catch a flight to Atlanta or stick with a scheduled and extensive bus tour for newspaper editors and others of the three core city neighborhoods he has targeted in a small-business innovation effort.

15. Unified Development Code Meeting Slated for June 27 -

A public meeting to discuss amendments to the Unified Development Code is slated for Wednesday, June 27, at Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper St., from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

16. City Council Approves $9M Stadium Improvements -

The idea of advancing city money with several layers of other funding from sources other than City Hall at a later date surfaced again this week at City Hall.

The Memphis City Council approved on Tuesday, April 3, a $9 million deal to make improvements to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

17. Council Approves Liberty Bowl Upgrade Financing -

The Memphis City Council approved up to $9 million in financing Tuesday, April 3, for improvements to the Liberty Bowl that come with the University of Memphis Tigers football team moving to the Big East athletic conference.

18. Council Rejects 18 Cent Property Tax Hike -

Memphis City Council members voted Tuesday, March 20, to reject a one-time, 18-cent property tax hike to mop up an estimated $13 million in red ink for the current fiscal year.

Instead the council voted to use $10 million from the city’s reserve fund and cut $3.2 million in the existing budget including money for a voluntary buyout program of some sanitation workers that the Wharton administration has yet to activate.

19. Elvis Presley Blvd. Center of Council Talks -

For decades what is now Elvis Presley Boulevard was the road to Memphis for those from Mississippi, whether they were coming to stay or coming to visit.

Much has changed since Elvis Presley moved into a home on a hill already named Graceland in the mid-1950s when Whitehaven was a country road not yet a part of the city of Memphis.

20. Hedgepeth’s Work Intersects With Council Role -

A Memphian born and raised, Reid Hedgepeth takes great pride in his city’s institutions, whether they be the tangible of medicine and education, or the more intangible of sports and politics.

21. Council Weighs In on Electrolux Incentives -

Some Memphis City Council members want to at least slow the appropriation of local government funding to Electrolux North America Cooking Products if the company isn’t more responsive to hiring local for the construction of its Memphis manufacturing plant.

22. Wharton, Fullilove & Conrad Re-Elected -- Harris-Ford to Runoff - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. won a full four-year term of office as mayor Thursday, Oct. 6, two years after he claimed the mayor’s office in a special election.

And all 12 of the Memphis City Council members seeking re-election won new four year terms in the city election cycle, marking the largest return of incumbents to the 13-member council in the 43-year history of the mayor-council form of government.

23. Unions Continue Budget Battle in Thursday’s Election -

No ballot questions are to be decided in the Thursday, Oct. 6, Memphis elections. But at least one of the City Council races will be viewed as a referendum on the clout of the city’s municipal labor unions.

24. Vote for Me -

Four years after the biggest turnover on the Memphis City Council, the Oct. 6 city elections could see the biggest return of incumbents ever on the council. Early voting begins Friday, Sept. 16.

Twelve of the 13 incumbents are seeking re-election. It would have been 13 had Barbara Swearengen Ware not taken a plea deal on an official misconduct charge.

25. Boyd Moves Into Temp. Council Seat -

It’s the week between the filing deadline for the Oct. 6 Memphis elections and the deadline for any candidates who made the first deadline to get out of the race by Thursday, July 28, at noon – the withdrawal deadline.

26. 4 Council Members - All 3 City Court Judges To Run Unopposed In Oct. Elections -

Four incumbent Memphis City Council members and all three incumbent City Court Judges were effectively re-elected at the Thursday, July 21, noon deadline for candidates to file their qualifying petitions for the Oct. 6 Memphis ballot.

27. Last-Minute Filers Make Election Deadline -

A flurry of last-minute filings came at the noon Thursday, July 21, deadline for candidates in the Oct. 6 Memphis elections to turn in their qualifying petitions.

Shelby County Election Commission staffers were still checking the signatures on the petitions filed Thursday to make sure those signing were voters and lived in the districts they signed for or the city in the case of the citywide races.

28. Couple Of Firecrackers -

RUNNING FULL CIRCLE. This July Fourth weekend, I’ll be doing what many of you will be doing. Dealing with some part of a pig and some brand of beer, laughing with folks, and hopefully pausing to be hopeful, remembering those who made and make it possible for all of us to do all of that. I’ll also be doing what a couple hundred guys in our forces in Afghanistan will be doing – remembering two cute Memphis girls.

29. Pieces of the Puzzle -

Memphis City Council members left the city property tax rate at $3.19 Tuesday, June 21, as they ended their budget season.

But they added 18 cents to the tax rate on a one time basis with a separate resolution.

30. Council Approves ‘Right-Sizing’ Budget, Tax Hike -

While the Memphis City Council left the city property tax rate at $3.19 as it ended the budget season Tuesday, June 21, it added 18 cents to the tax rate on a one-time basis with a separate resolution.

31. Wharton to Present New Budget to Council -

Memphis City Council members will try again Tuesday, June 21, to approve a city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. was expected to bring a new balanced budget proposal to the council as the week began.

32. City Council Delays Budget Approval -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said Tuesday’s 13-hour City Council budget marathon proves the city will get its economic house in order over several years instead of in the next fiscal year alone.

33. City Council Rejects 18-Cent Property Tax Hike -

The city of Memphis operating budget for the fiscal year to come July 1 is $11 million from being balanced.

The Memphis City Council voted on a series of 16 budget amendments Tuesday, June 7 in a marathon council session that began at 9 a.m. with the budget committee and ended shortly after 10 p.m.

34. Council Prepares for Long Budget Session -

Memphis City Council members have a long day ahead Tuesday, June 7, at City Hall with lots of numbers and important decisions.

The council will either finish its budget season Tuesday or could go into an overtime period that could stretch past the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

35. To Bike or Not to Bike -

Reid Hedgepeth had heard vaguely about plans for the Shelby Farms Greenline when it began to take shape two years ago. But the City Council member didn’t quite know what to expect when the greenline began taking shape behind his home in High Point Terrace.

36. Municipal Unions Rally Against Conrad Proposal -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said Thursday, June 2, he is not “seeking privatization of any of the positions” held by members of the union that represents the city’s sanitation workers.

Wharton’s written statement came the day after Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad presented a plan for balancing the city’s operating budget in the new fiscal year and beyond with several measures including privatizing or outsourcing the city’s garbage collection.

37. Council, Wharton Spar Over LayOffs -

Memphis City Council members and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. mixed it up Tuesday evening about where the line is drawn between the two branches of city government when it comes to planned city layoffs.

38. Council to Consider Sewer Fee, Postponing Layoffs -

A voting majority of Memphis City Council members seem to have reached an early agreement on lowering the city sewer fee.

At a 10 a.m. council committee session Tuesday, council members will discuss the proposed ordinance sponsored by eight of the 12 council members to cut the maximum monthly residential sanitary sewer fee from $50 to $25.

39. Cuts Point To City’s Shaky Budget Plan -

About this point three years ago, the current Memphis City Council – only four or five months in office – took the daring move of cutting the city’s property tax rate by 18 cents and cut funding to Memphis City Schools by $57 million.

40. City Seeks Fast Fairgrounds Development -

The $15 million creation of Tiger Lane last year at the Mid-South Fairgrounds happened within budget and so quickly that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration would like to use the method to venture into the more complex parts of the renovation of the city-owned property.

41. UP Exec, Local Group to Meet About Harahan Wagonway -

Union Pacific Railroad CEO James Young meets at the company’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb., Friday with a group from Memphis and West Memphis to talk about biking and hiking.

42. Local Group, UP to Discuss Harahan Bridge -

A delegation from Memphis led by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will be in Omaha, Neb., next week to talk with Union Pacific railroad executives about a bicycle and pedestrian path across the Mississippi River.

43. Council Approves Midtown Overlay -

The Midtown overlay is a done deal with this week’s approval by the Memphis City Council.

And the final result is a set of development guidelines that now allows the CVS pharmacy at Union Avenue and Cooper Street that wasn’t allowed by the overlay in its previous form.

44. Council Redo On MCS Funding -

Memphis City Council members gave final approval Tuesday to a trio of pet ordinances, a new set of rules for false alarms, an amended Midtown overlay and approved a CVS pharmacy near the University of Memphis.

45. Time to Shine Lights on Tiger Lane -

The $15 million Tiger Lane project at the Mid-South Fairgrounds will get a “blue” opening Wednesday evening.

The blue isn’t from the University of Memphis Tigers’ opening loss of the football season. It is strings of blue lights from the East Parkway entrance to the western wall of the Liberty Bowl stadium.

46. Preservationists Strike Up Battle Hymn -

The Memphis City Council’s 10-2 vote Tuesday to approve plans for a CVS drug store on the corner of Union Avenue and Cooper Street seems to mean the demolition of Union Avenue United Methodist Church.

47. Midtown CVS Approved By Council -

Memphis City Council member approved a CVS drug store at Union Ave and Cooper St. on a 10-2 vote that followed a two hour debate.

The council also approved an amendment calling on the developers of the store to get as close as they can in their plans to requirements of the advisory Midtown overlay. The two exceptions to that are restrictions on a drive through window for the pharmacy and how far from the street the building can be.

48. City Council Gives UDC Green Light -

It is complex. It is tedious. Some of its proponents even call it boring. And it took six years to create.

This week the Memphis City Council gave final approval to a new Unified Development Code that won final approval the day before by the Shelby County Commission.

49. Bass Pro and Beyond -

"Adaptive reuse” is the term for what city leaders hope will happen at The Pyramid.

Throw in the Mid-South Fairgrounds and the Beale Street Landing projects, though, and “adaptive reuse” seems inadequate to define what is happening among the three concepts.

50. City Mulls Hiking Sanitation Fees -

Although there is no city property tax hike tied to the city budget the Memphis City Council will vote on next week, a $4.50 increase in the city solid waste fee is on the table as the council prepares for the new fiscal year July 1.

51. Funding Questions Haunt Beale Street Landing Project -

The president of the Riverfront Development Corp. said earlier this week the organization may have been too aggressive in pursuing the Beale Street Landing project, even when federal stimulus funding dried up.

52. Council Approves Robinson As City HR Director -

The Memphis City Council approved the appointment Tuesday of Quintin Robinson as the city’s new Human Resources Division director.

Robinson has worked in HR at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., as well as at The Commercial Appeal newspaper.

53. Fairgrounds Plan Has New Details -

Memphis City Council members took up a trio of high profile CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) Tuesday as they prepared for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

The Fairgrounds

Council members got their first look at detailed plans for “Tiger Lane”, the greenspace to be created at The Fairgrounds from East Parkway to the west side of The Liberty Bowl stadium by mid September.

54. Fairgrounds Work Continues Despite Flux -

On his way home from church one Sunday last month, Kevin Kane and his family decided to go by the Mid-South Fairgrounds to see what was left of the Zippin Pippin.

55. Fairgrounds Work Continues Despite Parking Questions -

The demolition and cleanup of the old Libertyland theme park is just about finished, and a 10-0 vote by the Memphis City Council this week means that and other work to create a “great lawn” at the Mid-South Fairgrounds will continue for now.

56. Fairgrounds Jump Start on Council's Agenda -  

Memphis City Council members will be called on today to jump start the stalled renovation of The Fairgrounds.

The push by the Liberty Bowl's three tenants is to get an immediate council vote on a plan to create a great lawn at the Fairgrounds and demolish seven buildings including the Pipkin Building.

An ad hoc committee including council members and representatives of the three tenants met Monday evening to talk about current demolition underway at the Fairgrounds.

The demolition of the old Libertyland amusement park caused some concern when it went into a parking area outside the park.

Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones immediately began expressing concerns that the new activity as well as the digging of a temporary siltation pond would cut the number of parking spaces available for his annual Jackson State-Tennessee State football matchup.

The work was stopped several weeks ago as the council tried to sort out where the demolition ended and the creation of a “great lawn” during the brief tenure of Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery began.

“There’s a whole lot of work still being done,” Jones told the committee Monday evening of what he had seen earlier that day.

City Housing and Community Development director Robert Lipscomb said it was only a “clean up” of the area.

At Monday’s meeting, the three tenants of the football stadium said they back going ahead with the great lawn project as long as the lawn, in some form, and a plan to demolish the seven buildings, most of which are livestock barns, can all be done by the time football resumes at the Liberty Bowl with the Sept. 11 Southern Heritage Classic.

Some of the demolition contracts run out next week.

Jones said he supports the concept of a great lawn from East Parkway to the stadium. But he questioned whether the plans would increase the number of parking spaces from the current 5,372 within the Fairgrounds property to 7,568.

“We need to know exactly what we have. I don’t mean conceptually,” Jones said. “You’re not creating new spaces.”

Architect Tom Marshall, the city’s consultant on the project, insisted new and more parking will be created with the demolition of the buildings and Libertyland.

Marshall offered to come up with a detailed map showing individual parking spaces for today’s council discussion expected to begin during executive session at 1pm.

“I’ll even put in big cars,” he told Jones at one point.

Jones was the only no vote in the seven member committee vote to ask the city council for immediate approval of the project.

“I’m not really satisfied with what I’ve seen,” he said after he and others said the work by some divisions of the city including the Park Services division didn’t mesh with what other parts of city government were saying. “It’s just too convenient that the park services people weren’t here. Every time we say there is additional parking, I have not seen it.”

Council member Reid Hedgepeth moderated the session, trying to keep all of those involved from discussing past mis-steps.

“From now on people are going to know what’s happening,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it. If not … let’s send them home,” he said referring to demolition crews.

Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart said pre bowl game events should have some kind of building on the grounds to host them. Lipscomb said a tent will serve the purpose even though Ehrhart would prefer one of the surviving Fairgrounds buildings.

“A tent would be better than those buildings,” Lipscomb said.

Marshall estimated what is known as phase one of The Fairgrounds overhaul could cost $6-million to $9-million. There are no plans for a second phase or anything else beyond the great lawn and the building demolition.

The phase one cost could vary depending on bids and design work still to be done. Construction would start in June. But the council could vote on a specific design in April or May.

“We’re supportive of it,” University of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said near the end of the two hour session. “I’m more and more concerned about the land. But we want to move on it.”

The construction of the Salvation Army Kroc Center on a Fairgrounds lot along East Parkway next to Fairview Junior High School is independent of the city’s on again-off again plans for the rest of the Fairgrounds property including phase one.

...

57. UPDATE: Council To Be Asked To Jump Start Fairgrounds Project -

Memphis City Council members will be on the deciding end Tuesday of a push to get an immediate council vote on a plan to create a great lawn at the Fairgrounds and demolish seven buildings including the Pipkin Building.

58. MCS Funding Raises Flags for City Budget Audit -

Resolving the legal spat between the Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools that’s put millions of dollars at stake probably won’t blow a hole in the city’s budget.

That’s the opinion former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton’s administration and the city’s legal counsel shared with the independent auditors who reviewed the city’s books during the fiscal year that ended June 30. The auditors noted the city’s opinion in their just-released review of the city’s financials.

59. School Funding Debate Marches On -

The city of Memphis is pursuing a last appeal in the Memphis school funding court case, and the City Council this week came up with a plan to provide $50 million in court-ordered funding to the school system.

60. UPDATE: Council Weighs One-Time 31 Cent Tax Hike -

Memphis City Council members will weigh budget cuts in the middle of the current fiscal year as well as using at least $16 million of the city’s reserve funds to pay the Memphis school system $50 million.

61. Scrap Metal Rules Spit-Shined -

Once Memphis City Council members thought they had solved the problem of scrap metal looting, they faced another problem – ending a legal stalemate with scrap metal dealers who sued the city of Memphis two years ago over the ordinance.

62. Chaotic Council Welcomes Wharton To ‘Land of Fire’ -

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. got an early welcome to the ways of City Hall in the week before he took the oath of office.

It came from the City Council he will serve with for the next two years.

63. Bass Pro Shows Signs of Continuing Interest in Pyramid -

John Morris, the founder of Springfield, Mo.-based retailer Bass Pro Shops, has traveled to Memphis three times in the past 90 days.

64. Lee Fees Caught in Legal Loop -

With the predictability of a boomerang, Joseph Lee’s legal fee situation never seems to go away and keeps coming back to where it started.

At the Memphis City Council meeting Aug. 18, the body is scheduled to approve Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division’s payment of more than $426,000 to the city of Memphis. That amount from the city-owned utility company is to reimburse the city what it recently paid to settle a lawsuit the former MLGW president and CEO filed last year.

65. Election Commission to Consider Mayoral Deadline -

The Shelby County Election Commission today is setting the stage for the next step in the coming special election for Memphis mayor.

The commission will meet at 4:30 p.m. to consider setting a deadline for candidates to file and a date for the election itself sometime in late October. In setting the dates, the commission would abide by terms of the Memphis Charter. The charter calls for a special election three months after a vacancy in the mayor’s office if there is no regularly scheduled election within six months of the date the office becomes vacant.

66. City Council Declares Mayoral Vacancy At End Of July -

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday on a 7-6 vote a resolution declaring the mayor’s office vacant as of July 31.

The vote came after a debate in which council members questioned each other’s motives, Mayor Willie Herenton’s word and several legal opinions.

67. UPDATE: Council Approves Mayoral Vacancy Effective July 31 -

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday on a 7-6 vote a resolution declaring the mayor’s office vacant as of July 31.

The vote came after a debate in which council members questioned each other’s motives, Mayor Willie Herenton’s word and several legal opinions.

68. UPDATE: Council Approves Transitional MSARC Funding -

The city’s tie to the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center isn’t completely severed yet, even though the city agency soon will be transferred to Shelby County and fall under the local health department.

69. Pyramid Funding Details Shift to Legal Front -

Now the attorneys begin drafting a contract.

This week, the Memphis City Council signed off on a three-part deal that gives the city of Memphis complete ownership of The Pyramid and continues city funding of the Shelby County Health Department for one more fiscal year.

70. Life After City Hall: The story behind Herenton’s Washington surprise -

You would think that Mayor Willie Herenton’s “resignation” last spring as he thought about trying out for Memphis City Schools superintendent would be difficult to top.

71. Pyramid-Health Dept. Deal Approved By Council -

Memphis City Council members Tuesday approved an $8.5 million deal giving the city complete ownership of The Pyramid and providing a last installment of city funding for the local Health Department.

72. City Council Approves Pyramid - Health Dept. Deal -

Memphis City Council members tonight approved an $8.5 million deal giving the city complete ownership of The Pyramid and providing a last installment of city funding for the local Health Department.

73. Turley Pushes For Progress On Fairgrounds -

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and fairgrounds developer Henry Turley met for about an hour in Herenton’s office Tuesday about the uncertain future of the project.

74. Events -

The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence will hold a workshop titled “Making the Message Work: Strategic Communications 101” today from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Alliance office, 5100 Poplar Ave., Suite 502. The facilitator will be Jennifer Leigh, who will discuss how to communicate effectively with members, donors and other constituents with a small marketing and communication budget. For more information or reservations, call 684-6605 or visit www.npexcellence.org.

75. Digital Billboards Under New Rules -

Almost two years ago, Clear Channel Outdoor brought to Memphis what outdoor advertising companies regard as the future of the industry.

It installed five digital billboards, high-tech structures that passing motorists might mistake for giant plasma TV screens mounted on poles.

76. Godwin Optimistic About Cop Policy -

In a month’s time, the debate about how to hire more Memphis police officers seems to bear out staying at least within Shelby County.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said this week that he expects to have a full complement of nearly 2,600 police officers by 2011.

77. Council Again Rejects Lee Legal Fees -

The Memphis City Council this evening affirmed its vote in Oct. to reject paying the legal fees of former Memphis Light Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

The bill for Lee’s legal defense in a grand jury probe that led to his indictment as well as a hearing before the council came to $426,422. The corruption charges were later dropped by federal prosecutors.

The 7-6 vote came at the end of a day in which MLGW president Jerry Collins told council members talks between the utility and Lee’s attorney, Robert Spence, failed to reach any terms for a lesser amount.

Council members voting against the proposed settlement were: Bill Boyd, Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, Myron Lowery, Bill Morrison and Jim Strickland. Those voting for it were: Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert and Barbara Swearengen Ware.

Spence told The Daily News an announcement on a decision by Lee about pursuing the legal fees in a lawsuit against the city could be made as early as Tuesday.

The council has also given final approval this evening to an ordinance regulating the location of financial services, payday loan and title loan businesses.

The council vote was unanimous on third and final reading. Third and final vote before the Shelby County Commission is scheduled for Dec. 8.

The council passed an amended version that emerged as a compromise during today’s council session.

The ordinance bans the businesses from being with 1,000 feet of each other. The compromise worked out by council member Bill Morrison, with agreement from the payday loan industry, deals with a 90 day grace period for existing businesses to apply for a waiver.

Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware argued the location of the businesses isn’t the problem. It’s the high interest rates the companies charge – up to 264 percent annually.

“We need to deal with the root of the problem,” she said. “And if we could regulate how much (of an) interest rate is charged or how much the fees are, then we would be doing a service to the community,” Ware said. “I know we mean well here, but it’s supply and demand that is driving these businesses.”

But usery rates are regulated by the state and not the city council.

Morrison said the businesses cluster in his district which covers Frayser and Raleigh. Frayser is among the areas of the city hardest hit by home foreclosures.

Council member Harold Collins, whose district includes Hickory Hill – also hit hard by home foreclosures – said there is a connection. He counted at least 20 pay day lenders along one stretch of Winchester.

“Maybe they’re not contributing to the fact that many of the people in my district are losing their homes. But they are sure out there,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of line drawn that will keep the people in Hickory Hill from losing their homes.”

Steve Lockwood, head of the Frayser Community Development Corporation, said the close proximity of the lenders allows people in desperate financial straits to get around a limit of two loans totaling $500 from a particular lender by simply going to the payday lender next door.

He termed the location limits “an opening shot across the bow.” He said his organization’s financial counselors see a connection between the lenders and foreclosures.

“I think that the neighborhoods that are really going to benefit from this are in Cordova,” Lockwood said. “If you want Cordova to look like Winchester or Frayser, don’t pass this.”

In other action, a Fairgrounds development agreement is tentatively set to have the first of three Memphis City Council votes in two weeks.

The city picked Fair Ground LLC to develop a master plan for the property that includes the Mid-South Coliseum, The Liberty Bowl and The Children’s Museum of Memphis. What is still being worked out is a contract with the terms for drawing up that master plan.

There are still several formidable obstacles to putting a development agreement in writing.

Shelby County government owns some of the Fairgrounds land including some of the land under The Liberty Bowl.

City Housing & Community Development director Robert Lipscomb told City Council members he will again pursue an agreement in which the county would sell its share in The Fairgrounds as well as The Pyramid.

The Shelby County Commission rejected such a sell-off by the county during consideration of a development agreement for The Pyramid involving Bass Pro Shops.

The commission eventually approved the development agreement after the agreement won approval from the city council.

Without a sell-off, the Fairgrounds development agreement appears on its way to the same dual track debate and voting process.

Lipscomb also told The Daily News there are conflicting legal opinions on the amount of public infrastructure financing the city would have to put up to leverage private investment.

He said the amounts vary from $75 million to $200 million. The city is seeking legal opinions on the public amount required under terms of Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) financing. If the amount is $200 million or close to it, Lipscomb said it makes the Fairgrounds renovation much harder to accomplish.

Henry Turley, one of several developer partners in Fair Ground LLC, said he considers the city’s contribution to be $75 million. Turley was instrumental in drafting the state legislation that allowed for the Tourism Development Zones.

The TDZs allow for financing of bonds through sales tax revenue generated in the designated area or zone.

Turley wants to include a big box retail store on the site and possibly a hotel according to tentative plans that are fluid on the location of those and other parts of an overall plan. The sales tax revenue from the store would go to pay off the TDZ bonds. No local government general fund revenue would be used.

...

78. Residency Decision Uncovers Underlying Attitudes -

It may have been the most important debate the Memphis City Council has had since the group of 13 took office in January. And it may affect the way council members see each other for quite some time.

79. Stretch In MPD Residency Requirement Rejected By Council On 6-7 Vote - Memphis City Council members Tuesday voted down a proposed loosening of residency requirements for police officers.

The 6-to-7 council vote rejected a resolution which would have allowed the police department to hire applicants who live within 20 miles of Shelby County.

The department is currently able to hire applicants who live within Shelby County including Memphis under a provision that allows the council to waive the requirement that all city employees must live in Memphis. The Shelby County waiver expires in February.

The council vote, which was along racial lines, came after four hours of debate among council members and citizens who filled the chambers. Most of the citizens who filled out cards to speak, over 70, were in favor of hiring outside Shelby County. But opponents, including several retired Memphis police officers, were also vocal in their opposition.

Council member Wanda Halbert argued that Memphians who apply for jobs as police officers are being rejected because they are being discriminated against.

Council member Bill Boyd termed Halbert's comment "trash".

Other council members said they respected council members with opposing viewpoints. But the disagreements were over issues other than the need to hire more police officers. They were over the best way to do that.

Those voting yes were: Boyd, Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, Bill Morrison and Jim Strickland.

Those voting no were: Halbert, Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Myron Lowery and Barbara Swearengen Ware.

Read more about the issue in Thursday's edition of The Daily News.

In other action, the council elected Myron Lowery as its chairman for 2009. Lowery has been chairman since the resignation of chairman Scott McCormick.

Council member Harold Collins was elected vice chairman for the coming year.

Tuesday was also the first council meeting for Kemp Conrad who was elected on the Nov. 4 ballot to fill the vacancy created by McCormick's resignation.

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80. Council Rejects Police Residency Stretch Outside Shelby County - Memphis City Council members have voted down a proposed loosening of residency requirements for police officers.

The 6-to-7 council vote rejected a resolution which would have allowed the police department to hire applicants who live within 20 miles of Shelby County.

The department is currently able to hire applicants who live within Shelby County including Memphis under a provision that allows the council to waive the requirement that all city employees must live in Memphis. The Shelby County waiver expires in February.

The council vote, which was along racial lines, came after four hours of debate among council members and citizens who filled the chambers. Most of the citizens who filled out cards to speak, over 70, were in favor of hiring outside Shelby County. But opponents, including several retired Memphis police officers, were also vocal in their opposition.

Council member Wanda Halbert argued that Memphians who apply for jobs as police officers are being rejected because they are being discriminated against.

Council member Bill Boyd termed Halbert's comment "trash".

Other council members said they respected council members with opposing viewpoints. But the disagreements were over issues other than the need to hire more police officers. They were over the best way to do that.

Those voting yes were: Boyd, Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, Bill Morrison and Jim Strickland.

Those voting no were: Halbert, Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Myron Lowery and Barbara Swearengen Ware.

...

81. Council Could Revisit Lee’s Legal Bill Payment -

The Memphis City Council has a chance next week to reconsider its decision not to pay more than $426,000 in legal fees incurred by former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee.

82. Lee’s Legal Fees Suit Could Surface Again -

It was one year ago this week that nine new members were elected to the Memphis City Council.

It was the largest turnover of seats on the 13-member body in its 40-year history.

This week, the council had its most serious difference of opinion to date over a controversy that began onthe watch of the previous council. And it was one of the previous council members that made the difference in the outcome.

83. Commission to Consider Selling Arenas -

Members of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners are set to vote today on selling the county’s share of The Pyramid, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the Mid-South Coliseum.

Passage of the resolution would take county government out of the pending deal for Bass Pro Shops to develop The Pyramid as a super store and the site of other attractions.

84. Mall Purchase Idea Spurs Further Debate -

It would be called the Southeast Satellite Multiplex. The new name is not as snappy as Hickory Ridge Mall, but it does fit the government facility the Herenton administration proposes to retrofit into the mall severely damaged by a tornado in February.

85. Lipscomb: Bass Pro Deal Could Slip Away -

The clock is ticking on the Bass Pro Shops deal for The Pyramid, said the Herenton administration’s point man in negotiations with the outdoor retailer.

But Robert Lipscomb stopped short this week of saying Bass Pro executives are ready to walk away from the deal to build a super store in The Pyramid as well as other attractions.

86. Midtown Neighborhood Spared ‘Large Apartment Complex’ -

It was a question of zoning versus a covenant.

This past week at City Hall, the Memphis City Council sided with restricted covenants in a Midtown neighborhood.

Evergreen Living Center LLC, a church-related nonprofit organization, wanted to build a multistory, 117-unit apartment development for people 55 and older.

87. Motel Project Causes Council Tension -

When Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton shows up in the City Council’s committee room, it usually means he wants to make a point – maybe several.

This week, Herenton took the elevator from his office down two floors and waited his turn before the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee to protest plans for a hotel in the inner city neighborhood where he grew up.

88. Special Election Filing Deadline Approaches -

The Nov. 4 ballot will move a step closer to completion this week with Thursday’s noon filing deadline for candidates in the special Memphis City Council election and the races for five of the nine Memphis school board positions.

89. Bass Pro Moves Closer to Memphis Reality -

Bass Pro Shops officials say they are ready to sign on the dotted line to start the planning process for the return of The Pyramid to public use.

But Shelby County government is looking again at getting out of The Pyramid as the city government’s partner.

90. Pre Development Agreement Announced In Bass Pro Contract Talks -

The joint city county Pyramid reuse committee was told Thursday afternoon that Bass Pro Shops has agreed “in word and deed” to what the committee’s attorney described as a “pre development agreement.”

91. Tentative Pact In Bass Pro Pyramid Contract Talks -

The joint city county Pyramid reuse committee was told Thursday afternoon that Bass Pro Shops has agreed “in word and deed” to what the committee’s attorney described as a “pre development agreement.”

92. Reopening of Shuttered Motel Delayed by City Council -

It’s been four months since Royal Inn & Suites, a motel in the 3600 block of American Way, was closed by a court order as a public nuisance, along with three other hourly rate motels. A month ago, the contents of the motel with a history of prostitution and drug arrests were auctioned as part of the terms of the final court order after its owner admitted in court the motel was a public nuisance.

93. MPD Gains As Council Weighs Recruiting Future -

The Memphis Police Department grew last week, as 50 new police officers took the oath and received their badges in a ceremony at World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Hickory Hill.

The graduation of the 99th class of recruits since formal police training began in 1937 comes as police brass and city leaders continue to talk about the goal of a police force totaling 2,500 men and women in blue.

94. Council Rejects Billboard Developer With Ford Trial Ties -

One of the potential witnesses in this week’s federal corruption trial of former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford remains a lightning rod for criticism among current council members.

The council last week rejected plans for a 48-acre industrial warehouse development near Memphis International Airport from landowner and billboard developer William H. Thomas Jr. They did so because there is a prevailing mood among council members that he does not play by the rules in his dealings with the city.

95. Bodies Politick Shift Pyramid Finance Issue To Third Parties -

Two accounting and public finance companies have been hired to look over the finances of the two companies vying for use of The Pyramid.

Taking on the two firms became a necessary next step in the political process of figuring out a new use for The Pyramid after a lopsided recommendation by the Herenton administration in favor of Bass Pro Shops over the Ericson Group.

96. Debate Over Police Residency Intensifies -

The Herenton administration's budget proposal isn't the only numbers game under way at City Hall as City Council Budget Committee hearings begin today.

As those hearings continue into May, the council again will debate the best way to up the numbers of Memphis Police officers.

97. Being a Real Pro Is a State Of Mind, Johnson Says -

University of Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson admits the attention Tigers athletics gets is out of proportion to what it probably deserves given other nonsports accomplishments at the university.

98. Stateline Road DevelopmentDelayed in City Council -      Developer William H. Thomas Jr. has put on hold a planned development at Stateline Road and Airways Boulevard.
     The three-week delay in Memphis City Council approval came Tuesday because

99. Rasberry Lobbies To Build On 'Underground' Lot -

To longtime Memphians, the lot on the northeast corner of McLean Boulevard and Cowden Avenue is known as the "underground house" because of its architecture. That's even though the strikingly modern house surrounded by mounds and bushes and shrubs has been just a memory for two years and counting.

100. Attorney General To Defend Strip Club Ordinance -

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper will help defend the Shelby County ordinance governing Memphis strip clubs in U.S. District Court.

Cooper's office filed a motion Monday to intervene on the side of the city and county in the case filed by seven strip club owners. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the ordinance as well as the state law on which the ordinance is based.