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Editorial Results (free)

1. Automakers Aim to Drive Away Car Computer Hackers -

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Against the team of hackers, the poor car stood no chance.

Meticulously overwhelming its computer networks, the hackers showed that – given time – they would be able to pop the trunk and start the windshield wipers, cut the brakes or lock them up, and even kill the engine.

2. Young Volunteers Face Long Odds at Oklahoma -

Two games into the 2014 season, and it’s time for the University of Tennessee to play some big-boy football.

The Vols (2-0) took care of business at Neyland Stadium in the first two games against Utah State and Arkansas State.

3. Education Secretary Calls for System-Wide Reforms -

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan saw much that he liked in Memphis Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the end of his three-day “back to school” bus tour of schools in three states.

The last stop was Cornerstone Prep Elementary School in Binghampton.

4. Duncan Bus Tour Ends With Binghampton Kudos -

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrapped up a three-day “back to school” bus tour of schools in several states Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Cornerstone Prep Elementary School in Binghampton.

5. Democratic Divide Widens in Election Results -

Democrats have retained their seven-vote majority on the new single-district Shelby County Commission that takes office Sept. 1.

That and the re-election victory of Democratic incumbent Cheyenne Johnson in the race for Shelby County Assessor of Property were the only bright spots for a divided local Democratic Party that lost every other countywide partisan elected position to Republicans in the Aug. 7 county general election, just as they lost every countywide position to Republicans four years earlier.

6. Cohen Prevails, Incumbents Dominate -

Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen held off Thursday, Aug. 7, the most serious electoral challenge he’s faced since winning the Congressional seat in 2006, in the form of attorney Ricky E. Wilkins.

7. Brooks' Attorneys Claim Different Address -

Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks still lives in her district but at a different address than the one she listed on numerous records, including her recent arrest report, according to her attorneys.

8. Malone to Challenge Luttrell In August Mayoral Showdown -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone will challenge incumbent Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in the August county general election after winning the Tuesday, May 6, Democratic mayoral primary.

9. Fundraising Help for Orchestra Continues -

The Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $25,000 for the financially struggling Memphis Symphony Orchestra has beaten its goal, pulling in a little more than $28,500.

That’s one example among many of how, once the orchestra’s dire straits became known earlier this year, supporters have been lining up to come to the rescue. And more chances for the public to help are still to come.

10. Harris Files Ford Challenge at Deadline -

Memphis City Council member Lee Harris is challenging Democratic state Sen. Ophelia Ford in the August primary for District 29, the Senate seat held by a member of the Ford family since 1975.

11. Filing Frenzy -

Until Tuesday, no one was running for the District 7 seat on the Shelby County Schools board. No one had pulled a qualifying petition from the Shelby County Election Commission until just two days before the filing deadline for candidates on the August election ballot.

12. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August -

One of the six Shelby County Commission incumbents seeking re-election this year was effectively elected to a new four-year term in a new district with the noon Thursday, Feb. 20, filing deadline for candidates in the May county primaries.

13. Whalum, Harvey Pull Petitions for Mayor’s Race -

Shelby County Commission Chairman James Harvey and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. have pulled qualifying petitions to run in the May Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor.

14. Whalum, Harvey Pull Petitions for Mayor’s Race -

Shelby County Commission Chairman James Harvey and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. have pulled qualifying petitions to run in the May Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor.

15. Commission to Have New Faces in 2014 -

When Shelby County Commissioners said farewell to one of their own this week at the commission’s last meeting of 2013, it was the latest in a series of changes that will remake the 13-member body by this time next year.

16. County Commission’s Partisan, Personal Divide Resurfaces -

As Shelby County Commissioners were asking some pretty pointed questions Monday, Sept. 9, of those vying for an appointment to the countywide school board, Commissioner Heidi Shafer told Shante Avant, one of the contenders, “We’re not as scary as we seem.”

17. Commission Appoints Avant To School Board, Keeps Shafer As Budget Chair -

Shelby County Commissioners appointed Shante Avant, a mother who has worked for the Women’s Foundation and other local nonprofits for 17 years, as the newest members of the countywide school board.

18. Commission Appoints Avant To School Board, Keeps Shafer As Budget Chair -

Shelby County Commissioners appointed Shante Avant, a mother who has worked for the Women’s Foundation and other local nonprofits for 17 years, as the newest members of the countywide school board.

19. Getting Focused -

Some of my clients tell me they wonder if it’s even possible to get focused nowadays with the constant onslaught of life-distracting things and events. First of all, I think the realistic answer to this question falls in the category of Henry Ford’s famous statement, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

20. Commission Tries Again to Set County Tax Rate -

Shelby County Commissioners try again Monday, July 22, to set a county property tax rate for the fiscal year that began July 1.

And they will start consideration of the issue with a proposed $4.38 tax rate backed by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell on the second of three readings.

21. City Welcomes New Grizzlies Owner Pera -

Before founding the company he runs today, Ubiquiti Networks Inc., 34-year-old Robert Pera worked at Apple Inc., where he was a hardware engineer.

22. Rekindling Crosstown -

Video artist Chris Miner says one way to explain the redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown building is likening it to the process of creating art.

“You get into it with a general idea of what you want to do, but then you kind of let it take you wherever you are going to go or wherever the piece wants to go,” he said.

23. Race to the Finish -

Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey walked into the storefront at the Carrefour shopping center earlier this month and liked what he saw of the local effort for the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket.

24. Ritz Settles In as Commission Chairman -

Shelby County Commissioners had some new seating arrangements and committee assignments Monday, Sept. 10, as commissioner Mike Ritz began his yearlong term as chairman of the body.

Former chairman and Democrat Sidney Chism was seated next to former chairman pro tempore and Republican Wyatt Bunker.

25. Council To Consider Gas Tax Increase -

Memphis City Council members vote Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the third and final reading of a proposed local gasoline tax that would go to Memphis voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

26. Muni Schools Questions Pass, Cohen Wins Big -

Voters in each of the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County approved establishing municipal school districts in the unofficial results of the Thursday, Aug. 2, county general and state and federal primary elections.

27. After 21 Rounds of Voting, Still no Commission Chair -

Shelby County Commissioners put off electing a chairman for the next year’s term Monday, July 16, after 21 rounds of voting in which no one got seven votes.

The commission will try again at its July 30 meeting.

28. Numerous Issues Drive Early Voting -

Republicans have the suburban ballot questions on municipal school districts. Democrats have outrage over the voter photo ID state law.

Together the two factors could have more to do with voter turnout in the Aug. 2 elections than any of the candidates on the ballot.

29. A Simple Question -

Recently I read something that prompted a very simple but important question: Who are the 10 most important people in my business life? Do you know who they are in your life? It’s a simple question, but I realized I didn’t know the answer.

30. General Sessions Contenders Seek Changes to Office -

On a hot Saturday afternoon in Whitehaven, more than 100 people crammed themselves into an air-conditioned storefront to boost the bid by General Sessions Court Clerk Ed Stanton Jr. to remain the clerk of Shelby County’s largest civil court.

31. Millington Candidates File for August Election -

The field for Millington mayor in that city’s Aug. 2 nonpartisan general election is three candidates following last week’s filing deadline.

It includes former Mayor Terry Jones, who lost a re-election bid four years ago to Richard Hodges; Kenneth Uselton and Debra Sigee.

32. Cohen-Hart in Congressional Race at Filing Deadline -

The chairman of the countywide school board, Billy Orgel, was effectively elected to his District 7 school board seat without opposition at the Thursday, April 5, filing deadline for candidates on the Aug. 2 primary and general election ballot in Shelby County.

33. Commission Redistricting Moves to Final Vote -

The Shelby County Commission’s overtime deliberations on redistricting have pulled in elements of other political issues.

There was a move to oust Sidney Chism as chairman and scramble the commission’s already tentative party line divisions. There was the suburban versus urban dynamic and even an intra-party dispute among Republicans on the commission.

34. County Commission - Luttrell Clash on Urgency of School Transfer Rules -

Shelby County Commissioners approved Friday, Feb. 10, a resolution authorizing Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to negotiate with the countywide school board on the terms of a transfer of school buildings in the event suburban municipal school districts are formed.

35. YMCA Announces Board Members -

YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South has installed its 2012 metropolitan board of directors.

Sandra Bailey of Methodist Extended Care Hospital will serve as board chair; Ted Ferris of the Greater Memphis Chamber will serve as secretary; and Perry Green of Waddell and Associates Inc. will serve as treasurer.

36. Commission Looks at Power Realignment -

For three months, a split among the six Republicans on the 13-member Shelby County Commission has been more evident than the split among the seven Democratic commissioners.

As the commission started over this week on the redistricting process that highlighted the Republican rift, however, the split has evolved into a realignment of political power on the body.

37. Commission Strife Deepens with Censure, Ouster Moves -

A deadlock among Shelby County Commission members on a redistricting plan moved into uncharted and roiling political waters Wednesday, Jan. 18, with a censure resolution and a possible move to oust Sidney Chism as chairman of the body.

38. Commission Strife Deepens with Censure, Ouster Moves -

A deadlock among Shelby County Commission members on a redistricting plan moved into uncharted and roiling political waters Wednesday, Jan. 18, with a censure resolution and a possible move to oust Sidney Chism as chairman of the body.

39. County Redistricting Goes to Court -

Three Shelby County commissioners – one Democrat and two Republicans – filed suit against the full commission Tuesday, Jan. 3, over the body's stalled deliberations on a redistricting plan.

40. Commissioners Fail to Approve Redistricting Plan -

Shelby County Commissioners will try again Monday, Dec. 19, to give final approval to a new set of district lines for the 13-member body.

At a special meeting Wednesday, Dec. 14, a new set of district lines that would keep but tweak the current five-district setup won approval on the second of three readings. But it did not appear to have the two-thirds majority – or nine votes – needed to pass next week.

41. Commissioners Fail to Approve Redistricting Plan -

Shelby County Commissioners will try again Monday, Dec. 19, to give final approval to a new set of district lines for the 13-member body.

At a special meeting Wednesday, Dec. 14, a new set of district lines that would keep but tweak the current five-district setup won approval on the second of three readings. But it did not appear to have the two-thirds majority – or nine votes – needed to pass next week.

42. Retail Sales are Helping Economy Grow Consistently -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Economic growth is picking up in the final three months of the year, fueled by higher consumer spending, rising business stockpiles and modest increases in hiring.

The start of the holiday shopping season in November helped produce the sixth straight monthly increase in retail sales. Gift-buying Americans spent more on clothing and electronics, and sales of autos and furniture also rose.

43. Terms of Consolidation Still Taking Shape -

There is still some uncertainty about the exact terms of the transition to a consolidated countywide school board.

And that was reflected in questions preceding this week’s appointments to the board that takes office Oct. 1.

44. County Commission Completes New School Board -

Shelby County Commissioners made seven appointments Monday, Sept. 12, to the new countywide school board that takes office Oct. 1.

The appointment process completes a 23-member board that is to take office Oct. 1 with the seven appointees joining the nine current Memphis City Schools board members and the seven current Shelby County Schools board members.

45. Jackson Indicted for Official Misconduct -

General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson has been indicted on four state charges of official misconduct.

46. Leadership Memphis Announces Board Members -

Leadership Memphis has announced new board members and officers for its new fiscal year.

The officers and executive committee include Eric Robertson, chair; Beverly Jordan, vice chair; Bryan Ford, treasurer; Veronica Coleman Davis, secretary; Chris McLean, immediate past chair; Jeff Gaudino, alumni chair; Christine Munson, development chair; Lemoyne Robinson, program chair; and Jeane Chapman, marketing chair.

47. The Day Before Vacation -

It’s that time of year for many of us, time for summer vacation. Many people do something highly unusual as their vacation time approaches. You might think they would prematurely shift into island time and slack off a bit. But that is not what most people do. They do just the opposite. They get hyper-focused, organized and productive. They, as they say, “Bring their A-game to work,” especially on the day before their vacation begins. What is going on? Why don’t they do this all the time?

48. Commission Approves Balanced Budget -

No county property tax hike. No 2 percent pay raise for county employees. The full $400,000 in funding for the county office of early childhood and youth, and no cuts in funding to the Greater Memphis Chamber or Shelby Farms Park.

49. County Commission Tightens Attorney-Client Rules -

The Shelby County Commission could keep legal documents out of the hands of some of its own members if they talk to the public about what happens in closed attorney-client meetings.

The commission passed the resolution Monday establishing that and other sanctions including censure that would have to be enacted with a majority vote.

50. Commission Rejects Paid Leave Restrictions -

Shelby County commissioners were short of the votes Monday to specifically prohibit county employees from getting paid leave for Christmas shopping days or in exchange for donating blood and other charity work.

51. GM Says it No Longer Needs Gov't Loan to go Green -

WASHINGTON (AP) – General Motors, in another sign of its progress since a government-led bankruptcy, said Thursday it is withdrawing its application for $14.4 billion in federal loans it had sought to help build more fuel-efficient cars.

52. Investors' Return to US Stocks Could be too Late -

BOSTON (AP) — Investors are finally inching back into the stock market. But are they too late?

While millions sought refuge in traditionally stable bonds over the past two years, they missed a more than 90 percent rally in stocks. Suddenly bonds don't look so safe, and some of the $11 trillion that Americans have parked in mutual funds is shifting back to stocks.

53. County Commission Spars Over PILOT Rules For Suburbs -

Shelby County Commissioners sparred over how much oversight is too much when it comes to awarding tax breaks for corporate and industrial moves to Shelby County and expansions of existing businesses.

54. County Commission Off To Partisan, Lively Start -

Shelby County Commissioners found plenty to debate during their first meeting as a body since six new commissioners took office Sept. 1.

Monday’s session saw the election of Democrat Sidney Chism as the chairman of the 13 member body for the next year.

55. DiScenza Retires; To Investigate Judicial Conduct -

The federal prosecutor whose job was to investigate corruption among elected officials is going to be investigating the conduct of judges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza announced this week that he is retiring after 33 years as a federal prosecutor at the end of June.

56. GM Rides Cost Cuts, New Model Sales to Q1 Profit -

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. rode expense cuts from its bankruptcy and strong sales of redesigned models to its first quarterly net income in nearly three years, drawing the company closer to a stock offering that would repay at least part of its government aid.

57. Ford Wins Democratic Mayoral Primary -  

Interim County Mayor Joe Ford became the Democratic nominee for mayor in the August county general elections Tuesday night.

And the August sheriff’s race will be a contest between Democrat Randy Wade and Republican Randy Wade.

All three were among the winners in Tuesday’s low turnout county primaries.

Approximately ten percent of Shelby County’s nearly 600,000 voters cast ballots in early voting and election day polling.

Ford, who was appointed interim mayor in December, beat County Commissioner Deidre Malone and General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson in the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Mark Luttrell who had only token opposition in the Republican primary from perennial contender Ernie Lunati.

Luttrell has raised more money than all three of the Democratic primary contenders combined and began running television ads in the last week runup to election day.

The final unofficial totals in the Democratic mayoral primary are:

Ford 20,360 57%

Malone 12,916 37%

Jackson 2,168 6%

The pair of primaries for Sheriff featured eight candidates, seven of whom either currently work for the sheriff’s department or are past employees. Only Reginald French, in the Democratic primary was not a former or current department official.

Wade was the 2002 Democratic nominee, losing to Luttrell who is leaving as Sheriff after serving two terms. French was the Democratic nominee in the 2006 elections.

Oldham is Luttrell’s chief deputy, the number two position in the department. He is also a former director of the Memphis Police Department.

The final unofficials totals in the Republican primary are:

Bill Oldham 13,821 48%

Dale Lane 7,981 28%

Bobby Simmons 5,886 21%

James Coleman 943 3%

In the Democratic primary:

Randy Wade 22,643 67%

Reginald French 6,777 20%

Larry Hill 2,738 8%

Bennie Cobb 1,814 5%

Voters in the primary elections decided to return six Shelby County commissioners to new four year terms with Tuesday’s results. They also elected six new commissioners. The winner of the thirteenth commission seat will be decided on the August general election ballot in a contest between district 5 Democratic incumbent Steve Mulroy and Republican challenger Dr. Rolando Toyos. The winner of the match up will determine whether the commission remains majority Democrat or goes majority Republican.

Mulroy easily defeated Jennings Bernard in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Republican incumbent Mike Ritz ran unopposed as did new Democratic commissioner Walter Bailey.

In the remaining ten contests, the primaries decided who gets the seats since no one ran in the opposing party’s primary.

The most hotly contested contest among the commission races was for District 4 Position 1. Outgoing Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas beat John Pellicciotti, appointed to a commission seat last year but running for a different position in the same district. Jim Bomprezzi, the former mayor of Lakeland, was the third contender in the contest.

The final unofficial totals in the Republican primary:

Thomas 7,631 52%

Pellicciotti 4,871 33%

Bomprezzi 2,298 15%

In position 2 of the same district incumbent Republican Wyatt Bunker easily overcame two challengers with former Lakeland alderman John Wilkerson finishing second and Ron Fittes finishing third.

Millington businessman Terry Roland claimed the third position in the district that takes in all six of Shelby County’s suburban towns and cities.

Roland beat George Chism to take the seat Pellicciotti was appointed to but opted not to run for in deference to Roland.

Heidi Shafer, an aide to outgoing County Commissioner George Flinn, claimed Flinn’s District 1 Position 2 seat over Albert Maduska.in the GOP primary.

District 1 incumbent Republican Mike Carpenter easily beat businessman Joe Baier.

In the Democratic commission primaries, Melvin Burgess claimed Malone’s District 2 Position 3 seat in a field of six contenders. His closest contender was Reginald Milton. Burgess, a city school system audit manager, had run for the seat before. He brought in 54 percent of the vote.

The other hard fought Democratic commission primary saw Justin Ford, son of the interim mayor, claim his father’s District 3 Position 3 seat.

Ford beat Edith Moore, a retired IBM executive, whom the commission appointed to the seat after the elder Ford became mayor.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Ford 7,342 66%

Moore 3,822 34%

Democratic incumbent commissioners Henri Brooks, Sidney Chism and James Harvey were all re-elected over primary challengers.

The county-wide primaries for seven clerk’s positions saw the return of former Criminal Court Clerk Minerva Johnican 16 years after Republican challenger Bill Key took her job. Johnican decisively beat Ralph White and Vernon Johnson in her first bid for office since the 1994 defeat. She will face Republican Kevin Key, the son of Bill Key in the August general election.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Johnican 16,381 51%

White 10,170 31%

Johnson 5,954 18%

Former Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Wilbun easily won the Democratic primary with 76 percent of the vote to face Republican Joy Touliatos in August for the office being vacated by Republican Steve Stamson. Touliatos was unopposed in the primary.

Democrat Coleman Thompson is back for another go at incumbent Republican Register Tom Leatherwood.

Aside from Leatherwood, Jimmy Moore is the only other of the seven clerks seeking re-election. Moore ran unopposed in the GOP primary. He will face Democrat Ricky Dixon in August.

Trustee Regina Newman was appointed to her office following the death last year of Paul Mattila. Newman easily overcame M LaTroy Williams in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. She will face David Lenoir, who beat former Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham in the Republican contest.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Lenoir 15,922 58%

Willingham 11,569 42%

The other six candidate field on the ballot was in the Democratic primary for Probate Court Clerk. Sondra Becton posted impressive vote totals over her rivals, bringing in 35 percent of the vote with Peggy Dobbins her closest rival. Becton, who is making her fourth bid for the office, will face Republican Paul Boyd, who ran unopposed in his primary.

The final unofficial vote totals are:

Becton 10,929 36%

Dobbins 5,366 18%

Annita Hamilton 4,848 16%

Clay Perry 3,549 12%

Danny Kail 3,120 11%

Karen Tyler 2,782 9%

The closest contest of the evening was in the Democratic primary for County Clerk. Wrestling promoter and television personality Corey Maclin won his political debut by less than 1,400 votes over Charlotte Draper and LaKeith Miller. He will face Republican Wayne Mashburn who beat Steve Moore in the companion primary.

Early voting in advance of the Aug. 5 election day begins July 16. The August ballot will also feature state and federal primary elections including the statewide primaries for governor and the primaries for all nine of the state’s Congressional districts.

...

58. Events -

Talk Shoppe will present “Make Your Business Productive Using Workplace Magic” with Chris Crouch Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the second-floor conference room of the Community Bank Building, 6465 N. Quail Hollow Road. For more information, call Jo Garner at 482-0354.

59. Events -

United Way of the Mid-South will host a discussion about the media’s role in times of crisis and disaster Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the University Center on the University of Memphis campus. Carel Pedre, general manager of Radio One from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, will speak at 11 a.m. For reservations, e-mail loretta.hurt@uwmidsouth.org or call 433-4335.

60. Largely Misunderstood, Probate Work Still Sought After -

It is the smallest office of the clerk’s positions on the May 5 primary ballot.

But because the Probate Court Clerk’s Office and the court's two divisions deal primarily with wills and estates, it might be the one office that begins with the simplest mission.

61. Commission Races Hinge on Public Issues -

Two issues figure in to the 11 competitive races for the Shelby County Commission – the future of the Regional Medical Center and local government consolidation.

Any push card for a credible candidate includes either something about how to save The MED or the candidate’s opposition to consolidation – or both.

62. Candidates Battle it Out in Democratic Primary -

Before voters get to the slimmer, trimmer Aug. 5 race for Shelby County mayor, some of them must decide the three-candidate Democratic primary on the May 4 ballot.

As political races go, this one has enough drama to make it interesting.

63. Charter Commission Tackles Tricky Political Rules -  

Members of the Metro Charter Commission are getting into some of the thorniest political issues involved in writing the blueprint for a consolidated city and county government.

At least for now, term limits, runoff elections, being current on metro taxes to qualify to run for office and a referendum for any metro council pay raise are in.

Out, at this tentative stage, is the idea of a vice mayor, staggered terms for council members, a city pension for council members and partisan primaries.

All of the proposals approved last week go to a drafting committee. The committee will write charter language and then come back to the full commission with the wording. The charter group will then take a final vote on the general proposal and the charter wording.

Still to be discussed is how big the metro council would be and what the districts would look like.

The charter commission also delayed votes on proposals to:

  • Fill vacancies on the metro council with a majority vote of the council unless it is a vacancy of more than two years. In that case, the vacant council seat would go on the next available election ballot.
  • Making the council chairman the “mayor pro tempore” if the mayor resigns or otherwise leaves office. The mayor pro tempore would serve for up to 180 days if there is a general or municipal election scheduled during that period. If no election is scheduled, a special election for mayor would be held within 90 days of the vacancy.

The delay came after lots of debate, with more debate certain.

“Is there any other way?” Charter Commission Chairwoman Julie Ellis asked at one point. “It just hasn’t looked like a very good system. … The public has had a lot to say about this, and it’s not been kind.”

Commissioner J.W. Gibson termed it a system of “hard knocks,” pointing out that part of the Shelby County Commission’s dilemma in picking an interim mayor last year was that it required seven votes – a majority of the 13 members – which proved difficult to collect with three commissioners not voting, because they had been nominated for interim mayor.

Gibson, who is a county commissioner, was one of the contenders. He lost to fellow commissioner Joe Ford.

Charter commissioner Randolph Meade Walker proposed not allowing the mayor pro tempore to run in a special election.

“An interim who is an insider is appointed by fellow insiders,” Walker said. “I think a major drawback to this whole area has been an exclusivity in government that we have people who are the same folks that keep playing musical chairs. We need some new ideas – some new people.”

Gibson, however, said it might mean a council member who wants to be chairman as a later stepping stone to serving as mayor might have to give up being chairman.

Meanwhile, commissioner Chris Patterson expanded on Walker’s idea by adding that those appointed to fill vacant council seats could not seek the seat in the next election for that seat.

Charter commissioner and Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland headed the task force that presented the recommendations. He wasn’t surprised by the debate on the 25 items.

“There are legitimate differences of opinion,” he told The Daily News at the end of the three-hour session. “The county’s been through three mayors in the last year. The city’s been through three mayors also. … The average person has been very aware of the process.”

Ellis questioned whether the metro council should have staggered terms with half of the members elected every two years.

Eight new county commissioners were elected to that 13-member body in the 2006 elections.

Before those political precedents, most council and commission seats changed hands because an incumbent decided not to seek re-election. That was also the case in the 2006 and 2007 election cycles.

The proposed charter is due by mid-August.

Voters decide whether to accept or reject the charter in a pair of referenda on the November ballot. It must win in the referendum within the city of Memphis as well as the referendum in Shelby County outside the Memphis city limits.

...

64. Jackson Brings ‘Balanced Leadership’ to Mayor’s Race -

The surprise candidate in the race for Shelby County mayor said Monday he had been considering a bid for the job for the past 10 years.

General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson checked out his qualifying petition for the May 4 Democratic primary Thursday morning and filed before the noon deadline.

65. County Primary Fields Clear Up -

The newest candidate for Shelby County mayor is scheduled to talk about his decision later today.

General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson was a last-minute filer in the Democratic primary for mayor at noon Thursday. Jackson’s decision was the biggest surprise at the deadline.

66. Candidate Filing List -- The Final Version -

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell appeared on his way to the Republican nomination for Shelby County mayor at Thursday’s noon filing deadline for candidates on the May 4 primary ballot.

67. UPDATE: Mayor's Race Grows At Filing Deadline -

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell appeared on his way to the Republican nomination for Shelby County mayor at Thursday’s noon filing deadline for candidates on the May 4 primary ballot.

Luttrell faces only token opposition from perennial candidate Ernie Lunati.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for mayor grew to three contenders as General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson filed his qualifying petition just before the deadline. He joins interim County Mayor Joe Ford and Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone.

Luttrell ruled out a bid for Shelby County mayor last year (2009). But when Harold Byrd decided not to run in the Democratic primary, some local GOP leaders asked Luttrell to reconsider.

The result touched off a scramble of candidates from both parties for the open sheriff’s office. But before the noon deadline, the initial field of over a dozen possible contenders was narrowed to ten – six Democrats and four Republicans.

The other surprise at the filing deadline was the return of attorney Walter Bailey to the District 2 Position 1 seat he gave up in the 2006 elections. Bailey sought re-election then to another term despite a two term limit on commissioners. Bailey lost to J.W. Gibson who decided not to seek re-election. He also lost a court fight to overturn the term limits.

Bailey was the only candidate who had filed for the seat at the Thursday deadline.

Only one incumbent county commissioner – Republican Mike Ritz -- was effectively re-elected at the deadline because he had no opposition.

All but one of the eleven contested County Commission races will be decided with the May 4 primaries. The only general election battle for the August ballot is the district 5 contest between GOP challenger Dr. Rolando Toyos and whoever wins the May Democratic primary between incumbent Steve Mulroy and Jennings Bernard.

Former County Commissioner John Willingham also returned to the ballot among a field of Republican contenders in the primary for Shelby County Trustee.

And former Criminal Court Clerk Minerva Johnican joined the Democratic primary field for her old job. Incumbent Republican Bill Key pulled petition to seek re-election but did not file at the deadline.

Here is the list of races and contenders from The Shelby County Election Commission. All candidate have until noon Feb. 25 to withdraw from the ballot if they wish.

D-Democrat

R- Republican

I- Independent

Shelby County Mayor:

Deidre Malone (D)

Joe Ford (D)

Otis Jackson (D)

Mark Luttrell (R)

Ernest Lunati (R)

Leo Awgowhat (I)

Shelby County Sheriff:

James Coleman (R)

Bobby Simmons (R)

Bill Oldham (R)

Dale Lane (R)

Larry Hill (D)

Bennie Cobb (D)

Randy Wade (D)

James Bolden (D)

Elton Hymon (D)

Reginald French (D)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 1

Mike Ritz (R) (incumbent)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 2

Albert Maduska (R)

Heidi Shafer (R)

County Commission Dist 1 Pos 3

Mike Carpenter (R) (incumbent)

Joe Baire (R)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 1

Walter Bailey (D)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 2

Henri Brooks (D) (incumbent)

David Vinciarelli (D)

County Commission Dist 2 Pos 3

Eric Dunn (D)

Norma Lester (D)

Tina Dickerson (D)

Melvin Burgess (D)

Reginald Milton (D)

Freddie Thomas (D)

County Commission Dist 3 Pos 1

James Harvey (D) (incumbent)

James Catchings (D)

County Commission Dist. 3 Pos 2

Sidney Chism (D) (incumbent)

Andrew "Rome" Withers (D)

County Commission Dist. 3 Pos 3

Edith Moore  (D) (incumbent)

Justin Ford (D)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 1

Chris Thomas (R)

John Pellicciotti (R)

Jim Bomprezzi (R)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 2

Wyatt Bunker (R) (incumbent)

John Wilkerson (R)

Ron Fittes (R)

County Commission Dist 4 Pos 3

Terry Roland (R)

George Chism (R)

Edgar Babian (R)

County Commission Dist 5

Steve Mulroy (D) (incumbent)

Jennings Bernard (D)

Rolando Toyos (R)

Shelby County Clerk

Charlotte Draper (D)

Corey Maclin (D)

LaKeith Miller (D)

Wayne Mashburn (R)

Steve Moore (R)

Criminal Court Clerk

Vernon Johnson (D)

Minerva Johnican (D)

Ralph White (D)

Michael Porter (R)

Kevin Key (R)

Jerry Stamson (I)

Circuit Court Clerk

Jimmy Moore (R) (incumbent)

Steven Webster (D)

Carmichael Johnson (D)

Ricky W. Dixon (D)

Juvenile Court Clerk

Joy Touliatos (R)

Charles Marshall (D)

Sylvester Bradley (D)

Shep Wilbun (D)

Julia Roberson Wiseman (I)

Probate Court Clerk

Paul Boyd (R)

Sondra Becton (D)

Danny Kail (D)

Annita Sawyer Hamilton (D)

Peggy Dobbins (D)

Clay Perry (D)

Karen Tyler (D)

Shelby County Register

Tom Leatherwood (R) (incumbent)

Coleman Thompson (D)

Lady J. Swift (D)

Carlton Orange (D)

Shelby County Trustee

Regina Newman (D) (incumbent)

M. LaTroy Williams (D)

John Willingham (R)

Jeff Jacobs (R)

David Lenoir (R)

...

68. Surprises Possible as Primary Filing Deadline Nears -

Although today marks the filing deadline for the May 4 Shelby County primaries and independent candidates on the Aug. 5 county general election ballot, plenty of political drama remains.

In fact, the filing deadline is often just as important – and surprising – as election day.

69. Visible School Names Ellis To Modern Music Ministry Faculty -

Bill Ellis has been hired to the Visible School faculty in the Modern Music Ministry program.

Ellis will teach guitar, the history of pop music and hands-on courses in world music and ethnomusicology.

70. Once-Embattled Wilbun to Run for Juvenile Court Clerk -

The invitations urged political supporters to “Return Shep Wilbun” to the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk’s office.

At a club on South Main Street this month as FedExForum began to fill up a few blocks away, Wilbun hosted an evening fundraiser at $100 a head. It drew State Reps. Ulysses Jones, Larry Miller and Joe Towns as well as Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy.

71. Commission to Revisit Charter Appointments Today -

Approving mayoral appointments to boards and commissions is usually the quickest part of the Shelby County Commission’s agenda. It’s normally a routine vote.

That won’t be the case today.

The commission will meet this afternoon starting at 1:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building Downtown. A full agenda for the meeting is available at The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

72. Metro Charter Appointments Win Recommendation -

Shelby County Commissioners Wednesday recommended all 10 of County Mayor A C Wharton’s appointees to a metro charter commission.

The commission, which will include five people appointed by the Memphis mayor and confirmed by the City Council, will draft a charter proposal to consolidate Memphis and Shelby County governments.

73. Mom and Pop Used-Car Dealers Left Without Clunkers -

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - One man's clunker is another man's meal ticket.

Mom and Pop used-car dealers are feeling the crunch as the old Caravans and Cherokees that provide their livelihood get traded in and banished to junkyards under Cash for Clunkers. By some estimates, three of every five of the used cars turned in for government rebates would have ended up on used car lots or resold for parts.

74. Chairmanship Battle a Preview Of Coming Political Landscape -

The political fortunes of the Shelby County Democratic Party haven’t been this high in awhile.

Democrats have high hopes for the 2010 county elections. In the 2006 elections, four Democratic challengers of Republican incumbents in countywide offices came within 1,000 votes of wins. Democrats picked up a countywide office in the 2008 elections when Otis Jackson, one of the four Democrats who got close but not close enough two years earlier, upset Republican incumbent Chris Turner in the General Sessions Court clerk’s race.

75. Deadline: What it's Really Like Inside the City's Big Daily - EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Dries was a reporter at The Commercial Appeal from June 1997-October 2005. This story is based in part on his experiences there and more recent conversations with other CA staffers.

The fall evening six years ago when Chris Peck became the editor of The Commercial Appeal was treated with utmost secrecy inside the newspaper at 495 Union Ave.

Then-publisher John Wilcox was determined to prevent leaks of that night’s decision to any other media outlets. So not only would the choice be a secret to those outside the building, but inside as well.

Then-Metro editor Charles Bernsen camped out in his small office at one end of the newsroom with the blinds drawn across its large window. He emerged just before the regular 11 p.m. deadline to tell editors on the copy desk he was sending the story, written from home by a trusted reporter.

The article by Tom Charlier in the Oct. 9, 2002, edition described Peck as “a veteran journalist who built a national reputation for innovative leadership and unblinking coverage of difficult topics” as the editor of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash.

Otis Sanford, the CA’s deputy managing editor and the other finalist for the top job, was promoted to managing editor. It was the first of many changes in the past six years to the newspaper’s masthead, where its top leaders are listed.

New era dawns

Peck arrived in Memphis shortly after the article and, although he would officially take over in January after Angus McEachran’s retirement, there was a great deal of anticipation – and, uncharacteristically for a floor full of reporters – not much background checking on Peck.

Before selecting Peck, executives of the CA’s parent company, the E.W. Scripps Co., had set up a committee of CA employees and solicited their opinions on what they wanted to see in the next editor. Many said they wanted a new direction at the newspaper.

Peck came to Memphis from a short stint as the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He had served as editor at the Spokane Spokesman-Review just prior to the academic post.

Peck left that paper on the heels of a journalism controversy that got little play outside the Northwest and continued to linger as recently as two years ago. It concerned financing for a large public project involving the newspaper’s owners.

Meanwhile, hopes were high among some CA staff members that Peck would change the dysfunctional management style at the paper. Others believed no creative undertaking the size of a newspaper is possible without some level of dysfunction. And still others were leery about any optimistic assessment for any reason.

Bernsen was among the first to leave the CA after Peck’s hire. Louis Graham, who had been expected to head the Metro desk even if Sanford became the new top editor, replaced Bernsen.

Six years later, departing and current staffers describe the CA’s management style and newsroom atmosphere as “toxic.” They also complain that little has changed in terms of who runs the newspaper on a daily basis despite a frequent shuffling of the management chart.

None would talk with The Memphis News on the record for fear of reprisals. Even past staffers didn’t want their names used because of the prospect of doing freelance work for the newspaper. Those still in the newsroom and on the payroll wouldn’t talk on company phones.

Profits and losses

What ails The Commercial Appeal has a lot to do with what ails the newspaper industry in general these days. But that’s a black-and-white version that misses large colorful splotches unique to the institution.

Decisions made during the past six years to pursue a growth strategy targeting “suburban” readers, as well as longstanding practices for managing talent, have also helped bring the newspaper to where it is today.

Managers at the newspaper, in separate interviews with The Memphis News, insist it is stable, profitable and will remain a seven-day-a-week operation despite recent moves that severely cut the reporting staff, eliminated classified ads from the already thin Monday and Tuesday print editions and an admission that the newspaper probably won’t be covering less urgent topics in the future.

Asked if the demise of classified ad sections in the Monday and Tuesday editions could be a sign that the Monday and Tuesday print editions might vanish entirely, publisher Joe Pepe was unequivocal.

“No. That’s not going to happen, at least under my tenure here,” Pepe said. “A lot of the transactional classified business is done online anyway. Everything that you see in the paper every day of the week is also online. So putting the Monday and Tuesday (classifieds) online was essentially just a way for us to save on some newsprint costs while not taking away from the advertising.”

The CA is profitable, Peck and Pepe insist, although they won’t release any numbers.

“We’ve projected a profit for 2009,” Peck said. “We were profitable in 2008. So, I fully expect we’ll be profitable in 2009.”

Pepe responded, “Absolutely,” when asked if the CA is profitable. When asked if he would be more specific, he replied, “No. Good try.”

Doing less with fewer

The newspaper is not alone in its reluctance to give out specific financial data. Most businesses consider such information to be proprietary.

The optimistic assessment is in contrast to a letter subscribers got this month from Karl D. Wurzbach, vice president of circulation, saying subscription rates would go up by $2 a month effective Nov. 1.

“This is the only way we can continue to deliver to your home every day,” he wrote. “This increase is across the board, for everybody, with no exclusions.”

Wurzbach’s letter also noted that the CA had dropped home delivery to 11,600 subscribers in outlying areas during a five-month period. The weekday newsstand price had already increased from 50 cents to 75 cents.

“It was costing us more money to print and deliver than we earned in revenue,” he said in the letter. “No company can survive using that business model. … Simply put, we are making very difficult decisions to help our business survive.”

Both moves in the appearance and delivery of the paper came in the week after 20 reporters and editors faced the ultimate “difficult decision.”

The newspaper made the decision of whom to fire using a controversial system that ranks reporters in the particular section of the paper they work for. The key to the ranking is not reporting ability or even a byline count; it’s how a reporter gets along with his or her editor. It had already been a key to longevity at the CA before Peck arrived in Memphis and made it a formal part of employee evaluations.

“You have to grieve those who are no longer with us in a genuine way because they were great contributions,” Peck said. “But you really at that point also have to rather quickly turn your attention to the task at hand. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

But the veteran employees “grieved” by management are the same employees management had ranked as the least valuable in their respective departments.

That included Jimmie Covington, the longest-serving reporter at the paper until his dismissal in March after years of being shuffled from one suburban bureau to another. Covington was a veteran of the county government and Memphis City Schools beats.

The layoffs also included Frederic Koeppel and Christopher Blank, who provided much of the newspaper’s arts coverage and who apparently won’t be replaced with full-time reporters.

There’s now no mention of the “master narratives” Peck once included in his “blueprint” for the CA. They included long-form stories on race, the city’s musical heritage, barbecue and the river. It was to be a departure from the newspaper being what Peck referred to as a “news utility,” or all-purpose paper of record.

“What we have to do is prioritize our staff resources,” Peck said just weeks after 20 people in the CA newsroom either resigned or were fired in the latest series of cutbacks – the deepest to date for the editorial staff. “I think where that’s going to lead is making sure that we have the nuts and bolts of hard news coverage. That’s probably police reporting, court reporting, government reporting, school reporting. We want to make sure we’ve got those bases covered.”

Whatever is left of a full-time reporting staff will be devoted to issues and institutions such as FedEx, the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies, the economy and the medical center.

“If we run out of people at that point, then we’re going to turn to freelancers and more community-generated content,” Peck said. “I think we’ll be able to fill a lot of holes there if we need to and I think it will work out fine.”

Wanted: free (or reduced) labor

Pepe offered a basic definition of citizen journalism.

“All blogging is citizen journalism,” he told The Memphis News. “In a lot of cases it’s unsubstantiated. It’s not objective. It’s not edited content. It leans more toward opinion and subjectivity. Anytime we have citizen journalism, it’s still going to get edited. It’s still going to get verified. It’s going to get checked for facts before we post it. We apply the same rules to citizen-sponsored journalism as we do to our top line reporter.”

Sanford said citizen journalism “has its place” and has been discussed since the early 1990s. It shows up in the pages he governs in the form of opinion pieces and letters to the editor. Non-newspaper employees also serve on the CA’s editorial board.

“Now, I am a traditional, old-fashioned journalist,” Sanford said. “And I believe that while citizen journalism has its place, I’m not one – and maybe this is an old-fashioned view – but I’m not one to think that citizen journalism can ever take the place of the traditional journalism that I know and love. I just don’t believe that.”

The names of reporters and photographers cut in the most recent round of layoffs are already turning up in CA coverage as freelancers. Instead of a straight name with “The Commercial Appeal” below it, their names now appear with the phrase “special to The Commercial Appeal” and, of course, they receive no health benefits or regular paychecks from the newspaper.

Worldwide wakeup call

Before Peck’s arrival in Memphis, the CA was more than out of touch with the need for an Internet presence. The newspaper was hostile to such a move.

Posting a story on the Web site that was anything more than a teaser paragraph before the actual newspapers rolled of the presses and into delivery trucks was seen as handing the story to the competition.

It was a philosophy that had served the newspaper well in competing with television news, even with the rise of 24-hour cable news channels.

However, there have been consequences for being late to the Internet party, and financial consequences for not taking the Internet seriously.

“Right now all the revenue is generated off advertising,” Pepe said of print journalism’s gradual realization that it needed to be in the Web business as well. “Until search engines are firewalled – until all local media either together or individually start charging for content online – it’s going to continue to be a source of non-revenue in terms of content. That then means that revenue for all Internet ventures will be based on advertising.”

After Peck arrived, the move to unique content for the Web site was still slow in coming.

Editors exerted the same multi-tiered control over copy that might mean a story was not edited for Web or print until later in the day, closer to the print deadline.

Scraps often erupted over how copy was edited after it left the editors and went to the “new media” department. It might be a change in a few words or a new, snappier lead (first sentence), but some editors clearly didn’t like having their work changed as much as they might have imagined reporters liked having their work rearranged.

Reporters are expected to take such changes without protest, and protests are rare even when edits distort meaning. Reporters can always fall back on the excuse that the story got messed up after it was out of their hands.

But that brings into play another rule for newsroom survival – always, always make a hard copy of the story you turn in to your editor.

The anonymity of snark

The comments section on www.commercialappeal.com, where readers may post their thoughts at the bottom of stories, has been wildly successful if you look just at the number of comments some stories generate in a short amount of time.

But success isn’t the word that comes to mind if you start to read the comments on a regular basis.

They routinely crackle with racial tension and even racial slurs. When some staffers complained about the slurs and called for better policing of such comments, Peck reportedly asked for a list of what slurs should be considered cause for removing comments.

Sanford had a different take in March as he spoke at a University of Memphis panel discussion about race and the media.

“Please stop reading those comments,” Sanford told a crowd of 100 people on campus. “You’ve got … anonymous people who go on our stories … and make unbelievably goofy and stupid comments. And then that becomes, unfortunately, the reality. And we have to stop that. We can’t stop the comments because the Web people have told us, ‘Well, that’s how you get people in there.’ But please don’t listen to that.”

To civic groups and even individual citizens who contact the paper with complaints and concerns, Sanford is its face, voice and ears. When the CA participates in media forums, chances are the speaker will be Sanford.

For the past two years, Sanford has been in charge of the paper’s editorial board and Viewpoint section. It’s a position that evolved after editorial page editor David Kushma’s departure, when Kushma’s duties came to be included in Sanford’s.

“That just didn’t work right,” Sanford told The Memphis News. “We had a lot of discussions about this. Corporate was even involved in it. We agreed that the editorial pages, Viewpoint, the editorial board – we would sort of restructure the newsroom operation and the editorial board and the editorial opinions of the paper so that would fall directly under the publisher and I would be running that. I think that was a good thing to do.”

That means that Sanford works for Pepe, not Peck, as he did when he was managing editor.

Gum-popping good times

Peck met with each reporter in his office shortly after he arrived in Memphis. He appeared to be taking notes on a legal pad as he listened to their comments and suggestions.

However, trying to find Peck’s strategy over the years has been no simple matter. There wasn’t much beyond slogans that included “rebuilding the jet while flying it” or “building a 21st century newspaper.” The latter phrase was still being used six years into the new century.

One reporter who tried to get into Peck’s head in terms of management philosophy hit a brick wall with a thud, although he is still employed at the CA.

On that occasion, Peck was in no mood to discuss philosophy despite a casual-sounding e-mail asking if the reporter had a few minutes to talk. Instead of a dialogue, Peck gave the reporter $50 in cash and a list of books he could buy to read. He also sent the reporter back to the night cops beat for objecting to how a story was edited.

The editorial page and op-ed page were the first parts of the paper that changed. Peck wanted more letters to the editor. He also wanted to stop the practice of rigorously fact-checking letters.

This drew dissent from Kushma, who was eventually overruled and left in the first round of buyouts in 2003 that followed Peck’s arrival. Some of the other changes were in the Metro section – the hard news engine of the paper.

Reporters were switched around, which is a normal part of life at the city’s daily newspaper unless you are declared immune from such changes. The six or seven Metro editors were immune for the most part from the changes.

The newspaper’s home office in Cincinnati had long maintained that the paper was top heavy with such editors. Peck talked a lot about change, but didn’t change that.

At one of Peck’s first meetings with the Metro staff, a reporter asked Peck when there would be changes for the editors as well. Peck’s answer was to talk about Dentyne gum and how the company that makes it had allegedly improved its sales figures by repackaging the gum.

The analogy was that the CA was going to undergo a similar repackaging: What was under the wrapper would remain the same.

For weeks after the meeting, fellow reporters left numerous packages of Dentyne on the questioner’s desk.

Before Peck answered the question, some staffers remained hopeful because they saw most of the problems with the new management as a result of Peck having to answer to John Wilcox, the CA’s publisher. It was a key difference in the management structure.

Before Wilcox’s arrival, McEachran had served as editor and president – a title that gave McEachran near absolute power over everything the newspaper did, editorially and otherwise.

The Dentyne story showed that if there was a struggle between Wilcox and Peck, it wasn’t much of a difference of opinion. They essentially agreed on a newsroom strategy that continued to unfold.

Neighborly gestures

Of those at the top of the masthead, only Sanford has seen all of the changes unfold from one regime to the other.

“In terms of news, certainly the newspaper has changed dramatically under Chris,” Sanford told The Memphis News. “There have been significant changes in focus and really in newsroom culture.”

Asked to characterize whether the change has been good, bad or indifferent, Sanford said, “I’m not going to say. I’m going to let others decide that. The readers can determine that.”

Peck’s take on newsroom culture at the CA is almost as neutral.

“The culture is not one where people are necessarily beaming with big smiles every day because it’s a difficult time in the industry,” he told The Memphis News. “I think that I have tried to be very realistic with people with what’s going on in the business – and very realistic about our expectations of what we need from our staff, from my office all the way down to the last person who leaves at night.”

The Neighbors sections were abolished with Peck’s settling in – sections included every Thursday for each zone of the city that also contained honors rolls of all schools in and out of the zone, and other such listings. It had the kind of items that readers might like to cut out and post on their refrigerators. No matter where you lived in Memphis, you got a Neighbors section.

Peck wasted no time in making the refrigerator postings a rallying cry for what was to replace Neighbors. They would be hyper-local sections that would contain only news about that part of the county. Some would be written by a staffer, but most often written by citizens in that area. Often, the citizens were members of a group or organization that was the focus of the piece.

Soon the philosophy began to apply to the news that appeared in other parts of the particular delivery zone.

Not every section of the city got a suburban edition. Vast sections of North and South Memphis as well as Frayser and Raleigh were out of the loop.

Peck first pleaded ignorance to and has since repeatedly denied a central tenet of life in Memphis. Memphians often have family that might live in another part of town. Thus someone Downtown might want to see the honor roll of Tara Oaks Elementary School in Collierville or someone in Bartlett might be interested in what is happening in Arlington.

This often led to readers wondering what they missed in other parts of the city, and being suspicious of only receiving certain news.

New suburban bureaus were opened as full-time postings in Mississippi and Arkansas and state Capitol coverage from Jackson and Little Rock, respectively, was abandoned. Meanwhile, the newspaper’s greatest success in a suburban edition was being changed to make it fit the cookie-cutter mold of the new suburban bureaus.

Escape hatch

The newspaper’s DeSoto County edition opened late in McEachran’s tenure. It was one of the few times McEachran talked about marketing studies as he explained a concept to the newsroom. But it was because the data were clear.

DeSoto County readers wanted a newspaper that covered North Mississippi and did not mention Memphis, at least on the front page. The DeSoto County bureau had a separate sales and management staff. And the CA edition delivered in DeSoto County had its own front page that was DeSoto County-centric. It was even called The DeSoto Appeal. And it was a hit out of the box, with plans to duplicate the model in Tipton County while maintaining a different model within Shelby County because of the differences in attitudes clearly shown in the marketing study.

Peck wasn’t interested in the distinction.

When Pepe arrived as publisher in late 2005, the CA got someone with experience in such suburban editions. Pepe came to Memphis from St. Louis, where he headed the Suburban Journals – a collection of 38 weekly community newspapers.

Pepe said the CA’s suburban business strategy as modified several times over has worked. That strategy is to get advertising from small businesses in the community receiving the directed section – businesses whose reach and revenue can’t sustain a pitch to the paper’s larger audience.

“In St. Louis, they’ve been in place for 50 years,” Pepe said. “So they were humming. Here, we’ve had them in place for three or four years. I would suggest that if we’d not done this, that we would have even greater financial problems, only because the dependency on the larger advertisers would have been even greater than it is.”

“Zoning,” as it’s called, is now a three-day-a-week proposition.

“We still do zoning Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We have a suburban, urban and a DeSoto zone. I think that’s where we need to be,” Peck said. “What we’re trying to do is balance the best of both worlds. Make sure our readers have the best of what’s going on in greater Memphis, but that we also provide a degree of zone content that is either geared toward the metro area, the suburbs or DeSoto County.”

But the practice has been much different than the theory behind the advertising and the needs of news consumers. As valued as the suburban coverage has been throughout Peck’s tenure, the bureaus have been places where reporters with troublesome attitudes toward editors have been exiled.

It was the next destination for many of those summoned for personal meetings with Peck as the first round of buyouts began in late 2003. In some cases, reporters have welcomed the assignment to be able to get out of the Downtown newsroom.

In the doghouse

The first round of buyouts under Peck in 2003 was brutal – even more ham-handed and graceless than anyone imagined possible. And the CA is not an organization noted for having an optimistic outlook.

All employees who were older than 40 and had been at the company 20 years or more got packets outlining the terms of the buyout. But within that group, Peck singled out about a dozen copy editors, reporters and photographers, including some of the most senior reporters and photographers in the organization. He had already begun discussions with several in the group who had been ill or had surgery.

Each got an e-mail from Peck asking if they had a few minutes to talk in his office. Peck would later quarrel with an assertion that he had threatened those in the group in the one-on-one talks. But he did tell each of them that if they didn’t take the buyout, they would be assigned more onerous duties.

One was told that if he didn’t take the buyout, he would be working nights and weekends. When the employee said he already worked nights and weekends, the meeting ended abruptly. A features reporter and another reporter each were told they would be working the night cops beat if they didn’t accept the buyouts.

The night shift started at 4:30 p.m. and ran until 1 a.m. or so. It involved listening to a police scanner and checking for such news that had to be written on deadline. The night cops reporter is the only news reporter on duty at the paper after 5p.m. unless there’s a late City Council meeting or someone on dayside decides they are on a roll and continues working.

Most papers have the night cops beat, and it is usually where beginning reporters start. It’s a good way to learn the basics of print reporting and determine whether a reporter can hold up under deadline pressure. At the CA, it is a beat assigned to reporters who are out of favor – firmly, decisively and usually terminally out of favor.

Under Peck, even summer interns don’t have to work night cops.

The Newspaper Guild, the union that represents reporters, photographers and copy editors, took the unusual move of passing a resolution that complained about Peck’s singling out employees. The same day the union passed the resolution, Peck called into his office the reporter who had made the proposal. I was that employee.

“I would really like for this not to find its way to Cincinnati,” was his reaction after he quarreled over whether his other talks with employees had amounted to threats.

The guild membership had voted unanimously for the resolution to be sent to Scripps management in Cincinnati. Peck later talked union leaders out of sending it, despite the membership vote.

Some of the squeezed employees took the buyout. Others stayed and were shuffled out to the suburban bureaus the following August, and were among those laid off this past March.

‘Treacherous ground’

The guild’s idea of a protest was to have reporters in the newsroom wear green on certain days of the week. This signaled that contract negotiations weren’t going well or weren’t going at all.

It’s been six years since the last labor contract expired that included guaranteed annual raises. Then the guild went to the idea of wearing green buttons – no words on the buttons, just green buttons that Scripps brass in town would see during their visits to Memphis. The brass never got near the newsroom. Still later, the guild kept the idea of the green color scheme but added the wording “We All Merit A Raise” to protest the company’s proposal of merit pay raises instead of a percentage raise guaranteed in the contract.

At one point, the guild was optimistic that the company was getting the message. So the guild urged members not to file grievances against management to keep the goodwill going.

In October 2007, the most visible sign of dissent in years came outside the framework of the guild and stalled contract talks. As the CA prepared to publish a series of articles on the impact of Memphis businesses around the world, a lead piece about FedEx to be sponsored by FedEx was ordered rewritten and the reporter, Trevor Aaronson, refused. The newspaper had approached FedEx about sponsoring that particular piece. Dozens of staff members, in a rare public move, signed a petition objecting to the practice Peck referred to as “monetizing content.” They felt it crossed the line separating the editorial part of the newspaper from sales. National trade magazines and blogs, which normally overlook the CA, took note of the flap.

Peck retreated, telling Editor & Publisher, a print trade magazine, “I went to our publisher and said, ‘We have probably gone half a step more than we should have gone on this project.’ It is treacherous ground when you start talking about having an advertiser in a section that has them in the reporting.”

Aaronson later left the CA, but has been quoted as saying he enjoyed the freedom he was given to pursue his own interests.

“I don’t care to talk about my experiences there,” Aaronson wrote in an e-mail.

The favored few

The stage for the latest round of layoffs that came in April was set with the release of fourth-quarter figures for Scripps.

Profits were way down. The chain ended the year with its share prices down 51 percent or $22. The chain announced it would freeze the pension plan, cutting 401(k) matching funds from the company. At the CA, the 401(k) match has always only applied to managers.

Mark Watson, head of the triumvirate of labor unions at the CA, including The Newspaper Guild, broke the news about the layoffs, calling it a “crisi-tunity.” He was among those laid off weeks later.

The weekend after the announcement, Peck in his Sunday column once again lectured about the hard economic times.

From the start, Peck’s quest was to garner favorable attention within the city and in journalism circles across the country by winning awards. At first, he touted every award the paper won, which, for writing and reporting, were usually the monthly Scripps awards from the home office in Cincinnati.

But he later reversed that and said the paper should note only awards of national stature. Photographers regularly won those, but reporters didn’t.

When some reporters complained their work was always excluded from consideration, Peck directed that reporters submit on a monthly basis any work they wanted to be considered for award entries.

Those suggestions were then forwarded to the very editors who had been excluding their work in the first place and who remained in control of contest entries.

Like other newspapers, the CA’s approach to awards is sometimes to deem a story to be eligible for an award, possibly before the first interview is done or the first word is written.

But a contest entry had to have the right byline as well – the right reporter doing a story for a contest was usually not the one covering the beat from which the story arose.

Pamela Perkins, who left the paper voluntary in the November 2008 round of layoffs, along with music writer Bill Ellis, who left in 2005, won a national award in 2004 from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri for their continuing coverage of the return of Stax Records and the surrounding Soulsville neighborhood in South Memphis. Their writing won first place in the arts and entertainment category of the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards.

There was no companywide e-mail congratulating them as there had been for awards in the monthly Scripps competition.

Stephen Price’s work as one of several reporters working on the deadly shooting of a child on Rosamond Avenue in 2002 caught the attention of Florida’s Poynter Institute, a leading journalism think tank. Other reporters deemed more worthy were praised the next day in the inevitable self-congratulatory e-mail in which management separated those it favored from those it didn’t.

Price had blended into the neighborhood crowd as police cleared reporters from the area, came back with the story no one else had and wrote it on deadline.

The Poynter Institute carries a lot of weight in Peck’s newspaper philosophy. Several times, he’s used Poynter fellows to mediate discussions with community leaders about the newspaper’s policies. But when Price’s account of the shooting aftermath in the Rosamond neighborhood was reprinted in Poynter’s annual anthology of the nation’s best journalism of the past year, CA management once again did not acknowledge the accolade.

Curious ideas

As the 2004 presidential season began, Peck revealed an important part of his views on political coverage to an editors’ forum in Washington. It was the same night as the Iowa caucuses.

The remarks to the American Press Institute gathering didn’t get much publicity, even after they showed up on an industry blog. It took a few more months. He never said anything about it to anyone who worked at the CA.

Peck said having reporters cover campaign events was a waste of time and resources. Instead, he said citizen journalists should cover the events – those who were already going to attend the rallies anyway.

“We have to get over the notion that we have to do it all ourselves,” he told Chad Capellman of API as he talked of having editors find volunteers to write summaries of what was said. “It’s not doing the democracy any good to send out a reporter to write down a regurgitation of what a candidate is saying in a staged event.”

Peck also said newspapers should compete with comedy shows such as “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live” as a source of political information. Also, Peck called for focus groups of readers to determine what issues should be discussed.

“Don’t let the candidates drive coverage of the three issues they want to ride to get elected,” he told the API group.

Being the newspaper’s political reporter had been a difficult posting for some time, even before Peck arrived in Memphis. Bernsen had a checkered history of political coverage that turned into a deep distrust and contempt for politics when he became the head of Metro.

Each election season he would dutifully call those assigned to political coverage to his office and haul out a set of his own news clippings, which he said illustrated the kind of reporting he wanted. Under no circumstances, he insisted, would the candidates be setting the agenda for the newspaper’s coverage.

Such tension is normal in the planning of most media coverage of politics. It’s a game candidates, their representatives and the reporters who cover them play constantly.

Bernsen’s decision was not to play the game at all. He did not want coverage of campaign events and rallies. And the end of an election meant the end of political coverage. Any attempt a candidate made to establish or give voice to an issue was uniformly rejected even if it obviously hit a nerve with voters. To him, the whole process was rigged and the newspaper’s view was the only valid one.

There was supposed to be a wall between the reporting that was allowed on the political process and the endorsements of candidates that the CA editorial board made. Most candidates interested in the newspaper’s endorsement never believed there was a wall. If there was, they reasoned, editors not on the board would still find a way to limit or tilt coverage of those who weren’t endorsed.

Prism of perception

The CA began 2009 with a curious 15-part series that recapped the public life of Mayor Willie Herenton.

Herenton has had problems with the newspaper throughout that public life. And similarly, the newspaper’s leadership has had problems seeing straight when the subject was Willie Herenton.

The paper’s until then consistent political coverage was missing in action when Herenton launched a surprisingly strong-willed bid for mayor in 1991. Editorially, the newspaper had strong reservations about the People’s Convention that Herenton took by storm, clearing the first political obstacle in what became a historic campaign.

His willingness to participate in the convention, whose goal was to come up with a consensus black challenger to incumbent Dick Hackett, put off those in the newspaper’s front office. It translated to next to no coverage of a campaign effort that was on the streets every day, while Hackett pursued the local equivalent of a rose garden strategy of speaking to small groups at select backyard parties.

When Herenton won, the ambivalence turned into hostility.

Herenton had a good relationship with several reporters who had covered his tenure as city schools superintendent – even through the sexual harassment lawsuit that came near the end of his tenure there and just before his entry into the 1991 mayor’s race. (The harassment case stemmed from a relationship Herenton had with a teacher.)

Those reporters had to walk a fine line. A favorable comment by Herenton in public that got back to editors could mean that reporter would be perceived as biased toward Herenton. The problem many reporters had with walking the tightrope was editors increasingly viewed a reporter’s duty to the paper as a requirement to shank their sources in print to show where their loyalties lay.

The editors were convinced a 2005 recall petition mounted by radio talk show host and blogger Thaddeus Matthews would succeed. They considered it a foregone conclusion that Matthews would gather more than enough signatures on the petitions and do it well before the deadline to file with the Shelby County Election Commission.

The newspaper’s planned coverage moved past the recall drive itself. The editors ordered up a piece on who was likely to run in the recall election that followed. They approached at least two reporters with the task before the effort flagged just enough for the piece to become an article on who might run for city mayor in 2007.

The fact that politicos across the city were still waiting to see if the 2006 county elections would offer any opportunities didn’t cross their minds. Calls to those politicos were met with widespread laughter and wonderment at the eccentric methods afoot at the CA. The petition drive failed and Matthews backed Herenton’s 2007 bid for re-election.

Distance learning

By this past February, CA management signed off on a content-sharing agreement with fellow Scripps paper The Knoxville News Sentinel, as well as The Tennesseean newspaper in Nashville and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Feb. 5 agreement was already in effect by the time an internal memo from News Sentinel management surfaced in early March in Editor & Publisher.

The CA and the Knoxville newspaper had used such a strategy for years in covering politics. The result was that the CA continued to do without any local political coverage beyond biographical pieces introducing candidates.

Statewide races for governor and the U.S. Senate were covered from Knoxville or by the CA’s Nashville bureau chief, Richard Locker, or in some cases by Bartholomew Sullivan, a former CA reporter who now works for the Scripps News Service’s Washington bureau. That meant candidates for statewide office coming to Memphis were usually covered before they got to the city or after they left.

The agreement was most visible during the 2006 U.S. Senate race between Republican Bob Corker of Chattanooga and Democrat Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis. One of the campaign’s crucial events was a showdown between the two at Memphis International Airport.

Corker had called a press conference there. Ford crashed the event ahead of time and the two faced off in the airport parking lot – a few inches from each other with television cameras and microphones surrounding them.

There was no CA reporter in the press pack. Sullivan covered what became known as the “parking lot debate” from the D.C. bureau.

...

76. GM Employees May Get Shutdown Details This Week -

DETROIT (AP) - Thousands of GM workers could learn as early as Thursday that they will be idle for up to nine weeks this summer as the automaker's plants stop making all but its most popular cars and trucks.

77. Wrestling Promoter Preps For County Clerk Run -

Wrestling promoter and television personality Corey Maclin is the latest Democratic candidate to announce his intentions for the 2010 countywide elections.

Maclin on Monday told members of the local Democratic Executive Committee that he will be a candidate in the 2010 Democratic primary for Shelby County clerk.

78. The Flintco Cos. Names Musson Business Development Director -

Troy Musson has been hired by The Flintco Cos. Inc. as its director of business development for Flintco’s Memphis and Springdale, Ark., offices.

79. Perry Enters Probate Clerk Race -

Add another candidate to the already forming 2010 Shelby County ballot.

Clay Perry, deputy administrator to the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, is in the race for Shelby County Probate Court clerk.

80. County Commission To Fill Vacancy -

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners should return to its full complement of 13 members today.

The commission is scheduled to select a replacement for David Lillard, a Republican who resigned from the commission this month following his appointment in January as state treasurer. Whoever wins the appointment will serve the year and a half remaining in Lillard’s four-year term of office.

81. Squeezing More Miles Out of that Hybrid -

At the Detroit auto show next month, one of the most highly anticipated new vehicles will be Toyota Motor Corp.'s third-generation Prius hybrid. It features a roomier interior and better gas mileage than the current model, the best-selling hybrid in the world.

82. Final Holiday Shopping Weekend Keeps Retailers Edgy -

CHICAGO (AP) – The deals were there and, by most accounts, so were the shoppers. But at the close of the final holiday shopping weekend, consumers confessed they were still nervous about buying.

83. Automakers Pitch Congress Anew on Rescue -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Humbled U.S. automakers pleaded with Congress on Thursday for an expanded $34 billion rescue package, but heard fresh skepticism in a bumpy encore appearance.

"We're here today because we made mistakes," General Motors chief executive Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee in prepared testimony.

84. Chrysler Exec: Failure Could Spark Depression -

WASHINGTON (AP) - A top Chrysler executive warned Wednesday that a carmaker collapse could send the economy spiraling into a depression, while the United Auto Workers agreed to new concessions for their companies.

85. Democrats Seek to Lower Expectations for Bailout -

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top Senate Democrats suggested Wednesday that a bill to rescue Detroit's Big Three automakers was stalled and challenged the Bush administration to take steps to save the industry if congressional efforts falter. The White House quickly rebuffed the suggestion.

86. Jackson’s Election Signals Change In Clerk’s Office -

Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson Jr. turned 48 this week and walked into the clerk’s office for the first time as the clerk.

Jackson, a Democrat, upset incumbent clerk Chris Turner, a Republican, in the Aug. 7 county general elections. From then to Sept. 1, when Jackson officially took office, there wasn’t a transition.

87. Cohen, Blackburn Lead Local Election Winners -

More than half and possibly as much as 75 percent of Shelby County’s nearly 626,000 voters are expected to turn out for the Nov. 4 election that will be highlighted by the John McCain-Barack Obama battle for the White House.

88. Cohen Crushes Tinker - Jackson Upsets Turner - Charter Changes Pass-Fail - Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen was the big winner in Thursday’s primary elections. Cohen, with 80 percent of the vote, crushed challenger Nikki Tinker in the hard fought 9th District Democratic primary.

The upset of the evening was the general election contest for General Sessions Court Clerk where Democratic challenger Otis Jackson beat Republican incumbent Chris Turner.

And only one of two sets of Shelby County charter amendments on the ballot were approved by voters.

Voter turnout was just under 16 percent in Shelby County. Voter turnout was clearly driven by the 9th District Democratic primary. More people voted in that primary which covers most but not all of Shelby County than voted countywide in the state Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Turnout in the Democratic primaries was twice that of the Republican primaries in Shelby County.

All results are unofficial pending audit and certification by the Shelby County Election Commission and Tennessee election officials

9th Congressional District
Democratic Primary
Steve Cohen 50,284 79%
Nikki Tinker 11,814 19%
Joe Towns Jr. 914 1%

Not even close. Cohen won the primary for the open all Shelby County seat two years ago by 4,400 votes over Tinker and 13 other candidates. This time around he was the incumbent and Tinker’s challenge was more strident with a pair of controversial attack ads in the gap between the end of early voting and election day. Both were probably factors in the vote totals along with a smaller field of five candidates.

Cohen faces independent candidate Jake Ford in the Nov. 4 general election.

7th Congressional District
Republican Primary
248 of 265 precincts reporting
Marsha Blackburn 29,158 65%
Tom Leatherwood 15,636 35%

These are the results district wide which includes not only the eastern part of Shelby County but a strip of Middle Tennessee up to the Kentucky state line. In Shelby County’s part of the 7th district, Leatherwood beat Blackburn with 62 percent of the vote. But it was 62 percent of just over 19,000 votes. Outside Shelby County it was always going to be difficult for Leatherwood.. The low voter turnout in Collierville and other eastern parts of the county made Leatherwood’s task impossible.

Blackburn faces Democrat Randy G. Morris on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Shelby County Charter Amendment #360
Yes  49,506   49.73%

No   50,043   50,27%

Closest contest of the night in Shelby County with a 537 vote margin and the highest turnout with 99,549 votes total.

This set of charter changes was to fix a legal problem noted in a recent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. Another part of the package deal was increasing term limits for the county mayor and the county commission from two consecutive four year terms approved by voters in 1994 to three consecutive four year terms. The County Commission meets Monday to ponder whether it should offer another charter amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot that would fix the legal problem.

Shelby County Charter Amendment #361
Yes 65,548 68%
No 30,188 32%

This set of charter amendment includes provisions for recalling elected officials. It also establishes a new method for filling a vacancy in the office of County Mayor.

General Sessions Court Clerk
Otis Jackson 51,438 52%
Chris Turner 43,971 45%

The upset of the evening. Turner, the Republican nominee and the incumbent was seeking a fourth term. Jackson, the Democratic nominee, was making his fourth bid for county-wide office after coming close in a 2006 bid for County Clerk.

Trustee
Paul Mattila 54,734 57%
Ray Butler 29,977 31%

Mattila beats Butler in a race featuring an energetic and misleading campaign by M. LaTroy Williams in which Williams billed himself as the “real Democrat.” He was, in fact, an independent candidate garnering 8 percent of the vote. Mattila fills the remaining two years left in the term of office of the late Bob Patterson, a Republican. Mattila, a Democrat, worked with Patterson. Butler, the Republican, was also a friend of Patterson’s and the race amounted to who would best continue to operate the office as Patterson did.

Criminal Court Judge Div. 6
John Fowlkes 44,581 52%
Latonya Burrow 21,874 26%
Michael G. Floyd 12,071 14%
Claiborne H. Ferguson 6,240 7%

Fowlkes serves out the remaining six years left of the eight year term of office of Fred Axley who resigned from the bench shortly after winning re-election in 2006. Burrow finished a close second to Axley two years ago and again ran an energetic campaign this time around. But Fowlkes status in the legal community and his appointment to the bench by Gov. Phil Bredesen proved to be the advantage.

Assessor of Property
Cheyenne Johnson 59,637 60%
Bill Giannini 39,057 40%

Johnson, the Democratic nominee, easily beat Giannini, who is also doubling as local GOP chairman. Local Democrats keep the county-wide position in their column as voters go for the candidate endorsed by outgoing Democratic incumbent Rita Clark.

U.S. Senate
Democratic Primary
2,192 of 2,290 precincts reporting
Bob Tuke 54,613 32%
Gary G. Davis 37,193 22%
Mike Padgett 32,190 19%
Mark Clayton 30,359 18%
Kenneth Eaton 13,718 8%
Leonard Ladner 4,431 3%

These are the statewide results. Tuke got 42 percent of the Shelby County vote with Clayton finishing second. Tuke, the former state Democratic Party chairman, faces Republican incumbent Lamar Alexander, one of the most successful politicians in the history of the state, in the Nov. 4 general election.

Judicial Retention Races

All seven state appellate court judges, including two Tennessee Supreme Court justices, won their yes/no contests on the ballot across the state. That includes Tennessee Criminal Appeals Court Judge Camille McMullen of Millington who was just appointed to the bench in June by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

...

89. Rhodes College’s Stuart Receives Distinguished Service Award -

Forrest Stuart, director of financial aid at Rhodes College, recently received the Distinguished Service Award at the spring conference of the Tennessee Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA).

90. District Attorney's OfficeAdds Four to Staff -      The Shelby County District Attorney General's Office has added four staff members, including a new criminal investigator and a human resources manager.
     Paul Boyd has been appointed huma

91. Filing Deadline For Elections Is Thursday -

A healthy voter turnout doesn't necessarily mean every race on the ballot gets the benefit. Politicos call it "ballot falloff." It means races such as those for president or mayor get voters to the polls. But those same voters might decide not to vote in the other races.

92. Shoemaker Financial's Allen Earns Circle of Excellence -

Frank Allen, a certified financial planner and financial adviser with Shoemaker Financial, has achieved the Circle of Excellence award from Securian Financial Services for his performance in 2007.

93. Obama Starts TV Ads in 4 Tennessee Markets -

CHATTANOOGA (AP) - Barack Obama is running television advertisements in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville, in what supporters say is the first such market buy for Tennessee's Feb. 5 Democratic presidential primary.

94. Latest Waltz Defendant Receives Probation -

It has finally happened in a Tennessee Waltz case. When former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga was sentenced last week, his attorney and his friends tried to minimize what he did wrong. They did it in a way that none of the other five former lawmakers who have been sentenced have tried.

95. Crutchfield Avoids Jail Time, Gets 2 Years Probation -

Former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga avoided jail time Thursday and was instead sentenced to two years probation for taking a bribe in the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting.

In Memphis federal court, U.S. District Judge Daniel Breen cited the poor health of the 79-year-old veteran legislator and former attorney in sentencing him to probation.

96. Two Primary Contests Set, Two to Go -

Two of the four Shelby County primaries on the Feb. 5 ballot were decided at last week's filing deadline for candidates in the races for Property Assessor and General Sessions Court Clerk.

The fields in the two other primaries aren't set just yet. The candidates have until noon Thursday to withdraw if they wish. Then the Shelby County Election Commission will meet to certify the ballot. The county primaries will share the Feb. 5 ballot with the Tennessee Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

97. Vote Delayed on Chamber Funding of Interest Groups -

Members of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners had a lot to say Monday about whether nonprofit civic groups with ties to groups that endorsed or ranked candidates in recent elections should get any money from the Memphis Regional Chamber Foundation and under what terms. But they ultimately delayed a vote on the terms for up to $1 million in funding.

98. Health Benefits Continue for 4 Waltz-Convicted Legislators -
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - State health insurance benefits will continue at no additional cost for four of the five former legislators convicted in the Tennessee Waltz bribery sting, records show.

99. Ethics Reforms Didn't Take Away Lobbyists' Power, Bredesen Says -
NASHVILLE (AP) - More than a year after lawmakers passed stricter ethics and disclosure laws, lobbyists still hold tremendous power over the legislative process, Gov. Phil Bredesen said.

The new ethics laws - approved in early 2006 after an FBI corruption investigation - took much of the money out of the relationship between lobbyist and lawmaker, but lobbyists still do plenty to craft and influence legislation.

100. Tenn. Waltz Changed Culture For Many at State Capitol -

NASHVILLE (AP) - A comprehensive ethics law passed in the wake of a federal investigation into corruption in state government that netted five sitting or former lawmakers has done much to change the atmosphere at the state Capitol.