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Editorial Results (free)

1. Council Pans City Garbage Proposal -

The administration of Mayor A C Wharton Jr. calls it SMART – Save Money And Reduce Trash. It’s a rebranding of the slow move to a pay-as-you-throw concept for city garbage and trash pickup.

2. Training Ground -

You can’t perfectly simulate a real-life disaster. Dr. Joe Holley knows this better than most.

3. Council Takes First Steps on Pension, Insurance -

The first votes by the Memphis City Council this week on righting the city’s financial affairs were tentative steps, making it hard to predict whether there will be seven votes to pass dramatic changes in city pensions and health care insurance.

4. Council Begins Decisions on City Financial Changes -

Memphis City Council members took the first steps Tuesday, June 3, toward major changes in pension benefits for city employees and began delving into the details of even broader changes in health insurance coverage for city employees and retirees.

5. 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.

6. Nominations Open for Dunavant Public Service Awards -

The 11th annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards in 2014 will be awarded against a backdrop of the largest election ballot in Shelby County history.

The once-every-eight-year August ballot features not only county races held every four years but judicial offices for terms of eight years, U.S. Senate primaries and primaries in the governor’s race.

7. Council Debates Restoring MATA Service -

A day before the board of the Memphis Area Transit Authority votes on significant cuts in bus and trolley service, the Memphis City Council will review $2.1 million in capital spending for the authority.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. New TSA Policy on Knives, Bats Sparks Backlash -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and even insurance companies are part of a growing backlash to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives and sports equipment like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs onto planes.

12. 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.

13. Blue CRUSH Cuts Point to Larger Divide -

Crime numbers may be the most politically volatile set of statistics elected officials can debate or rely on.

The statistics mean little to someone who has been a crime victim. But they are a way of validating whether public money is being spent effectively. On the other hand, how crimes are counted always will be debated.

14. Council Reconsiders Golf Course Closings -

Four city golf courses were scheduled to close for the winter season on Dec. 1, with one of the four – Whitehaven – to close permanently.

That was the decision the Memphis City Council made last spring as it set the city budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

15. 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.

16. Tax Hike At Center Of Budget Debate -

Even as he made his case for a 47-cent property tax hike Tuesday, April 17, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. outlined alternatives to the full tax hike.

“This is a product in progress,” he said after his annual budget address.

17. Wharton Budget Plan Includes Alternatives To 47 Cent Tax Hike -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. took a $628.3 million city operating budget proposal Tuesday, April 17 to the Memphis City Council with a 47-cent property tax hike proposed to meet the city’s obligation to fund Memphis City Schools.

18. Council Rejects 18 Cent Property Tax Hike -

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

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

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. Council Delays Pay Cut Rollback -

The move to federal court by the 13 municipal unions representing city employees led the Memphis City Council this week to delay any action to resolve a contract impasse with the firefighters union or to consider rolling back a 4.6 percent pay cut effective this month for all employees.

23. 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.

24. City Council Still Debating Budget Decision -

In some ways, the city budget season isn’t over just yet.

Memphis City Council member Joe Brown moved Tuesday, July 5, to reverse an effective 4.6 percent pay cut for city employees through 12 unpaid furlough days.

25. 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.

26. Conrad’s City Budget Plan Offers Balance -

At week’s end, Memphis City Council members and Shelby County commissioners were each moving toward final votes next week on budgets for both local governments.

And each body is debating whether to do what’s necessary to balance their respective budgets before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year or to dig deeper for long-term shifts in the scope of their governments.

27. 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.

28. Dear Santa -

Dear Santa, Please consider my gift list for our local elected officials. After all, they’ve been giving it to us all year.

To all: Common Sense – a simple grid for MATA routes, consolidated city and county services, cutting the grass, sidewalk maintenance, paying attention to review board and appointed commission recommendations.

29. Public Employees Challenge Politicians’ Ideas -

Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland has withdrawn a proposal to solicit bids by nonprofit organizations to run some of the city’s community centers.

30. 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.

...

31. County Commission to Consider Strip Club Restrictions -

Shelby County Commissioners are scheduled to take a final vote today on an ordinance that would better define restrictions on where strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses can locate in the county.

32. 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.

33. Metro Backers, Foes Seek Advice From Jacksonville -

Nobody is ready to draft any metro charter language just yet.

But the consolidation debate and discussion among the 15 members of the Metro Charter Commission warmed considerably this month with a visit to Memphis by the general counsel for the city of Jacksonville, Fla.

34. 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.

35. 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.

36. 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.

37. 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.

38. County Mayor Race Clarifies With Byrd’s ‘Agonizing’ Decision -

A month before the filing deadline for the 2010 Shelby County primaries, and the race for county mayor is beginning to take shape.

And one of the candidates who weighed the race but got out – Bank of Bartlett President Harold Byrd – said something is missing from the field so far.

39. 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.

40. 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.

41. Morris Confirmed As City Atty. -

Memphis Mayor elect A C Wharton Jr. was put to the test by Memphis City Council members before he even takes office.

The council approved his indirect nomination of Herman Morris as the new city attorney.

And it approved his five indirect nominees to the Metro Charter Commission.

But there was a lot of discussion among council members this afternoon and evening about:

-Morris being paid $140,000 a year as city attorney, $15 thousand more than his predecessor, Elbert Jefferson.

-Whether Morris was the choice of outgoing Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery or Wharton. The answer was Wharton with Lowery making the appointment since he is still mayor.

In another rapid move, Wharton and Lowery teamed up to appoint the five city of Memphis representatives to the Metro Charter Commission. All five nominees were recommended by members of the City Council. Normally, the council votes on such groups of nominees to one body with a single vote on the slate. The council voted separately on all five.

The original five nominees were:

-Damon Griffin, an assistant District Attorney General.

-Carmen Sandoval, an administrative director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

-Steve Ross, a freelance video and technical director who also has a popular political blog.

-Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis city council member.

-Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church and candidate for Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk in past elections as well as in the 2010 elections.

Strickland was named just this week to Wharton’s transition team. But he is giving up the transition team spot to serve on the charter group. Council members Bill Boyd and Joe Brown voted against Strickland’s appointment saying they considered it to be a conflict of interest for an elected official to serve on the commission. Brown didn’t vote on the other nominations. Council member Wanda Halbert passed on Strickland.

Ross encountered vocal resistance during committee sessions from council members upset with critical comments he has made on his blog about council members. Council member Shea Flinn, who recommended Ross, came to his defense during an emotional committee discussion – clashing with Brown as Lowery and Wharton watched from the end of the council committee table.

“I’m a real man,” Brown told Flinn at the end of the exchange. “I’m a real black man. I hope you are a real white man.”

By the time the council voted, Wharton and Lowery decided to pull his nomination and instead nominated Richard Smith, a FedEx executive and son of FedEx founder Fred Smith. Council member Janis Fullilove was the only no vote. Halbert recused herself because she works at FedEx. Brown and Boyd did not vote.

...

42. Wharton Picks Morris for City Attorney Post -  

Memphis Mayor elect A C Wharton Jr. was put to the test by Memphis City Council members before he even takes office.

The council Tuesday approved his indirect nomination of Herman Morris as the new city attorney. And it approved his five indirect nominees to the Metro Charter Commission.

But there was a lot of discussion among council members this afternoon and evening about:

  • Morris being paid $140,000 a year as city attorney, $15 thousand more than his predecessor, Elbert Jefferson.
  • Whether Morris was the choice of outgoing Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery or Wharton. The answer was Wharton with Lowery making the appointment since he is still mayor.

In another rapid move, Wharton and Lowery teamed up to appoint the five city of Memphis representatives to the Metro Charter Commission. All five nominees were recommended by members of the City Council. Normally, the council votes on such groups of nominees to one body with a single vote on the slate. The council voted separately on all five.

The original five nominees were:

  • Damon Griffin, an assistant District Attorney General.
  • Carmen Sandoval, an administrative director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
  • Steve Ross, a freelance video and technical director who also has a popular political blog.
  • Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis city council member.
  • Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church and candidate for Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk in past elections as well as in the 2010 elections.

Strickland was named just this week to Wharton’s transition team. But he is giving up the transition team spot to serve on the charter group. Council members Bill Boyd and Joe Brown voted against Strickland’s appointment saying they considered it to be a conflict of interest for an elected official to serve on the commission. Brown didn’t vote on the other nominations. Council member Wanda Halbert passed on Strickland.

Ross encountered vocal resistance during committee sessions from council members upset with critical comments he has made on his blog about council members. Council member Shea Flinn, who recommended Ross, came to his defense during an emotional committee discussion – clashing with Brown as Lowery and Wharton watched from the end of the council committee table.

“I’m a real man,” Brown told Flinn at the end of the exchange. “I’m a real black man. I hope you are a real white man.”

By the time the council voted, Wharton and Lowery decided to pull his nomination and instead nominated Richard Smith, a FedEx executive and son of FedEx founder Fred Smith. Council member Janis Fullilove was the only no vote. Halbert recused herself because she works at FedEx. Brown and Boyd did not vote.

...

43. A Mayor’s Race to Remember: Candidates pump up the drama as election nears -

The field is set at 25 candidates and Memphians start voting Sept. 25 in a mayor’s race that has been neither a surprise nor the expected.

But there’s no guarantee the election will settle what the post-Willie Herenton era will look like. Too many other events still have to be decided.

44. Mayor’s Race Gets ‘Crazy’ As Election Day Approaches -

“It’s crazy now,” Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery told members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association last week.

Lowery was contemplating the possibility of more than 30 candidates in the Oct. 15 special election for mayor. He described it as “the circus that’s getting ready to happen in this city.”

45. 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.

46. 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.

47. 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.

48. Biden: Council Will Help Auto Workers Get New Jobs -

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (AP) - A new government council will help auto industry workers transition to new manufacturing opportunities, including jobs in alternative energy, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

49. 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.

50. 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.

51. 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.

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

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

53. Council Again Rejects Lee Legal Fees -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

56. Gun Control a Gray Area Between McCain, Obama -

BOSTON (AP) - John McCain supports background checks for buyers at gun shows and has his name on a law restricting special-interest group advertising, two positions strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association.

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

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

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

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

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

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

59. School Board Pleads for Funding – Again -

Since Friday, members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education and the Memphis City Council have continued haggling over the council’s decision earlier this month to withhold more than $70 million from the school district’s budget.

60. Pay Raise Requests Raise Council Eyebrows -

Memphis City Council members had some hard questions this week for the first Herenton administration division directors to bring their budget requests to the council.

The council's focus shifted just two days after it turned its attention to the possibility of wiping out all $90 million in city funding for the Memphis school system.

61. Attorney General To Defend Strip Club Ordinance -

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

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

62. City Council Puts Off Strip Club Ordinance Vote -

The Memphis City Council has delayed indefinitely a final vote on a new city ordinance governing strip clubs.

Tuesday's 7-5 vote to table the ordinance means a county ordinance banning beer sales at the clubs enacted last year remains in effect for the city of Memphis as well as the unincorporated county.

63. City Council Puts Off Strip Club Ordinance Vote -

The Memphis City Council has delayed indefinitely a final vote on a new city ordinance governing strip clubs.

This afternoon's 7-5 vote to table the ordinance means a county ordinance banning beer sales at the clubs enacted last year remains in effect for the city of Memphis as well as the unincorporated county.

64. City Council Races Overflow With 83 Candidates Filing -

It's the year of the open seat on the Memphis City Council.

With seven incumbents not running for re-election and the resignation last month of an eighth, it is already the biggest turnover of council seats in the 40-year history of the mayor-council form of government.

65. Things Go From Hot To Smoking Hot In Election Contests -

With one week to the filing deadline for the Oct. 4 Memphis city elections, 124 citizens have thought seriously enough about running for the 15 offices on the ballot to check out qualifying petitions. Nearly 40 had filed by the end of the first week.