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Editorial Results (free)

1. Wharton Outlines $596 Million Budget Plan -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. warned Tuesday, April 15, that “half measures” in converting city employees to a defined contributions benefits plan would not restore the city’s financial health and resolve an unfunded pension liability of hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. Council Looks to Pinpoint Pension Numbers -

The Tuesday, March 4, discussion Memphis City Council members had with Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard and consultants from four actuarial firms centered on the city’s pension liability.

3. Council Approves Ballpark Deal -

Memphis City Council members approved the city’s $19.5 million purchase of AutoZone Park Tuesday, Jan. 7, and another $4.5 million in improvements to the baseball park.

The deal includes the St. Louis Cardinals buying the Memphis Redbirds franchise and entering into a 17-year lease with the city of Memphis at $300,000 a year.

4. Harris to Lead Council’s Budget Committee -

Memphis City Council member Lee Harris will be chairman of the council’s budget committee for 2014.

5. Harris to Lead City Council Budget Committee -

Memphis City Council member Lee Harris will be chairman of the council’s budget committee for 2014.

6. Council Rules Could Change in 2014 -

Memphis City Council members are already starting to adapt some items in a set of proposed changes in how they conduct business.

The proposal took a bit longer to formulate than originally anticipated.

7. Team Players -

The key players, from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. to St. Louis Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr., grabbed the microphone at an invitation-only rally held on the club level of AutoZone Park and made their best pitches.

8. Council Keeps Southbrook Mall Renovation Alive -

Memphis City Council members voted Tuesday, Nov. 5, to start over again in plans to find a legal use for city funds in renovating the Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven.

And the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. gave a qualified endorsement through what amounts to a new feasibility study on the mall due before the council in a month.

9. Beale Street Deal Would Pay Handy Park Debt -

The settlement of the last remaining item in the bankruptcy petition of Beale Street developer Performa Entertainment hasn’t gone by any of the scripts the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. has written and rewritten.

10. City Pension Crisis Meets Sanitation Overhaul -

The city’s looming pension liability crisis and the proposed solution to it intersected Tuesday, Oct. 1, with a plan to overhaul city sanitation services and, in the process, provide a pension supplement to sanitation workers.

11. Council Gives Early Approval to Solid Waste Fee -

The Memphis City Council sent a proposed lease of Handy Park on Beale Street back to committee Tuesday, Sept. 3, for more discussion about the details.

And the council approved on the first of three readings a restoration of the city’s solid waste fee to $25.05 a month. But there were conflicting explanations about which part of an overhaul of sanitation services the restoration of the fee is supposed to fund.

12. Sales Tax Hike Goes to City Voters -

For months, political forces have been gathering to make the case for a half percent hike in the city sales tax rate that would fund a city administered pre-kindergarten program.

But when the Memphis City Council approved on third and final reading Tuesday, Aug. 6, of the ordinance to put it on the ballot for city voters in October, the debate revealed a significant difference of opinion.

13. Williams to Lead Marketing at Junior Achievement -

Priscilla Williams has joined Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South as director of marketing and special events. In her new role, Williams will work to increase the organization’s visibility, funding and branding.

14. Strickland, Conrad Warn of Budget Pitfalls -

When most of the 13 people on the Memphis City Council began their service in 2008, the city’s property tax rate was $3.43 and rolling back that rate was a priority of a voting majority on the body.

15. Property Tax Hike Highlights New City Budget -

Memphis City Council members raised the city property tax rate Tuesday, June 26, by 4 cents above the recertified tax rate and put the rest of a turbulent budget season to rest.

The approval of the $3.40 property tax rate and city operating and capital budgets came in a council session that ended at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

16. Council to Take Final Votes on Budget -

The most critical vote at last week’s budget-dominated Memphis City Council meeting may have been the vote to adjourn leaving final budget decisions pending.

It left a week for all sides in the ongoing budget drama at City Hall a wealth of time by political standards to build support for their respective positions.

17. Council Approves $24.2 Million In Budget Cuts -

Memphis City Council members tallied $24.2 million in city operating budget cuts Tuesday, June 18, in a marathon seven-hour session before an overflow crowd of angry city employees.

But the council adjourned before taking a final vote on the operating budget as amended or setting a city property tax rate.

18. Next Goal for City Budget: Consensus -

For now, Memphis City Council members have more questions than consensus about which end is up on the proposed city budget for the fiscal year that is three weeks away.

Beyond the questions awaits a significant difference of opinion among council members about the general direction city finances should take with the new fiscal year and beyond.

19. Budget Reset Talks Lead to Fresh Drama -

The Memphis City Hall budget drama turned from a budget reset into a political thicket Tuesday, June 4, as Memphis City Council members debated getting involved in the details of changing employee and retiree benefits.

20. Wharton Proposes 15-Cent Tax Hike, Council Delays Budget Votes -

Memphis City Council members delayed a series of seven budget and tax rate-related votes Tuesday, June 4, at the end of a busy day at City Hall.

The day featured a new tax rate proposal from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. that includes a 15-cent city property tax hike above the recertified rate proposed by Wharton.

21. Wharton Proposes 14-Cent Tax Hike Above Recertified Rate -

The administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. is proposing a 14-cent city property tax hike on top of the 25 cents added to the current rate of $3.11 to compensate for property value lost in the 2013 property reappraisal.

22. Police Budget Passes Early Council Test -

The Memphis City Council’s budget committee approved the largest budget for any single city division Tuesday, May 7.

But the committee debate before the vote set the stage for what is expected to be more discussion about how much the Memphis Police Department needs to protect and serve.

23. Beyond the Numbers -

It’s that time of year again when thick budget books dominate life for those in the Memphis and Shelby County governments.

But this year’s budget season on both sides of the Civic Center Plaza is more than line items and bottom lines on paper. The deliberations that ultimately determine how much you will pay in property taxes and at what rate go beyond the plans in the books of estimates, projections and the recurring and one-time revenue sources.

24. Questions Kick Off City Budget Hearings -

Memphis City Council members opened budget committee hearings Tuesday, April 23, on the clock and with lots of questions about what seemed to some like different budget numbers from last year at this time by the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

25. State Delays Auto Inspection Takeover -

The state of Tennessee has told the city of Memphis it will probably take two years for it to take over auto inspection duties in Shelby County.

But city funding for the auto inspection stations and employees runs out when the current fiscal year does, at the end of June.

26. Sales Tax Hike Headed to Ballot -

Memphis City Council members take final votes Tuesday, March 5, on a half-percent city sales tax hike referendum and the use of the estimated $47 million in revenue the tax hike will produce.

The council, which meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St., is expected to pass the referendum and send it to voters this year.

27. Five Big Ideas: Powering Your Business -

As Jim Collins explains in “Great by Choice,” all business leaders are bombarded with both great luck and bad breaks. The smartest CEOs learn not to squander sudden opportunities and figure out how to turn dismal news to their advantage – multiplying the benefits of whatever hand they’re dealt. Maximizing your “ROL” (Return on Luck) should be top of your list, every day. But your ROL is just part of the picture. Here are four more ideas that will help you achieve great results in 2013 and beyond.

28. City Council Approves Fairgrounds TDZ Request -

Memphis City Council members approved Tuesday, Feb. 19, plans for a tourism development zone to capture sales tax revenue in a large area for a renovation of the Fairgrounds property at first.

The boundaries of the zone go to the state for approval and city Community and Housing Development division director Robert Lipscomb said such a proposal could be at the state building commission in Nashville in April.

29. Maximizing Your Return on Luck -

Hunkering down in year-end strategic planning sessions, you are probably thinking about what’s next for the economy and how that will affect your business.

Slow down. You should be laser focused on maximizing what Jim Collins, in his book “Great by Choice,” calls your “return on luck” – one of the most important business concepts ever articulated.

30. Become Great by Choice -

There are those who continually improve their knowledge and skills and have accumulated 30 years experience. And then there are those who simply repeat their initial year of experience 30 times, learning very little along the way.

31. Funding Cut Underscores Gov. Divide -

Consider this the latest dust-up on the city-county government divide. Some Memphis City Council members who voted this week to end city funding for vehicle inspections at the end of June 2013 see the decision as one in a series of challenges to the long-held definition of what city government does and what county government does.

32. Council Approves Cut of City Funding For Vehicle Inspections -

Memphis City Council members voted Tuesday, Aug. 21, to end city funding for vehicle inspections at the end of June 2013.

The 10-2 council vote followed months of discussion among council members about Shelby County government or the state of Tennessee assuming responsibility for the car and truck inspections.

33. Herenton Wants Juvenile System Charter School -

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to open a charter school that draws its students from those youths in the custody or care of the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court.

Herenton talked about the still forming proposal for a charter school under the name W.E.B. DuBois Academy this week as he returned to City Hall. He sought City Council support for a Memphis City Schools collaboration with charter school operators offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. MCS leaders declined to participate last year.

34. City Budget Season Ends With Frustration -

The year of the “gap budget” at City Hall felt and sounded a lot like the previous two budget years at City Hall.

The mayor and City Council were frustrated even as the budget deliberations came to an end with a lowered city property tax rate.

35. Council Looks to End Budget Season -

Memphis City Council members are likely to end their budget season Tuesday, June 5, with final votes on an operating budget ordinance as well as a tax rate ordinance.

But going into the week there was no single budget proposal or tax rate proposal that had the formal endorsement of a majority on the council.

36. Differences Remain on City Tax Rate -

When the Memphis City Council’s budget committee gets together Tuesday, June 5, there probably will be agreement that the full council should not raise property taxes.

Instead, it should lower the property tax rate and should use more of the city’s $81 million reserve fund than Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration believes is prudent.

37. Council Weighs Three Tax Roll Back Proposals -

Three Memphis City Council members have presented plans that would roll back the city’s current property tax rate to varying degrees and come up with the city’s last mandatory funding to Memphis City Schools using differing combinations of one-time funds.

38. Council Looks at Four Budget Proposals -

The Memphis City Council begins talking seriously Tuesday, May 29, about at least four budget proposals already forwarded by individual council members and possibly more to be unveiled at a council budget committee session.

39. Budget Talks Turn to MCS Funding Issue -

If the city of Memphis has one more fiscal year of funding Memphis City Schools, it could be one-time-only funding instead of raising the city property tax rate.

After several years of Memphis City Council members debating the use of one-time-only funding to cover continuing expenses in the city’s operating budget, the coming schools consolidation that begins in August 2013 has prompted some new scenarios.

40. Council Pursues Alternatives To Tax Hike -

City Council member Ed Ford Jr.’s students finished their algebra tests this week and he took them to Chik-fil-A as a reward.

It is one of the few diversions Ford is allowing himself this budget season in which he and other council members are contemplating ways around the 47-cent property tax hike Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. has proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

41. Council Rejects 18 Cent Property Tax Hike -

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

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

42. Lawmakers Debate Pay Cutoff for Budget Gridlock -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Even the top sponsor of a bill that would cut off lawmakers' pay if they can't – or won't – pass a budget blueprint admits many of his colleagues think it's just a political talking point instead of a serious idea.

43. Elvis Presley Blvd. Center of Council Talks -

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

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

44. Sides Firm on Annexation but Stand Down -

A year after the Memphis City Council and Republican state legislators from Shelby County had their first race to see who could pass their school consolidation measures first, there is hesitancy on both sides to stage a second political drag race on annexation.

45. ‘Contrarian’ Collins Finds Success in Tough Market -

Doug Collins has always believed that the greatest opportunities are found in troubled times.

The president of Prudential Collins-Maury Inc. Realtors even classifies himself as “somewhat of a contrarian.”

46. In-Synk Book Club to Review 'Great by Choice' -

Leadership Memphis’ In-Synk book club will meet Friday, Jan. 13, at Triumph Bank, 5699 Poplar Ave., to review the new book by Jim Collins, “Great by Choice.”

47. Council Weighs In on Electrolux Incentives -

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

48. Council Cautious About City Finances -

Memphis City Council members set the tone for the beginning of a new four-year term of office at their next to last meeting of 2011.

And the message is the council intends to be an equal partner with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. in setting the city’s fiscal priorities, not waiting and then voting his proposals up or down.

49. Council Passes Amended City Bonus, Rejects Water Rate Hike -

Memphis City Council members approved a $750 flat bonus for all full time city employees Tuesday, Dec. 6, and a flat bonus of $200 for part time city employees.

Just as the Shelby County Commission did Monday for county employees, the council departed from the mayoral administration’s plan for a bonus as a percentage of pay.

50. Occupy Protests Cost Nation's Cities at Least $13M -

NEW YORK (AP) – During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

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

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

52. City Council Delays MLGW Insurance Contract -

A fight for a $122 million health insurance contract that began last year continued last week as the Memphis City Council delayed approval of the contract between CIGNA and Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

53. Vote for Me -

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

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

54. Debt-Limit Votes: Senate Momentum, House Concerns -

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House began debate Monday on the hard-bargained plan to avert a national financial default, even as the White House and congressional leaders struggled to round up enough votes to approve it. Supporters said momentum for the deficit-reduction compromise was on their side, but resistance from both liberals and conservatives made the outcome unclear.

55. Boyd Moves Into Temp. Council Seat -

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

56. 4 Council Members - All 3 City Court Judges To Run Unopposed In Oct. Elections -

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

57. Last-Minute Filers Make Election Deadline -

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

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

58. After Early Zeal, TV Networks Pull Back Web Series -

NEW YORK (AP) – Around 2007, TV networks made a land rush to the Web, looking to lay down digital production studios. Four years later, many of those networks have pulled up stakes, shunning original Web content and reorienting their online outlook.

59. Pieces of the Puzzle -

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

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

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

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

61. Council Approves City Budget With One Time 18 Cent Tax Hike - Memphis City Council members approved a $661.4 million operating budget and added 18 cents on top of the city property tax rate, although they insist it is a one time only tax hike to pay money owed the Memphis City Schools in the upcoming budget year.

62. Council to Consider Sewer Fee, Postponing Layoffs -

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

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

63. Council Wants Mediation of MCS Funding Dispute -

Mediation is the latest direction in a complex school funding morass that is getting more complex by the day.

Memphis City Council members Tuesday voted to have their attorney file a motion in Chancery Court seeking non-binding mediation on how and how much the city should pay the Memphis City Schools (MCS) system in a two-year funding dispute.

64. Business Sense -

Mark Luttrell has a little more than eight weeks under his belt as Shelby County mayor, and he’s spent much of that time on things that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

65. Midtown CVS Approved By Council -

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

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

66. Gaining Speed -

For years the Whitehaven community has been fighting against urban decay, crime and economic decline, including the effects of the recent recession.

But with ambitious plans for Graceland in the offing, committed political leadership in place and cooperation from the major players in the area, Whitehaven seems poised to turn an important corner.

67. Checks Will be Coming: Jobless Benefits Renewed -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal checks could begin flowing again as early as next week to millions of jobless people who lost up to seven weeks of unemployment benefits in a congressional standoff.

68. Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears Hurdle -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Legislation to restore unemployment benefits to millions who have been out of work for more than six months broke free of Senate Republican delaying tactics on Tuesday.

Senators voted 60-40 to move ahead on the bill, clearing the way for a final Senate vote later on Tuesday. The measure would restore jobless checks for 2.5 million people whose benefits started running out seven weeks ago in a stubbornly jobless economic recovery.

69. City Council Rejects Cap On Tuition Reimbursement -

Memphis City Council members rejected a plan by the Wharton administration Tuesday to cap tuition reimbursement for city employees at $1,400 per worker.

The council move came after funding for the city’s tuition reimbursement program was cut from $1.4 million last fiscal year to $500,000 in the fiscal year that began July 1.

70. Renaissance Avenue -

When Larry Schmitt bought a two-story building on the corner of Broad Avenue and Collins Street in 1993, he knew the place needed some TLC.

71. Council Makes Minor Budget Changes -

Memphis City Council members Tuesday made a few changes to the new city budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. But coming up with $57 million in funding for the Memphis school system wasn’t one of them.

72. Strickland Attempts To Reopen City Budget -

Memphis City Council members closed out their budget season two weeks ago, but council member Jim Strickland will take one more try at amending the budget plan at Tuesday’s council session.

73. Council Battles Funding Issues -

As Memphis political leaders made another trip to Nashville this week seeking money for The MED, others questioned the hospital’s life expectancy.

Memphis City Council members this week delayed a vote on $2 million in emergency funding for The MED until April.

74. MED MCS Funding Swap Proposal Emerges -

Some Memphis City Council members are working with Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford on a deal in which county government would become the single source of local funding for the Memphis school system. In exchange for that the city would contribute some amount of funding to the Regional Medical Center.

75. UPDATE: MED MCS Funding Swap Proposal Surfaces -

Some Memphis City Council members are working with Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford on a deal in which county government would become the single source of local funding for the Memphis school system. In exchange for that the city would contribute some amount of funding to the Regional Medical Center.

76. MED Funding a State Issue, Leaders Say -

The issue of double taxation reared its head this week as a plan to provide $12 million in local emergency funding for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis scored $10 million.

The county funding cleared the Shelby County Commission on a 9-3 vote after lots of debate Monday.

77. School Funding Debate Marches On -

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

78. School Funding Delay Could Rear Up Again -

The Memphis City Council appears poised to pay the city school system $70 million despite voting two weeks ago to delay such a payment.

But the terms of the payment remains an issue.

Today’s council session begins at 3:30 pm at City Hall, 125 N. Main. An agenda for the meeting is on Page 11.

79. Appeals Court Ruling Raises More School Funding Issues -

In the 19 months since the Memphis City Council voted to cut funding to the Memphis public school system, much has changed beyond the borders of the legal issue it raised and the lawsuit it prompted.

80. Tn Appeals Court Rules MCS Owed $50 Million By City -

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled the city of Memphis owes the Memphis school system $50 million in funding by the end of June.

The ruling filed today in Jackson, Tenn. affirms an earlier decision by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong and is likely to be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court or the city could ask the Appeals Court to take a second look at its decision.

81. UPDATE: Appeals Court Backs MCS In Funding Lawsuit -

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled the city of Memphis owes the Memphis school system $50 million in funding by the end of June.

The ruling filed today in Jackson, Tenn. affirms an earlier decision by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong and is likely to be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court or the city could ask the Appeals Court to take a second look at its decision.

82. 2009 Year In Review -

2009 was a year without a script – and plenty of improvising on the political stage.

It was supposed to be an off-election year except in Arlington and Lakeland.

2008 ended with voters in the city and county approving a series of changes to the charters of Memphis and Shelby County governments. Those changes were supposed to set a new direction for both entities, kicking into high gear in 2010 and ultimately culminating two years later.

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

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

84. City Leaders Grapple With Public Safety, Blight Issues -

Memphis City Council members are among civic leaders now pondering the next step beyond Blue CRUSH, the Memphis Police Department’s strategy credited with a 17 percent drop in overall crime in the city since 2006.

85. City’s Dilemma: Fight Crime or Bust Blight? -

Some Memphis City Council members question whether the city’s crackdown on crime is coming at the expense of efforts to eliminate or prevent blight in neighborhoods.

That sentiment surfaced in a council committee session this week. It came the same week that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. talked of an emerging anti-crime strategy at his first town hall meeting.

86. A City in Transition -

Just before sunrise on a rainy Tuesday morning, the armed officers raided the city office. They didn’t make any arrests, but they took files, interviewed employees and served search warrants. And they temporarily closed the Memphis Animal Shelter.

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

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

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

88. Events -

In-Synk will host a live telecast of Jim Collin’s keynote address at the Gazelles/Fortune Small Business Growth Summit today at 8 a.m. at The Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave., Suite 909. Collins is author of “Good to Great” and will discuss his latest discoveries in studying small- and mid-sized companies that have thrived. Cost is $75. To register, visit in-synkcollinstelecast.eventbrite.com or call 276-0200.

89. City Mayoral Transition Yields Crowded To-Do List -  

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. will be appointing a new city attorney once he takes office next week.

Elbert Jefferson, the city attorney Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery tried to fire just minutes after taking the oath of office on July 31, Friday sent a second resignation letter to Lowery. The two met for an hour Sunday evening at City Hall and Lowery accepted Jefferson’s resignation.

Jefferson’s attorney, Ted Hansom, and city Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons were also present. Jefferson turned in his key card, the keys to his city car and his laptop.

“The drama is over,” Lowery said Monday. “For my part, I wish it had never happened.”

Dramatis personae

In a resignation letter last week to Wharton, Jefferson had expressed hope that he would be hired for some position in the new administration. Over the weekend, he used the same text in the new letter but addressed it to Lowery instead. He requested the city pay his legal fees as well.

The resignation letter to Lowery made moot an ouster suit filed by Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. Criminal Court Judge James Lammey, who was to hear the case, reset a final report to Oct. 27, citing Jefferson’s departure.

“A hearing on the issue of suspension would be an inefficient use of judicial resources, of the state of Tennessee and of the resources of the city of Memphis, and considering (Jefferson’s) current health status, would be an unnecessary tax on (Jefferson’s) well-being and a possible threat to his health,” Lammey wrote in the court order.

Jefferson was scheduled to return to City Hall from sick leave Monday. He apparently believed the new mayor would be in office by the time he returned.

An audit of city financial affairs is standard procedure in a change of administrations. Wharton is naming team members to review the offices of the city attorney, human resources and finance and administration. He was also to name members of his transition team Monday.

Time-, battle-tested

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter and Methodist Healthcare executive Cato Johnson will head the team.

The other members are:

- Herman Morris, attorney and 2007 candidate for Memphis Mayor.

- Tomeka Hart, Memphis Urban League CEO and Memphis school board member.

- Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis City Council member.

- Rev. Dwight Montgomery, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis chapter President.

- Jose Velasquez, Latino Memphis former executive director.

- Nisha Powers, Powers Hill Design Inc. President.

- Paul Morris, attorney and former chairman Center City Commission.

- Douglas Scarboro, The Leadership Academy vice president.

- Steve Reynolds, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. CEO.

- Diane Rudner, Plough Foundation chairman.

- Darrell Cobbins, Universal Commercial CEO.

Johnson has more experience serving on such task forces and ad hoc committees than any other leader in the city’s corporate community. Most recently, Johnson was one of two business leaders on the ad hoc committee exploring single-source local funding for education. He also served as a leader of the Mid-South Fairgrounds renovation committee and has been involved in similar capacities with every major construction project for a civic use in the past 15 years.

Carpenter’s appointment is certain to fuel speculation that he might be tapped for some role in the new administration. However, Carpenter has already been holding fundraisers in anticipation of a bid for re-election to his commission seat in the 2010 county elections.

Wharton is tentatively scheduled to take the oath of office Oct. 26.

The Shelby County Commission also meets that same day and could receive Wharton’s resignation and declare a vacancy in the county mayor’s office with a vote to appoint Wharton’s successor-to-come in November. Until that vote, County Commission Chairwoman Joyce Avery will serve as interim mayor.

“It will be a day in which I come to work at one place and leave work from another place,” Wharton told The Daily News.

But the Shelby County Election Commission will meet earlier than expected -- Thursday afternoon -- to certify the Oct. 15 election results. Once the results are certified, Wharton is free to resign as Shelby County mayor and take the oath as Memphis mayor.

Cooperative efforts

Meanwhile, Wharton has asked City Council Chairman Harold Collins to consider delaying a council vote today on the five appointees the city mayor is to make to a metro charter commission. The council set today’s vote with the intention of having whomever won the Oct. 15 special election appoint members of the panel.

“I won’t be there on the 20th. … I’m seeing if they are in a position to put it off until I’m actually over there,” Wharton told The Daily News, as he has had attorneys researching if a council vote in November would meet timelines for such an effort set out in state law.

“I believe that they may be able to meet on Nov. 3,” Wharton said.

Wharton has already named the 10 appointees to be made by the Shelby County mayor to the panel. The County Commission approved all 10 earlier this month.

While it appears he will make the other five, Wharton said he will ask the council, through Collins, to effectively pick the five nominees, whom Wharton would then send to the council as his appointees.

“I chose all 10 over here, which I had to do by law. If I could find some way around it that passed legal muster, then I would do that,” he said. “But we’ve researched it and I know of no way in which the city mayor can say … ‘I’m not going to do that.’ You can’t transfer it.”

Wharton and Lowery were to discuss the matter at a meeting Monday afternoon. Lowery told The Daily News he had received no suggested appointees from council members, but would be willing to submit names the council wants on the charter commission.

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90. Events -

Burke’s Book Store will host a reading and book signing with Jill McCorkle today from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Burke’s, 936 S. Cooper St. McCorkle will read from her new book, “Going Away Shoes.” For more information, call 278-7484.

91. Events -

The University of Memphis College of Communication and Fine Arts will recognize filmmaker Craig Brewer today at 11:30 a.m. at Charles Vergos Rendezvous, 52 S. Second St. Brewer will receive the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award in the Creative and Performing Arts. Cost is $50 per person and $350 for a table of eight. For reservations, call 678-5086 or 678-4372.

92. Dress Newest Pathologist At Pathology Group of the MidSouth -

Dr. Matthew A. Dress has joined Pathology Group of the MidSouth PC as its newest pathologist.

Before joining Pathology Group of the MidSouth, Dress served as the chief resident in anatomic and clinical pathology at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Tennessee. He then completed a fellowship in hematopathology at the University of Rochester Medical Center-Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. 

93. Election Commission to Consider Mayoral Deadline -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

96. There Goes the Neighborhood: New hope emerges in one of Memphis’ roughest areas -

Hope and despair have co-existed for a long time along the stretch of Poplar Avenue between Danny Thomas Boulevard and Decatur Street. And for the past two years, the area has seen more change than just about any other inner-city avenue in Memphis.

97. UPDATE: Council Goes Long to Approve $600 Million Budget -

The Memphis City Council late Tuesday approved a city operating budget of just over $600 milliion after cutting nearly $17 million from the budget proposed in April by Mayor Willie Herenton.

The council also set a property tax rate of $3.19 for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Some confusion about the new tax rate remained Wednesday morning among council members. At least one council member contacted by The Daily News immediately after the council session said it was a $3.25 tax rate. Council Chairman Myron Lowery told The Daily News Wednesday afternoon, the rate is $3.19.

The state adjusted certified rate including an allowance for appeals of property reappraisals is $3.19. The certified adjusted rate represents the tax rate that will produce the same amount of revenue the city now gets from the $3.25 rate after the recent property reappraisal process.

“This is democracy in action. In the end it works,” said Council chairman Myron Lowery at the end of the eight hour council session which followed seven hours of committee meetings at City Hall.

Lowery’s verdict, however, contrasted sharply with other council members on both sides of a roiling debate about where to make budget cuts.

Most of the $16 million in cuts were made by following recommendations made by the council’s budget committee chaired by Wanda Halbert. But the votes by the full council were close and came with lots of debate instead of a single vote on a package of budget committee recommendations.

Halbert said she was “deeply saddened we have spent so much of the past few weeks coming to City Hall every single day discussing this budget line by line.”

“Some of you weren’t even here,” she continued. “I’m tired. I’m behind on a lot of things.”

The council left intact three percent pay raises for city employees that follow the five percent raise city employees got during the current fiscal year after two prior years with no pay raises.

Some on the council fought hard to either eliminate any pay raises or cut the size of the pay raises citing the current national economic recession.

“Maybe some of us live in a world where we believe at the end of the day it will all work out just fine,” said Council member Harold Collins. “But it is unfortunate we have others who believe, ‘I’ve got to get mine and get it now.’”

Council member Jim Strickland argued that savings the council has achieved through moving some city funding obligations to Shelby County government have simply been used for more city spending.

“We’ve cut schools and spent it,” he said. “We cut the health department and spent it. The public is aware of this. And they’re not receiving relief from double taxation.”

Still to be debated and determined by the council is a proposed special tax bill that could be issued as early as August that would reflect the amount the council has been ordered to pay the city school system by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong. Armstrong ruled against the city in a city school system lawsuit challenging the council’s decision to cut funding to the school system in the current fiscal year. He ordered the city to pay $57 million to the city school system. The ruling is being appealed by the city and any payment is on hold pending the outcome of an appeal that is expected to go from the state appeals court to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

A special tax bill would not be for the full $57 million under the general framework of a plan being debated by the council. Collins proposed designating $16 million from the city’s $92 million fund balance or reserve fund.

“We don’t have a money tree here in the back of city hall and can’t afford to raise taxes indefinitely,” Council member Kemp Conrad said. “This hasn’t been pleasant but it’s what we signed up for. We have to make tough decisions.”

The council voted to contribute $125,000 in city funding for the transition of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) to county government control. In budget committee, the council voted to cut the entire $700,000 line item for the department. The committee action prompted an agreement between Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. to move the center to the health department.

The council also included funding in the budget for a set of red light cameras to photograph traffic scofflaws at key city traffic intersections. The cost for the first year of the system would be $480,000, a cost proponents of the system, including Lowery, have said would be paid for with revenues from ticket fines.

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98. Money Cut From Schools Considered for City Pay Raises -

When City Council members voted earlier this year to cut all funding to the Shelby County Health Department, the Herenton administration followed up.

It proposed and the County Commission accepted a plan to provide one last dose of city funding for the county agency in exchange for a buyout of the county’s share of The Pyramid.

99. Pyramid Funding Details Shift to Legal Front -

Now the attorneys begin drafting a contract.

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

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

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