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Editorial Results (free)

1. Politics Continues After County Primaries -

A lot of the candidates from the Shelby County primary ballot were in the same room the day after the Tuesday, May 6, election.

The occasion was County Commission committee sessions.

It was mostly winners.

2. 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.

3. Malone Takes Early Vote In Mayoral Primary -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone took the early vote in the three-way Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor.

The first results of the Tuesday, May 6, election night showed Malone leading rivals county commissioner Steve Mulroy and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr.

4. Obama Backs Cohen, Brooks Charges ‘Voter Suppression’ -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is touting the endorsement of President Barack Obama in his current re-election bid.

5. May County Primary Ballot Set -

The ballot for the May Shelby County primary elections was completed Wednesday, March 5, as the Shelby County Election Commission disqualified a County Commission candidate whose attorney argued that she intended to but never did live in the district she hoped to represent.

6. Election Commission Approves All But Three Names For May Primaries -

Shelby County Election Commissioners certified all but three names Thursday, Feb. 27, for the May county primary ballot and will meet March 5 to consider challenges to the residency of candidates Edith Ann Moore, M. Latroy Williams and E. Jefferson Jones.

7. Consolidation Talk Surfaces as Races Come to Life -

Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy says he would pursue city and county government consolidation if elected Shelby County mayor.

Mulroy made the comment at a Cooper-Young fundraiser as campaigns leading into the May county primaries came to life this week.

8. 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.

9. Three Town Center Concepts Take Shape -

The city of Memphis would move government offices into two shopping malls and the Soulsville Town Center under tentative “conceptual” plans Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. took Tuesday, Feb. 18, to the Memphis City Council.

10. Southbrook Mall Plan Headed to City Council -

What began as a plan last year for $1.5 million in city funding to fix the roof and make other repairs at Whitehaven’s Southbrook Mall has now become a larger and probably more expensive plan for development in a broad area of Whitehaven.

11. Sesley-Baymon Named CEO of Memphis Urban League -

Tonja Sesley-Baymon has been appointed president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League by its board of directors. Sesley-Baymon, who has worked with the league for eight years, previously served as programs director for the 70-year-old organization. In her new role, she will provide executive leadership to the league and advocate on behalf of social justice and economic issues affecting Memphis.

12. Current Elections Merge With Future Campaigns -

The campaigns for elections in 2013 are beginning to overlap with campaigns on the ballot in 2014.

The set of 11 elections in three months ends with the Nov. 21 special general election for state House District 91 and a citywide referendum on a half percent sales tax hike.

13. Democrats ‘Roast’ Herenton, Look Ahead to 2014 -

Divisions within the local Democratic party took a backseat over the weekend as the Shelby County Democratic Party held the first of two large fundraisers for the 2014 election year.

But the look back for the party came with some advice for the future.

14. Weddle-West Voted GRE Board Chair-Elect -

Dr. Karen Weddle-West, dean of the graduate school, vice provost for academic affairs and director of diversity initiatives at the University of Memphis, has been voted chair-elect of the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Board. The national board establishes all policies for the GRE program, the most widely used graduate-school admissions test, and oversees GRE assessments, services and research.

15. Events -

Kiwanis Club of Memphis will meet Wednesday, Sept. 18, from noon to 1 p.m. at The University Club of Memphis, 1346 Central Ave. William Rodney of Medicos will speak. Cost is $18 for nonmembers.

16. Country Songwriters Event Benefits St. Jude, Le Bonheur -

The Darryl Worley and Friends Songwriters’ Event featuring country music songwriters Darryl Worley, Mark D. Sanders, Rob Crosby and Jim “Moose” Brown will take place Tuesday, June 26, at 7 p.m. at Bumpus Harley-Davidson, 325 S. Byhalia Road in Collierville.

17. Deadline Looms For Candidates In March Primaries -

There is the paperwork and there are the deadlines in politics. And then there are the campaigns that begin long before the paperwork or deadlines.

One group of candidates in the 2012 election cycle is approaching its first deadline Thursday, Dec. 8, at noon – the filing deadline for the March 6 county primaries.

18. Countywide School Board List Hits 100 -

Shelby County Commissioners are preparing for a long afternoon Wednesday, Sept. 7, as they interview applicants for the seven seats the commission will fill on the new countywide school board.

The interview sessions before the general government committee chaired by commissioner Mike Carpenter begin at noon.

19. County Commission to Select Leaders -

Shelby County Commissioners settle the simmering political question of who will lead the 13-member body for another year at their Monday, July 11, meeting.

On Monday’s agenda is the election of a chairman and a chairman pro tempore for the year-long term that begins Sept. 1.

20. Herenton Highlights North Memphis Townhall Turned Rally -

There have been question and answer sessions this week – debates and townhall meetings on the schools referendum.

But a townhall meeting in North Memphis Thursday evening turned into a campaign rally for the Memphis City Schools charter surrender on the March 8 ballot.

21. Cleaborn Conversion Keeps Eye On Residents, Developer Says -

Every brick is still in place at Cleaborn Homes. But the preparation for the coming demolition of one of the city’s last two large public housing projects is already under way.

The project manager for the federally funded conversion of Cleaborn to mixed-use, mixed-income development said he and the other developers are working on preparing the residents for the day they leave the development but hopefully not the neighborhood.

22. Fleet Services Rife With Improprieties -

Two days after his administration brought in a lease agreement with Bass Pro Shops for The Pyramid, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. went public with a City Hall scandal.

The scandal has been simmering since January when Wharton dismissed General Services Director Estrice Boone, who was one of the first two division directors under former Mayor Willie Herenton let go by Wharton.

23. County Declines $11.6 Million in Federal Bonds -

Shelby County government will take a pass on $11.6 million in federal recovery zone economic development bonds.

The Ford administration withdrew a resolution Monday recommending the bonds be reallocated by the state to the city of Memphis. The withdrawal came after several Shelby County commissioners questioned whether county government couldn’t come up with its own list of projects for the money.

24. Great Oaks Church of Christ Begins Work on New Wing -

3355 Brunswick Road
Bartlett, TN 38133
Loan Amount: $1 million
Loan Date: June 16, 2010
Maturity Date: June 10, 2011
Borrower: Great Oaks Church of Christ
Lender: BancorpBank South

25. MATA Files $9.1M Permit For South Intermodal Terminal -

The Memphis Area Transit Authority was issued a $9.1 million permit by the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for its South Intermodal Terminal at 3033 Airways Blvd. near Memphis International Airport.

26. 2010 -

Is it over yet? That may be the most frequently asked question in the New Year. “It” is the worst national economic recession since the Great Depression.

Accurately reading the indicators will not be easy. Some will predict the recession is about to end, just as new indicators point to continuing economic agony for thousands of Memphians.

27. Ford Wins Appointment as County Mayor -

Joe Ford’s picture on the fourth floor of the Shelby County Administration Building came down minutes after he won the appointment Tuesday as interim Shelby County mayor.

28. Joe Ford Claims County Mayor's Office -

A long time goal of the Ford political organization was realized Tuesday afternoon when Shelby County Commissioner Joe Ford was appointed interim Shelby County Mayor effective Dec. 10.

29. UPDATE: Joe Ford To Become County Mayor -

A long time goal of the Ford political organization was realized Tuesday afternoon when Shelby County Commissioner Joe Ford was appointed interim Shelby County Mayor effective Dec. 10.

30. 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.

31. It’s Now or Never for Voter Registration -

Today is the last day to register to vote in the Oct. 15 special mayoral election.

Early voting begins Sept. 25 with much speculation about how the large field of 25 contenders will affect voter turnout and how the votes are divided.

32. Braking Point: Inside MATA's identity crisis -

The bus system in Memphis has an undeserved “mythology,” according to the people who run it. However, some who ride Memphis Area Transit Authority buses everyday – and many who don’t – contend the system is far from perfect.

33. Commission Approves Tax Rate, Names New Chairman -

Shelby County Commissioners approved a county property tax rate of $4.02 on the third and final reading this week.

The rate is two cents higher than the state certified tax rate of $4, which is the rate the state estimated would produce the same amount of revenue under the recent property reappraisal as the old rate of $4.04. The certified rate included an allowance for appeals of reappraisals.

34. MATA Files Permit for Airport Terminal -

The Memphis Area Transit Authority has reached another milestone in the development of its South Intermodal Terminal near Memphis International Airport.

Months after clearing structures off the 9-acre site, MATA has filed a $10 million building permit for the 29,000-square-foot facility at 3033 Airways Blvd., at the intersection of Airways and Brooks Road.

35. Thompson Gets Six Month Jail Sentence -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson was sentenced this evening to six months in prison and fined $10,000 for telling executive of a Jackson, Tn. construction company that he could influence votes on the Memphis school board.

Thompson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla on one count of mail fraud.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could have been sentenced to 21-27 months in prison.

But the plea deal from Thompson's February guilty plea would have allowed Thompson to withdraw his guilty plea if he was sentenced to more than a year and a day in jail. McCalla could have rejected it and the case would have moved toward trial. But McCalla accepted the recommendation of the prosecution and defense to depart from the guidelines.

"I'm here to accept responsibilities for my actions," Thompson told McCalla before the sentence was imposed. "I never expected to be here. ... My reputation has certainly taken a beating. I've spent 25 years building a reputation that's certainly been trashed."

Thompson termed his criminal behavior an "anomaly." His attorney, Leslie Ballin, argued for probation.

McCalla agreed Thompson's behavior in the case was "aberrant." But he also said a prison sentence was called for as a deterrent.

"This is a difficult concept. It only works if people know what happens," McCalla said, referring to the certainty of jail time.

Leaders of H&M Construction Company, who hired Thompson in 2004 to win a contract to build three Memphis city schools had some vocal misgivings about what Thompson was doing.

The reservations are detailed in an excerpt from an FBI report in what became a federal corruption case.

The FBI report excerpt, also known as a “302,” was filed as part of Ballin’s argument that Thompson should avoid prison time and instead be sentenced to probation.

Back and forth

Thompson admitted taking $7,000 in 2004 from two construction firms, H&M Construction and Salton-Fox Construction of Memphis. The payment was made to Thompson after he told the companies’ executives he could control votes on the Memphis City Schools board because of his position as a county commissioner. The companies, working in partnership, were seeking the construction contract.

Thompson quibbled about his precise role, according to the FBI report on its interview with James E. Campbell of H&M.

“I’m not lobbying, I’m consulting,” Campbell quoted Thompson as saying.

Campbell drew up a consulting contract, but Thompson never signed it.

Campbell had five meetings with Thompson when he spotted Thompson on H&M’s parking lot in Jackson talking with another company official, Dewitt Day. Thompson asked Campbell what he thought about making campaign contributions to four school board members.

“It looks like this for that,” Campbell remembered replying.

He said Thompson’s response was, “It’s legal to do.”

Campbell planned to write the campaign contribution checks and “it was agreed Thompson would deliver the checks to the recipients.”

“While writing the first check, Campbell decided it didn’t look good for H&M to give campaign contributions to these individuals,” the FBI report reads. “Campbell then thought about using H&M subcontractors to give the contributions but ultimately decided Day could give the $7,000 to his relatives in Memphis and have them deliver the contributions in their name.”

Day “grabbed” $7,000 and drove to Memphis, according to the FBI. His brother-in-law also didn’t like the looks of the money exchange and consulted attorney and former Memphis City Council member John Bobango.

“Bobango advised Day not to give these campaign contributions because H&M already had the (school board) votes to win approval,” the FBI 302 reads. Campbell told Thompson and others, including construction executive Kirby Salton, that the deal was off.

“Thompson and Salton went on to say that the four individuals would be disappointed and Campbell got the impression the ‘votes could go the other way,’” according to the report. It was Thompson’s conduct during the conference call that broke the law, Ballin conceded.

Campbell then wrote Salton a check for $7,000 and “never questioned Salton on whether he delivered the campaign contribution to the four individuals.”

Money differences

Ballin argued in his position paper that Thompson’s sentence should be determined based on the $7,000 instead of the more than $250,000 Thompson was paid by the two construction firms. He also contended Thompson wasn’t using his office as a county commissioner to influence the school board.

“H&M suffered no loss and Thompson only received the fair market value of services rendered by way of his arms-length consulting contract,” Ballin wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza disagreed on the harm done even if Thompson didn’t influence the outcome.

“Whether or not campaign contributions were required to be given in order for H&M Construction Company to win contract approval is irrelevant, as it is uncontested that the defendant conveyed to H&M .... managers that said contributions would in fact be needed to influence the awarding of the contract,” DiScenza wrote in the government’s position paper submitted last week.

McCalla sided with DiScenza in his ruling and the higher dollar amount was a factor in the prison sentence.

Salton and school board members Wanda Halbert, Sara Lewis, Willie Brooks and Hubon Sandridge all testified before the federal grand jury that indicted Thompson. Salton said publicly that he paid several thousand dollars to a campaign worker for Halbert, who has since been elected to the Memphis City Council. Halbert denied any knowledge of getting the cash but listed on an amended campaign finance report $2,000 that was lost.

DiScenza said in February that the four school board members mentioned by Thompson but never identified in court were not aware of the deal, and none has ever been charged with taking the money.

Thompson had no comment as he left the Federal Building this evening. The federal Bureau of Prisons will determine where and when he reports to prison.

...

36. Bass Pro Deal Trundles On -

The same team that negotiated the development agreement with Bass Pro Shops will do the talking for city and county governments on a lease of The Pyramid to the fishing and hunting retailer.

Earlier this week, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners approved the yearlong development agreement on a 9-3 vote. It’s the same agreement approved in October by the Memphis City Council.

37. Power at the Heart of Charter Commission, Council Debate -

The Memphis Charter Commission still has some important legal and political questions to resolve before it sends a list of proposed charter changes to city voters.

The proposed charter amendments will go to voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

38. Charter Referendum Set but Debate Continues -

The Shelby County charter referenda for the Aug. 7 ballot were set this week with a final vote by the county Board of Commissioners.

But the end of one public debate about how to govern locally is hardly the end of a debate about larger questions of accountability for elected officials.

39. PBS' Smiley, Others Converge On Memphis to Honor MLK -

The eyes of the city and the nation are turning to Memphis this week to mark what will be the 40th anniversary Friday of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The city is doing its part to promote the historic moment - and so are other people from around the country.

40. Unethical Conduct Discussion Next on Charter Commission Agenda -

The problem for the Memphis Charter Commission isn't necessarily coming up with a code of ethics. That's already been done by the City Council.

And what the council hasn't defined will be defined by public reaction and political will.

41. Thompson Pleads Guilty to Fraud -

Former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member Bruce Thompson pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal fraud charge in a corruption case involving a 2004 construction contract to build three Memphis city schools.

42. Too Much 'Rancor' Creeps in to Bass Pro Deliberations -

Day two of the Bass Pro Pyramid road show came with political overtones, a quick exodus from a meeting room and agreement that the retailer probably won't pay any rent to the city and county.

Pyramid project director Robert Lipscomb Wednesday presented terms of the tentative development agreement to Shelby County Board of Commissioners. Memphis City Council members were briefed Tuesday.

43. Despite Recent Drama, Charter Commission Faces Full Plate -

An emotional discussion on term limits received a lot of attention at this month's meeting of the Memphis Charter Commission.

But the group reviewing the city charter for possible changes to be submitted to voters doesn't lack for other items. And time is getting short for decisions and answers to questions that in many cases rely on legal opinions and interpretations.

44. Term Limit Debate Turns Emotional -

Memphis City Council and Memphis Charter Commission member Janis Fullilove left her colleagues on the Charter Commission puzzled Thursday afternoon following an emotional attack on the idea of term limits.

45. Wharton Agrees With Herenton on Consolidation -

The mayors of Memphis and Shelby County are now both on record as favoring a single Metro form of government albeit under different terms.

Five days after Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton launched a renewed bid for consolidation keyed on changing state law to permit a single county-wide referendum on a consolidation proposal, Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. told members of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners Monday he also favors one government for Memphis and the unincorporated areas of Shelby County.

46. Commission Remains Tight-Lipped About Pyramid -

Shelby County commissioners weren't in the mood this week to say much about the new proposal to turn The Pyramid into a theme park. The $250 million Pyramid Adventure theme park idea that includes surrounding riverfront development got good reviews last week before commissioners.

47. Big Ideas -

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners will vote Monday on a resolution that suggests county leaders not extend a letter of intent for Bass Pro Shops to develop attractions in The Pyramid.

The resolution by Commissioner Steve Mulroy cleared a committee this week on a 6-2 vote as developer Greg Ericson outlined an expanded $250 million plan to build a "first class Disney-esque indoor theme park" in The Pyramid.

48. Thompson's One-Time Promises Implode With Indictments -

He ran for the Shelby County Board of Commissioners five years ago on the slogan "It's time for government to mean business." And Bruce Thompson's campaign literature pledged, "I believe public officials should use their position to save money for the taxpayers, not make money for themselves."

49. Thompson Indicted for Extortion and Mail Fraud -

A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson on one count of extortion and three counts of mail fraud.

The public corruption charges that name no other defendants came with just as many questions as answers – questions about possible involvement by others. U.S. Attorney David Kustoff said the grand jury probe is continuing but he wouldn’t be more specific.

50. Thompson Indicted for Extortion and Mail Fraud -

A federal grand jury today indicted former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson on one count of extortion and three counts of mail fraud.

The public corruption charges that name no other defendants came with just as many questions as answers – questions about possible involvement by others. U.S. Attorney David Kustoff said the grand jury probe is continuing but he wouldn’t be more specific.

51. Wharton Chimes In On School System's Woes With Takeover Idea -

A federal grand jury is investigating several of Memphis City Schools' construction contracts.

Three former board members and one outgoing member just elected to the City Council were called to testify in recent days.

52. Events -

The Institute of Management Accountants - Memphis Chapter will hold its monthly Technical Session today at 11:45 a.m. in the Medallion Restaurant in the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. The event is $20. For reservations or more information, visit www.imamemphis.org.

53. Toothsome Ethics Ordinances to Sharpen by Year-End -

Shelby County government hasn't printed the forms that are a basic part of its new ethics ordinance. Memphis City Council members are still debating what could be the final piece of the city's ethics array.

54. Flights of Fancy -

Thirty years ago, the municipal governments of Memphis and Shelby County launched the Center City Commission to kick start the revitalization of Downtown Memphis.

Within the following two years, The Pier restaurant opened, a package of incentives was crafted to aid the renovation of The Peabody Hotel and the second phase of The Orpheum Theatre renovation was finished. And today, far removed from the ghost town it used to be, Downtown is the site of more than $3 billion in development projects the CCC is coordinating.

55. Villas Development Expected to Inject Vitality Into South Memphis -

Memphis' 6th District is undeniably Ford territory.

Along four-lane New Horn Lake Road between West Mitchell and Brooks roads, nearly every other house boasts a Harold Ford Jr. for U.S. Senate sign in the front yard, as cars with Ford stickers placed prominently on their rear windows zoom past.

56. Memphis Bar Association Members Act Out at Buckman -

Oct. 10

The Memphis Bar Association presents "Entertaining Motions" from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Buckman Performing Arts Center, 60 Perkins Road Extended. The production is a parody of legal life featuring music and skits by and for the Memphis legal community. Call 527-3573 for more information.

57. Memphis Bar Association Members Act Out at Buckman -

Oct. 10

The Memphis Bar Association presents "Entertaining Motions" from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Buckman Performing Arts Center, 60 Perkins Road Extended. The production is a parody of legal life featuring music and skits by and for the Memphis legal community. Call 527-3573 for more information.

58. Events -

The Center for Southern Folklore hosts country musician Roy Harper today from noon to 2 p.m. at 123 S. Main St. For more than 50 years, Harper has kept alive the traditions of old-time classic country and folk music with his tales of working on the railroad, hobos, ne'er-do-wells and the joys of small town life. The special lunchtime concert also will feature Ella Kizzie's homemade chicken dinner and peach cobbler. Admission to the concert is free with purchase of the chicken dinner ($10) or $5 for the concert only. For more information, call Tim Curry at 525-3655.

59. Children's Museum Hosts Golf Tournament Today -

SEPT. 18

The Children's Museum of Memphis (CMOM) hosts the fourth annual CMOM Golf Tournament to benefit the "Yes, EVERY Child!" program at 11:30 a.m. at Memphis Country Club, 3034 Southern Ave. The Yes, EVERY Child! program provides free CMOM admission for less fortunate families. Lunch will be provided starting at 11:30 a.m., and the tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Golfers will play in teams of four for $300 a person. Call 458-2678 for information or to register.

60. Crichton Hosts Golf Classic To Benefit Athletics Department -

Aug. 21

The first Crichton College Golf Classic benefiting the Crichton Comets athletics department is at 1 p.m. at the Tournament Players Club at Southwind, 3225 Club at Southwind. Registration, along with a light lunch and putting clinic, begins at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $150 and sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit www.crichton.edu or call 320-9700.

61. After Election, City's New Charter Commissioners Ponder the Task at Hand -

In her free time, Sylvia Cox volunteers at The Orpheum Theatre and also works with a local group that hosts a science fiction convention, MidSouthCon, in Memphis each year.

She says she enjoys sashaying across a ballroom dance floor, a hobby she's pursued for about 10 years. But with her election Aug. 3 to the Memphis Charter Commission - admittedly a victory that surprised even her - the latest pursuit Cox has added to her day comes with considerable influence.

62. Fairgrounds Redevelopment Process Rounds Another Corner -

On one hand, the slow-moving process to redevelop the Mid-South Fairgrounds is about finding a new use for unattractive city property.

On the other hand, Miller Pipkin, 21, can't help but see part of the effort as defacing a family heirloom. That heirloom is Libertyland, the 30-year-old amusement park that Mid-South Fair officials voted to scuttle late last year.

63. On the Way Down -

A number of notable building permits have been filed in the Memphis area during 2006's first quarter.

The State of Tennessee filed a $23 million permit for property at 951 Court Ave. in March and is planning to build the new Memphis Mental Health Institute on the site, said John Hundley of TRO, the project's architect.