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Editorial Results (free)

1. The Week Ahead: Feb. 12, 2016 -

How was your weekend, Memphis? Here’s our weekly rundown of local happenings you need to know about, from circus clowns to Republican senators…

Both U.S. Senators representing Tennessee will be in Memphis Saturday for the Shelby County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Gala, historically the local party’s largest annual fundraising event.
Sen. Bob Corker is the keynote speaker with Sen. Lamar Alexander as a special guest.
The Lincoln Day gatherings are county-by-county events across the state that can extend far beyond the shadow of Presidents Day: A few of the Lincoln Day dinners have been known to find a place on the calendar in April.
This is the 41st Lincoln Day event in Shelby County, which puts the local event’s origins squarely in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a low-point for Republican fortunes nationally after the state’s modern Republican party was formed and prospered in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The event always comes with a large helping of local candidates testing the political waters among the dinner tables between podium speeches.
This year, the Shelby County event is sure to feature partisans from the various Republican presidential campaigns because of its place on the February calendar during the early voting period before the March 1 election day.

2. Last Word: Clinton in Whitehaven, Changes to Parkside and The Replacements Book -

The Presidential primary caravan has arrived.
Former President Bill Clinton was in Whitehaven Thursday evening to campaign for his wife, former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton.
And it was a reminder of his political potency as well as his popularity in a city that went for Barack Obama over his wife in the 2008 Tennessee Presidential primary but which was solidly behind him in both of his successful bids for the White House in the 1990s.
Clinton spoke in a packed Whitehaven High gymnasium to more than 700 people for almost an hour and then worked the crowd that gathered near the podium for another 25 minutes before sprinting out a door to a waiting car.
We’ll be busy this weekend with the opening of the local Bernie Sanders campaign headquarters and we’re still waiting on that promised Donald Trump Memphis appearance.
And we expect to encounter lots of Republican presidential partisans at the local GOP's annual Lincoln Day Gala on the 20th.

3. Strickland Wants Contract, Pay Boost for Memphis' Next Police Director -

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wants to offer the next Memphis Police Department director a multi-year contract for more than the $150,000 the city is currently paying interim police director Michael Rallings.

4. McMullen Takes on Public Sector Challenges as City’s Legal Chief -

Bruce McMullen remembers his hometown of Sparta, Georgia, as small, about 3,000 people.

“Life was pretty simple,” he said. “A lot of family, a lot of friends.”

5. Last Word: Leaving Warren and Tulane, New Police Brass and Losing Housing -

Post Super Bowl edition of Last Word: Broncos 24 – Panthers 10 – Lady Gaga’s National Anthem kudos – Coldplay/Bruno Mars/Beyonce ambitious halftime extravaganza got lost in spots by bad sound.

6. New Brass -

Just days before Toney Armstrong was off the city payroll, his successor as interim director of the Memphis Police Department, Michael Rallings, was getting used to the attention and ring kissing that comes with being the city’s top cop.

7. Last Word: EW&F, Midtown Rent Rise and A Closer Look At The Pyramid Deal -

One seemingly ordinary winter’s night in Downtown Memphis, I was going from event to event focused on work – specifically trying to stay on a schedule in which several things I wanted to cover were happening at the same time.
That is usually when you miss the experience that is Memphis on an everyday but definitely not ordinary basis.
So I get in a parking garage elevator and on the next floor David Porter – of Stax Records fame – gets on and he introduces me to his friend, Maurice White – the founder of Earth Wind and Fire. They too are trying to be in several places at the same time.
As they went their way and I went mine, I remember thinking this is quite a special place.
The encounter slowed my stride a bit and took some of the edge off the schedule – noticing for the first time how many people were out on a winter’s night in our city having nothing but a good time made better by all of us going our different ways.
White, who was from Memphis, died Thursday with his band’s music stronger and more relevant than ever.
If you grew up listening to EWF when the songs were new, you know that the bright and funky sound and the positive, affirming, and diverse identity of this music was quite intentional at a time when there was plenty going on that could have pushed it the other way.
If your parents or grandparents grew up listening to EWF, this music is a part of your family’s tradition that calls to mind special occasions and even your own mild surprise the first time you found yourself dancing to it with your children.
And if your folks’ vinyl record collection from back in the day included Earth Wind and Fire, that was one of the ones you listened to when they weren’t around and one of the ones you took with you when you got a place of your own.

8. Rallings Names Police Team -

Interim Memphis Police director Michael Rallings has named deputy chief Mike Ryall as his deputy director and has filled other vacancies in the ranks of deputy chiefs.

Rowena Adams has been named deputy chief over administrative services, while Frank Garrett and Terry Landrum are over uniform patrol. Sharonda Hampton is deputy chief investigative services, Clete Knight is deputy chief special operations, and Jim Harvey is deputy chief information technologies.

9. Cates Wants Detail on Downtown Agreements -

From Mud Island River Park across the Memphis harbor to The Pyramid and further east to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – there are a lot of connections as the areas head toward a new incarnation.

10. Last Word: History As Geology, Beyond the Greensward and City Hall's HR Director -

History can be like geology once you get it in something that isn’t in the form of a book.
There are layers on top of layers that you may not ever see or miss until a site is wiped clean for the next present that used to be the future and will eventually become the past.
That’s the case with the city’s historic Medical Center where much has come and gone several times over as our city’s considerable investment in medicine and health approaches the end of its second century.
Health Sciences Park used to be the site of a hospital. You would think something as massive as the tower of Baptist Memorial Hospital’s central campus on Union Avenue would be missed. Yet even those of us who grew up with its presence drive past it every day without a thought of what was once there.
The same with the site of Russwood Park on the north side of Madison Avenue and the old bus barns where Beale used to run further east than it does now.
In recent years, new facilities have arisen as the medical center makes itself over in a kind of economic regeneration without a comprehensive plan.
There is now an effort to come up with a comprehensive plan for the area that is more than different ventures buying or leasing land and making plans for their needs.
Eight of the institutions in the area have hired a consulting firm to develop a master plan that includes not just facilities but residential and retail areas.
It’s a significant step for an area that remains intriguing for those of us trying to remember what was where and how long some of the survivors have been holding out in much different streetscapes than were there when they arrived.
The Masonic lodge at the dead end of Dunlap into Union Avenue is a survivor. It’s where the funerals were held for some of those killed in the 1925 river disaster in which Tom Lee rescued so many others.
The lodge at one time had an earth-shaking pipe organ that I had the rare privilege of hearing at a concert following its restoration in the 1980s – the ancient 1980s.
And I still wonder about the tiny medical textbook storefront and how it endures at a time when students rent books and others use digital versions.
There are still remnants of the porous border between the medical center and the Union Avenue auto row that used to exist and arose around the old Ford plant.

11. Alexandria Smith Learning the ‘Undercurrents’ of Politics on the Job -

It would have made a good story, how another stone-hearted stockbroker that thrives on the “action” had been honing all the necessary skills since age 10.

How the future Wall Street wolf used to listen in on her grandfather’s speakerphone calls with his stockbroker and then ask questions, how the grandfather bought her shares in McDonald’s and Disney and Yahoo.

12. Last Word: Rallings Meets the Council, Million Dollar Auditions & A Pinch Plan Emerges -

His second day on the job, the new Memphis Police Director, Michael Rallings, met the Memphis City Council and discovered just what a huge issue police body cameras are – if he didn’t know that already.
His answers to some pointed questions about when police can turn off those cameras and why made this an uneven first encounter.
Council members told him they got an earful from constituents over the weekend in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Johnathan Bratcher in South Memphis. And some of the reaction they got was to reports that a police dispatcher ordered police trying out the body cameras to turn them off as they arrived at the scene of the shooting.
There are three cameras being tested. And one of the officers with them showed up after the shooting, according to police.
Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland still didn’t have a timetable for the roll-out of the cameras but did offer some specifics including hiring by the MPD of 10 new personnel to deal with the handling of what the camera records.
And Strickland’s intention is to pay for it out of the existing MPD budget.

13. Strickland: Police Body Camera Rollout Requires More Personnel -

The rollout of police body cameras will mean hiring more people at the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office, according to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

14. Council Probes Police Body Camera Delay -

Memphis City Council members talk Tuesday, Feb. 2, about when police body cameras might be ready for action.

And there will probably be questions at the 11 a.m. executive session about whether a limited test use of the cameras recorded any of last week’s fatal police shooting of Johnathan Bratcher in South Memphis.

15. Sutton Reid Finalist for Reed Awards -

The Memphis ad agency that worked on the 2015 mayoral campaign of Jim Strickland is a finalist for three Reed Awards, given nationally by the political trade publication Campaigns & Elections.

16. MATA ‘Thinking Outside the Bus’ to Overcome Funding Shortfall -

To accommodate for a chronic budget shortfall, the Memphis Area Transit Authority said that it has to start “thinking outside the bus.”

In January, Memphis was announced as one of the pilot partners of a new app that coordinates public transit with private Uber cars.

17. Sutton Reid Finalist For Reed Awards -

The Memphis ad agency that worked on the 2015 mayoral campaign of Jim Strickland is a finalist for three Reed Awards, given nationally by the political trade publication Campaigns & Elections.

18. Two Binghampton Gangs Targeted In Latest Zones -

Memphis’ latest no-gang zones take in a swath of real estate one may not normally associate with crime and violence: a country club, the Shelby Farms Greenline and an elementary school, to name a few.

19. Memphis CFO Brian Collins 'Constantly at 50,000 Feet' -

If you think about the city’s chief financial officer at all, you might imagine a robotic figure forever tethered to numbers and a desk, taking a microscopic view of life in search of where to squeeze out a few more dollars here, a few more dollars there.

20. Morgan: Permanent Overton Park Fix Will Take Time -

The Memphis City Council member whose district includes Overton Park says there is no immediate permanent fix for the greensward controversy beyond the zoo continuing to park cars there.

“Short term, there’s really nothing that can quickly move that number of cars,” council member Worth Morgan said on the WKNO-TV program “Behind the Headlines.”

21. Memphis Zoo CEO: Mediation, Court Action Can Coexist in Greensward Dispute -

The Memphis Zoo’s move to Chancery Court next week in the Overton Park greensward controversy does not damage the mediation process between the zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy.

That’s what zoo president and CEO Chuck Brady said as attorneys on both sides of the controversy prepare to make their cases in court.

22. Overton Park Conservancy Agrees to Mediation -

The board of the Overton Park Conservancy has agreed to participate in a mediation process with the Memphis Zoo on the park greensward controversy.

The OPC board voted Wednesday, Jan. 20, to be part of the process. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland recommended the mediation during a meeting Tuesday with both sides of the controversy around zoo overflow parking.

23. Last Word: Winter Pre-Game Show, The Zoo Goes To Court And Hotel Fever -

You wouldn’t call this the eye of the storm, would you? We’ll go with calling this the pre-game show for the winter storm that is supposed to show up in Memphis at around 7 a.m. Friday morning. Think Super Bowl pre-game.
There is so much that’s been said in advance of this that whatever happens, it might be hard to live up to the preparation.
Much of the rest of this is like an arms race of sorts.
Consider the equipment list from Memphis International Airport.
10 snow brooms, 12 plow trucks, four de-icing trucks each with 40,000 gallons of deicer, four 2-ton salt spreaders and four tractors to keep the runways clear.
The city of Memphis Public Works division has eight snow plows ready to roll on major thoroughfares if the snow gets within the three-inch mark. A set of 16 salt trucks were to load up at 11 p.m. Thursday evening to begin applying salt and sand when needed, with continual inspections of road conditions. And that includes some pre-treated priority areas.
And then there was this truly unusual announcement from Shelby County Schools: the optional school parent camp-out was suspended Thursday evening because of the weather.
This is the camp out the school system tries its best to discourage each and every year at this time. That includes bar-coded applications and repeatedly emphasizing that 99.9 percent of those with the bar-coded applications get their first choice of optional schools, making the camp-out unnecessary. The applications are handed out over several days and are then time-stamped when they are turned in for consideration.
Nevertheless, the tents go up each year and voices are raised in the debate about whether this is parents who care more or parents who are carried away.
This year, the school system, while emphasizing that it “does not authorize or direct” the camp-out, says the line will resume Sunday at 7 a.m.
The school system also adds: “The current process being managed by parents will be recognized due to potential health and safety risks related to forecasted inclement weather.”
But is there a line to get back in line? And when does that start?

24. Zoo Goes To Court Over Greensward -

The Memphis Zoo has gone to Chancery Court seeking undisputed legal control of the northern section of the Overton Park greensward.

Attorneys for the zoo filed the suit Thursday, Jan. 21, seeking a declaratory judgment in the dispute with the Overton Park Conservancy.

25. Strickland Names Interim Memphis Police Director -

Mayor Jim Strickland has chosen an interim Memphis Police director from inside the ranks, naming his pick two weeks to the day after current director Toney Armstrong announced he’s retiring from the role.

26. Overton Park Conservancy Agrees to Mediation -

The board of the Overton Park Conservancy has agreed to participate in a mediation process with the Memphis Zoo on the park greensward controversy.

The OPC board voted Wednesday, Jan. 20, to be part of the process. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland recommended the mediation during a meeting Tuesday with both sides of the controversy around zoo overflow parking.

27. Strickland Walks Back Wharton’s Police Camera Promise -

When Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland decided a week ago to scrap this month’s start date for the use of police body cameras, there were lots of questions, most of which were about the motives of his predecessor as mayor, A C Wharton, who had pledged body cameras would be recording police encounters across the city starting Sept. 1.

28. Strickland Names Interim Memphis Police Director -

Mayor Jim Strickland has chosen an interim Memphis Police director from inside the ranks, naming his pick two weeks to the day after current director Toney Armstrong announced he’s retiring from the role.

29. Last Word: The View Across The Harbor, Crosstown Undercurrents and Bonnaroo -

The fishing puns are overpowering as Bass Pro Shops expresses its interest in redeveloping Mud Island River Park, on the other side of the city harbor from the Pyramid Bass Pro Shops opened at just this past May.
Bass Pro Shops is one of five companies to express interest in Mud Island as part of the process by the Riverfront Development Corporation to go a different way with the park.
The RDC released the names of the companies Thursday.
Earlier this month, we outlined the RVC Outdoor Destinations proposal.
We don’t know nearly as much about what Bass Pro Shops has in mind or the other three firms.
All five now head for what amounts to a second round in which they submit specific plans to a search committee of the RDC including how they will pay for their plans.

30. Ursula Madden: From Broadcast News to Memphis Communications Chief -

She didn’t realize it at the time, but Ursula Madden was training for her career as a local television anchor.

This was when she was a girl, growing up in Portland, Oregon. Little Ursula might have been sent outdoors to play all the time, but her mother had other ideas.

31. Last Word: Time and The Greensward, Crosstown High and Race and Sports -

Remember how the schools merger story of about five years ago would change by the hour at times? That story has met its equal in what is becoming the first major challenge of the new Strickland administration at City Hall – the Overton Park Greensward.
So much happened before noon Tuesday on the first day of the short work week that it required waiting for the dust to settle on several fronts.
Here is the latest on a very fluid and volatile situation that could very well change as you are reading this.
Luckily we report at a time when you can change stories on line to keep up with such changes.
Zoos and parks and protests featuring brass bands suggest to a casual observer that this is not very serious as controversies go.
And maybe that was the case about a year and a half ago when a group of high school students decided to block the gravel driveway from the zoo parking lot onto the greensward.
But consider this:
The Memphis Zoo is working toward a March 1 opening of its new exhibit, Zambezi River Hippo Camp, a $22-million attraction that from what we saw just a few months ago will likely draw big crowds to the zoo in the spring.
The zoo was preparing for that starting with the removal of 27 trees from the north end of the greensward.
The best Mayor Jim Strickland could get from both sides – the zoo and Overton Park Conservancy – at his meeting with them Tuesday was a commitment to take his proposal for mediation to their respective boards.
The zoo board has authorized its leaders to file a lawsuit in Chancery Court over the greensward and it’s very likely the zoo would go to court before the March 1 opening because of the crowds on their way.
If the work to come by the zoo in advance of the March 1 opening involves heavy machinery, the reaction is likely to draw a much bigger protest than the ones Memphis Police have so far watched from a distance without making arrests.
As in all pressing political dramas, this controversy has the accelerant of timing.

32. Strickland Proposes Mediation in Greensward Controversy -

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is asking leaders of the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy to enter voluntary mediation over parking in the Overton Park Greensward.

33. Overton Park Conservancy Hires Trio of Firms For Park Traffic Study -

The Overton Park Conservancy has hired a trio of firms led by the design firm Looney Ricks Kiss to recommend solutions to the park’s traffic flow and parking problems.

Working with LRK on the study, agreed to by the conservancy and all of the park’s institutions including the Memphis Zoo, are greenway and trail consultants Alta Planning + Design and engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates.

34. Last Word: Tri-State's Deal With First Tennessee, Matt Barnes' Fine and The Grind -

It sounds strange to refer to this as a holiday weekend – the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Holidays suggest something different than the rededication to purpose so many of us stress as our definition of this day honoring the memory of a leader whose life made it difficult to imagine what our society would be like without his presence.
That we feel compelled to express the meaning of the day through actions and a recommitment to principles buffeted by reality reflects a hope that we wish to retain as first-hand memories of King’s life fade and his legacy endures.

35. Strickland Postpones Police Body Camera Rollout -

The much-delayed implementation of body cameras for the Memphis Police Department's 2,000 officers is being pushed back again.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has indefinitely postponed the roll out of police body cameras citing a rush starting last year to get the cameras up and running without considering the back end of the process including record-keeping.

36. Luttrell, Strickland Attend Obama’s State of the Union -

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland both attended the Tuesday, Jan. 12, State of the Union address, the final State of the Union address by President Barack Obama

37. Council Members Settle In To New Assignments -

Memphis City Council members file the last of the paperwork Tuesday, Jan. 19, from the 2015 elections to put City Hall’s power transition on record.

Meanwhile, the six new members are learning on the job as they chair several committees following assignments by council chairman Kemp Conrad: Martavius Jones is chairman of the council audit committee; Patrice Robinson chairs the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division committee; Jamita Swearengen is chairwoman of the parks and neighborhoods committee; council member Philip Spinosa leads the personnel committee, usually the first committee session of the council day; Frank Colvett chairs the planning and zoning committee, which is the last session of the day before executive session; and Worth Morgan is chairman of the public safety committee.

38. Last Word: Secrets In A Small Town, Bullard Bounce and Beale & Mud Island -

Munford! A winning Powerball ticket for the largest jackpot ever was sold in Munford and that warrants a rare exclamation mark.
Possibly two when you consider that small towns are supposed to be places where it is nearly impossible to keep a secret – at least from the other folks in the town.
The fact that it was sold at Naifeh’s, a long-standing Tipton County business institution adds to the story.
The person who bought the ticket in Munford holds one of three winning tickets which comes out to about $582 million for that ticket.
That is roughly the size of the city of Memphis operating budget.
There was a similar mystery underway Thursday in Dyersburg where someone bought a Powerball ticket worth a paltry $2 million. Probably worth an exclamation mark if I wasn’t over the limit and already feeling the unspoken disdain of my reporting brethren who are judging me harshly as you read this.

39. Strickland Urges Calm in Overton Park Controversy as Protest Planned -

A group opposed to Memphis Zoo overflow parking on the Overton Park Greensward plans to plant a tree Saturday, Jan. 16, on the greensward.

The intended planting by the group Get Off Our Lawn are to protest the zoo’s recent removal of 27 trees planted by the Overton Park Conservancy at the northern end of the green space.

40. Last Word: Overton Park's Restless Winter, Across The Harahan and Higher Ed -

It may be chilly outside, but it might as well be July on the Overton Park greensward with all of the political heat that is building.
The thermometer spiked when more than two dozen trees donated to the Overton Park Conservancy in 2012 were removed this week by the Memphis Zoo which is preparing for large crowds in March.
That’s when its new Zambezi Hippo River Camp exhibit opens to much anticipation and much fanfare.
That and the New Year’s Eve legal opinion favoring the zoo’s position on its use of the greensward for overflow parking set the stage for a dispute the administration of Mayor Jim Strickland has had to mediate at less than two weeks in office.

41. Memphis Zoo Removes Trees From Overton Park Greensward -

When the Overton Park Conservancy’s staff noticed 27 trees had been removed from the north end of the park’s greensward Monday, they immediately called Memphis Police.

The conservancy then began calling the other institutions in the park and found the Memphis Zoo had removed the trees donated to and planted by the conservancy four years ago.

42. Memphis Zoo Removes Trees From Overton Park Greensward -

When the Overton Park Conservancy’s staff noticed 27 trees had been removed from the north end of the park’s greensward Monday, they immediately called Memphis Police.

The conservancy then began calling the other institutions in the park and found the Memphis Zoo had removed the trees donated to and planted by the conservancy four years ago.

43. Lakeland Commission to Vote On Term Extension Ordinance -

Lakeland commissioners take a final vote Thursday, Jan. 14, on an ordinance that would give them, Lakeland school board members and Lakeland mayor Wyatt Bunker an extra 14 months in office.

The ordinance, proposed by Bunker, would call off staggered city elections in September 2017 and September 2019. It would instead set those elections for November 2018 and November 2020.

44. New Memphis COO Doug McGowen Knows Importance of Carrying Out Orders -

From age 13 until he finished college, Doug McGowen was filling in his summers and college breaks with work. Real work. Sweat-on-the-brow work.

He grew up in Meadville, a small town in northwest Pennsylvania. And there he toiled for a small family-owned construction company, doing whatever was asked.

45. Reaves: Memphis Should Pay Share of Schools Liability -

The Shelby County commissioner who sought a legal opinion over who pays $1.1 billion of Shelby County Schools’ benefits liability says he has more questions.

Commissioner David Reaves requested the opinion from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery in December through state Sen. Brian Kelsey.

46. Last Word: Legislature's Return, Uber Pilot, Minivan Comeback and Bowie's Exit -

The gavel falls in Nashville.
The Tennessee legislature is back in session Tuesday. This is an election year session for the legislature. So it will be short – likely an early April adjournment. But that doesn’t mean the session is without expectations from outside Nashville.

47. Luttrell, Strickland To Attend Obama’s State of the Union -

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will both be attending the Tuesday, Jan. 12, State of the Union address, the final State of the Union address by President Barack Obama

48. Tennessee Legislature Opens 2016 Session on Capitol Hill -

The Tennessee General Assembly's 2016 session will be a short one, likely done by early April. The gavels fall in the House and Senate chambers in Nashville at noon Tuesday, Jan. 12, opening the election year session.

49. Last Word: The Crest, OPEB Fever, Armstrong Leaves and An Elvis Warning -

The crest is here and it is not quite 40 feet on the Mississippi River gauge. The projections Thursday evening going into Friday’s crest of the river at Memphis changed a bit from the 40.3 foot level. The crest is 39.8 feet.
No reports of major damage anywhere in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Office of Prepardness.
But the river’s high water is still a sight to behold.

50. Memphis City Schools Liability Questions Remain -

It’s been overshadowed by City Hall’s liability crisis of the last two years.

But who is ultimately responsible for more than $1 billion in liability for OPEB – other post employment benefits – of employees of the old Memphis City Schools system has been a question Shelby County government leaders have been pondering for some time.

51. Luttrell: State Likely to Mandate $1B Liability -

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said the state of Tennessee will most likely move to require Shelby County Schools to fully fund its $1.5 billion liability for health insurance and similar employee benefits.

52. Armstrong Leaves MPD After Five Years of Change -

In five years as Memphis Police Department director, Toney Armstrong has seen more changes in law enforcement culture and how officers are perceived than most of his predecessors in the position ever saw.

53. Armstrong Leaving Memphis Police Dept. for St. Jude -

Memphis Police Department director Toney Armstrong has taken a job at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Armstrong, who has worked in various roles at MPD for nearly three decades, will step down from his post Jan. 31 to become St. Jude's director of security, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Thursday, Jan. 7.

54. Tenn. AG Opinion Raises Questions About $1B Schools Liability Shift -

A legal opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General’s office says the Shelby County Commission has to specifically vote to assume the indebtedness from employees benefits of the old Memphis City Schools system.

55. After First Meeting, Personality of New Council Emerges -

The judgments began early for the new Memphis City Council, which met for the first time Tuesday, Jan. 5, at City Hall.

State Sen. Lee Harris, on hand to be honored as a former city council member, called the group the “Kumbaya Council,” as it approved 13 appointees by Mayor Jim Strickland, 11 of them with unanimous votes.

56. Police Body Cameras to Be Phased In -

Body cameras for Memphis police officers will roll out in nine phases, one precinct at a time.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich and Memphis police director Toney Armstrong announced the decision Tuesday, Jan. 5. They say the phase-in will give them time to evaluate and make improvements in the complex system and the estimated 3,500 hours of footage the cameras could generate in just one day.

57. Last Word: Council Round-Up, One Beale's Third Tower and the Battle Over the ASD -

On a clear day, the song goes, you can see forever.
In Memphis though, it seems that no two politicians will see exactly the same thing or have precisely the same opinion.
On a somewhat sunny but not necessarily clear Tuesday in our fair city there was a lot to see.

58. Council OKs Strickland's Directors, He Defends Pay Raises -

Memphis City Council members approved Mayor Jim Strickland’s slate of 12 division chiefs and directors Tuesday, Jan. 5, at the first council meeting of 2016. And Strickland defended the pay raises for some of those positions compared to the salaries those appointed positions paid in the Wharton administration.

59. PRSA Honors Armstrong As Top Communicator -

The Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has named Memphis Police Department director Toney Armstrong as its 2015 Communicator of the Year.

Armstrong will receive the annual award, given since 1976, at a Jan. 14 luncheon at the University Club. Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich and U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton will join him.

60. Strickland Wades Into River Concerns -

The local agencies that respond to natural disasters learned a lot four years ago when the Mississippi River was rising in Downtown Memphis.

And many of those lessons are being used as the river approaches a crest on Friday, Jan. 8, estimated to be 40.5 feet on the river gauge.

61. Council’s First Meeting of 2016 Includes 2015 Leftovers -

Memphis City Council members begin their first council day of the year Tuesday, Jan. 5, with a slate of a dozen appointments by Mayor Jim Strickland.

62. Greensward Controversy Revived With New Year’s Eve Legal Opinion -

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says a New Year’s Eve legal opinion on the use of the Overton Park greensward does not speak for his administration.

63. Strickland Pushes Change Theme Beyond Campaign Borders -

Change as a political force is usually defined by the length of a campaign season.

Once the votes are counted, it’s taken as a verdict on how much or how little voters wanted change in a short span of time.

64. Strickland Takes Office, Doubles Down on Change Theme -

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland took office New Year’s Day with a pledge to immediately begin to “target and remove” street gang leaders and equip police with the ability to immediately issue domestic violence orders of protection.

65. Last Word: Out With the Old, In With The River -

We end 2015 with an eye on the Mississippi River as the city marks the New Year with three major New Year’s Eve outdoor celebrations – one on Beale Street, another in the newly-awakened Overton Square and yet another in the Broad Avenue Arts District.
Two come with lots of memories of past New Year’s eves – with soon-to-be memories.
Overton Square’s comeback as a theater district has been a big story of the last two years.
But Beale Street at the end of 2015 is an institution that has also seen a lot of change in the last year with the move to a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority at year’s end.
Broad is a different story with a different context. The context is a diversified Memphis whose crowd is likely to be at least slightly more local than the mix in Overton Square and on Beale Street.
It's example could very well show us the path to a New Year's eve with public celebrations from Whitehaven to Frayser.

66. Lowery’s Prayer Breakfast Marks 22nd Year -

Myron Lowery is leaving the Memphis City Council as of New Year’s Day.

But the outgoing council chairman will still be hosting a New Year’s Day Prayer Breakfast Friday, Jan. 1, at 9 a.m. on his first day out of office in 24 years.

67. Strickland Takes Office Promising Change -

Things move quickly once it is decided the incumbent mayor will not be returning to City Hall.

The political spotlight shifts quickly to the new mayor who has about two months and two weeks to make some important decisions about his inner circle, set some priorities and figure out what needs to wait for more deliberation.

68. McKinney Appointed as Shelby County Lobbyist -

Assistant County Attorney David E. McKinney is Shelby County government’s new director of legislative affairs.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell announced McKinney’s appointment Tuesday, Dec. 29, to take effect Jan. 1.

69. Lowery’s Prayer Breakfast Marks 25th Year -

Though Myron Lowery’s 24-year tenure on the Memphis City Council ended Dec. 31, he planned to start 2016 with a familiar tradition: his New Year’s Day Prayer Breakfast.

70. Strickland to Replace Animal Shelter Director -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland confirmed Tuesday, Dec. 29, that James Rogers will not be reappointed as director of the Memphis Animal Shelter.

71. Memorable Events of 2015 will Spill Into 2016 -

When you really get down to it, history is a collection of moments, moments that, when they fall one after the other over the long arc of time, eventually form the tapestry representing who we are.

72. Strickland to Replace Memphis Animal Shelter Director -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland confirmed Tuesday, Dec. 29, that James Rogers will not be reappointed as director of the Memphis Animal Shelter.

73. McKinney Appointed as New County Government Lobbyist -

Assistant County Attorney David E. McKinney is Shelby County government’s new director of legislative affairs.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell announced McKinney’s appointment Tuesday, Dec. 29, to take effect Jan. 1.

74. Deadly Shooting in Chattanooga Voted Top Story of 2015 -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The fatal shooting of four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga has been voted the top Tennessee news story of 2015.

Muhammad Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, opened fire on a recruiting center and a reserve facility on July 16. The FBI recently described the attack as an act "inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda."

75. City Leaders to Take Oath On New Year’s Day -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland takes the oath of office Jan. 1.

Strickland will be joined in the oath by 13 Memphis City Council members and new City Court clerk Kay Robilio.

76. City Hall Shuffle Moves Into Christmas Eve With 8 Positions Cut -

Memphis-Mayor elect Jim Strickland announced on Christmas Eve that he will eliminate eight positions in the current administration, one of them vacant. And a ninth positon will become a part-time position. Strickland will also follow through on his long-held desire to end the city’s involvement in and funding of the Memphis-Shelby County Music Commission.

77. Last Word: 7 Dead in North Mississippi, City Hall Shuffle Continues, Another UCI Exit -

With first light Christmas Eve in North Mississippi the death toll from the Wednesday storm and tornadoes rose to seven with more than 40 injured, that according to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant who has declared a state of emergency.

78. The Week Ahead: Dec. 28, 2015 -

How was your (hopefully long) weekend, Memphis? This week, more than most, is a time of change – of renewal, of turning the page, starting over. And of course, a time to ask the annual question: What are we going to do on New Year’s Eve?

79. Strickland Taps New Deputy COO -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland has appointed Patrice Thomas as the city’s deputy chief operating officer, effective Jan. 1.

80. Last Word: The Short Work Week, New Council and Alexander On Voters -

Last Word is a new daily online column that offers an overview of what’s happened at the end of shift, so to speak. Picture a dimly lit newsroom in the Downtown night and the last person in the place leaving a memo for the morning shift and you have a pretty good idea of what we are aiming for.

81. Young Named City HCD Director By Strickland -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland has named Paul Young as the director of the city’s division of Housing and Community Development.

82. Council's New Crop -

They ran in the considerable shadow of the most competitive Memphis mayoral race in a generation. The new Memphis City Council that takes office with Mayor-elect Jim Strickland in January isn’t necessarily a generational shift. It doesn’t signify a wholesale ousting by the electorate, either.

83. Last Word: The Force Reawakens, Methodist Expands and Setting Up 2016 -

Last Word is a new daily online column that offers an overview of what’s happened at the end of shift, so to speak. Picture a dimly lit newsroom in the Downtown night and the last person in the place leaving a memo for the morning shift and you have a pretty good idea of what we are aiming for.

84. Strickland Gets Ideas From Transition Groups -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland spent most of Wednesday, Dec. 16, with his transition team ending one phase of his move from the city council to the mayor’s office.

85. Departing City Council Members Remembered at Last Session -

Before the Memphis City Council’s final session of 2015 on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the 13 council members got around to something they should have done four years ago: take a group picture in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall.

86. New Beale Street Lease Gets Last-Minute Council Amendment -

One last amendment was filed before the city’s new Beale Street lease was a done deal Tuesday, Dec. 15. But as the Memphis City Council approved the agreement with the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority, the widow of the Beale Street Development Corp.’s former director pushed her claim that the city still hasn’t settled the old 52-year lease with the BSDC that the new authority replaces.

87. City Council Ends Year With Busy Agenda -

The last Memphis City Council meeting of 2015 came with few speeches from departing council members and a crowded agenda as well as a few leftovers the new council will have to deal with. It was a mix of a new Beale Street lease, seat backs for some Liberty Bowl bleachers, parking meters and the next phase of Graceland's expansion.

88. Council Approves $4M Loan for Belz’s Midtown Market -

The mixed-use project at Union Avenue and McLean Boulevard got a $4 million federal boost with a proposal from developers Belz Enterprises and Harbor Retail Partners clearing the Memphis City Council Tuesday, Dec. 15.

89. Current City Council Marks End of Term -

Memphis City Council members mark the end of an eight-year era Tuesday, Dec. 15, when the body holds its last meeting of 2015.

It is also the last session of the current council’s four-year term of office. With the end of the term, six of the 13 members will be leaving office.

90. Strickland Taps Memphis' First Female Fire Director -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland made another significant staff announcement to start the week.

91. The Week Ahead: Dec. 14, 2015 -

How was your weekend, Memphis? Here’s our weekly rundown of local happenings you need to know about, from the annual AutoZone shareholder convergence Downtown to the new Star Wars movie...

92. A List of Mayor-Elect Jim Strickland’s Appointments So Far -

Memphis Mayor elect Jim Strickland still has some appointments to make, but he is methodically filling key positions in his administration ahead of taking office Jan. 1.

93. Strickland Names Council Member to Inner Circle -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland is taking an outgoing city council member and the council’s longtime administrator with him when he becomes mayor next month.

94. Snapshot: Ballet Memphis ‘In the Mix’ at Chamber Luncheon -

Ballet Memphis’ Rafael Ferreras and Crystal Brothers performed Wednesday, Dec. 9, for more than 1,000 business and community leaders at the Greater Memphis Chamber’s annual chairman’s luncheon – an event at which Carolyn Hardy officially took the reins as chamber chairman.

95. Wharton Touts Memphis’ Emergence in Exit Interview -

He didn’t win re-election, but A C Wharton says he did change the city’s politics in his six years as mayor.

“It would be the epitome of naivete to say that there are not some folks who still try to thrive politically on dividing us. I guess that will always be,” Mayor Wharton said in a Tuesday, Dec. 8, exit interview with The Daily News. “But by and large, I am convinced that most people are set on saying, ‘Let’s get along.’ It’s tough enough out there with us working together. Imagine what it will look like if we don’t. … I believe we are on our way.”

96. Strickland Names 6 Chiefs to Report Directly To Mayor -

Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland rounded out his team of top advisers and division directors with six appointees who will report directly to him – a structural change to how previous mayoral administrations have worked.

97. Strickland Taps Ursula Madden as Communications Chief -

Ursula Madden is leaving the anchor's desk at WMC Action News 5 and heading to City Hall.

Madden, an anchor for the station's 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts, is joining the administration of Memphis mayor-Elect Jim Strickland as chief communications officer.

98. The Week Ahead: Dec. 7, 2015 -

How was your weekend, Memphis? Here’s our weekly rundown of local happenings you need to know about, from gift shopping at the Memphis Indie Holiday Market to the latest Beale Street developments ...

99. District 5 Council Race Produces Highest Campaign Spending Of Runoffs -

All that’s left of the 2015 Memphis elections are the year-end campaign finance reports and the campaign loans that some candidates took out to make it to election day.

Meanwhile, most of the candidates in the five Nov. 19 Memphis City Council runoff election contests have filed their reports on how much they spent up to the last week before the runoff election day.

100. Belz Finds Compromise on Deal-Breaking Midtown Gate -

Memphis City Council members worked out a compromise Tuesday, Dec. 1, over a controversial plan by Belz Investco to close Idlewild Street south of Union and install a metal gate across the roadway.