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Editorial Results (free)

1. Last Word: Alexander and Corker Differ, Instant Runoff React and Kroger On Hold -

Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators split their votes Tuesday in Washington on the vote that followed the vote to open debate on a repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both voted yes on the debate motion. But then Corker was one of the nine Republican Senate votes that killed the Obamacare replacement plan known as BCRA, while Alexander voted for it.

2. The Week Ahead: July 17-23 -

Hello, Memphis! Young, local artists are in the spotlight this week with a couple of art shows where you can meet these talented youths and someday say, “I knew them before they were famous.” Check out details on those, plus more cool events and hot happenings in The Week Ahead…

3. Last Word: Corporate Musical Chairs, Another Dollar General and Ronnie Grisanti -

The three-way deal by which Memphis-based Fred’s was to buy hundreds of Rite-Aid stores from Walgreens just keeps getting worse for Fred’s even though the deal happened last week without Fred’s. An analyst says Fred’s got cut out because of questions about the corporation’s viability to enter into what is an ambitious change of course for the company on a large scale.

4. Last Word: Foote Homes Falls, Kellogg Layoffs and The SCS Ask -

Once upon a time in South Memphis it could be difficult to tell where Foote Homes began and Cleaborn Homes ended or vice versa. The key to this was which side of Lauderdale you were looking at. The east side was Cleaborn and the west was Foote with Lauderdale as the dividing line.

5. Last Word: Opening Day in Nashville, Parking Pass or Parking Space and Ell Persons -

Lots of formalities Tuesday in Nashville where the 2017 session of the Tennessee Legislature begins. And that’s what this first week back will be about on the floors of the state House and the state Senate. Away from the floors, the real business of speculation and vote counting and drafting language is already well underway.

6. GCT Promotes Asher To Artistic Director -

Justin Asher has been promoted to artistic director of Germantown Community Theatre. Asher joined GCT in January 2015 as technical director. He was promoted to associate producer in July 2016 and has assisted in the productions of the titles in GCT’s 45th season.

7. Crye-Leike Marks 40th Year in Business -

A Memphis original is celebrating its 40th year in business.

Memphis-based Crye-Leike Realtors Inc., which was started by principals Harold Crye and Dick Leike in 1977, now has 87 company-owned and 27 franchise offices in nine states with 3,200 sales associates.

8. The Week Ahead: May 16-22 -

With a barbecue-filled weekend behind us, it’s time to get this week started, Memphis! Here’s our roundup of local happenings you need to know about, from the Memphis in May Triathlon (where you can work off that pork belly) to the city’s first Palestine Festival (where, yes, there will be even more food).

9. Events -

Memphis Area Business and Professional Women will meet Monday, April 18, at 6 p.m. at Ervin Hypnosis Center, 2865 Summer Oaks Drive, suite 100. The group will map out its fundraising plans for Grace House of Memphis and share 2016-17 convention details. Email martha.ervin@ervinhypnosiscenter.com or call 901-489-5481.

10. Events -

The Bo-Keys will perform an album release concert for “Heartache by the Number,” on Thursday, April 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, 926 E. McLemore Ave. Admission is $10 at the door. Visit staxmuseum.com for details.

11. The Week Ahead: April 4-10 -

Let’s get this week started, Memphis! Here’s our roundup of local happenings you need to know about in the coming days, from an observance of the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to your first chance to visit Mud Island River Park this season.

12. Whitehaven View Apartments Sell for $2.7 Million -

1594 E. Holmes Road
Memphis, TN 38116

Sale Amount: $2.7 million

Sale Date: Dec. 14, 2015

13. Highland Row Developer Seeks Permit for Parking Garage -

Highland Row
Parking Garage
Permit Amount: $5 million

Application Date: September 2015
Completion: Late summer 2016
Owner: Poag Shopping Centers LLC
Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss
Contractor: Milhaus Development LLC
Details: Indianapolis-based developer Milhaus Development LLC and Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers LLC have pulled a $5 million building permit as they continue developing the new Highland Row urban infill development.

14. Methodist Healthcare Buys Office Building From Belz -

5865 Shelby Oaks Circle
Memphis, TN 38134
Sale Amount: $4 million

Sale Date: June 30, 2015
Buyer: Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
Seller: Belz Investco GP and Bico Associates GP
Details: Belz Enterprises and a partner have sold a Memphis office building to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare for $4 million.

15. Belz Sells Office Building for $4 Million -

Belz Enterprises and a partner have sold a Memphis office building to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare for $4 million.

Belz Investco GP and Bico Associates GP were listed as the sellers in the transaction, which included two parcels.

16. Belz Sells Building for $4 Million -

Belz Enterprises and a partner have sold a Memphis office building to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare for $4 million.

Belz Investco GP and Bico Associates GP were listed as the sellers in the transaction, which included two parcels.

17. Recruiter’s Career Twist -

Ask Janet Miller about her remarkable career at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and she’ll likely attribute it to good timing or pass credit onto others.

18. FedEx Decides Not to Renew a Renaissance Center Lease -

FedEx has decided not to renew a lease at a prominent East Memphis office building.

FedEx Services is not renewing a roughly 11,000-square-foot lease at the 189,644-square-foot Renaissance Center office building at 1715 Aaron Brenner Drive that expires Oct. 1. Employees affected by the decision will be moved to FedEx facilities, part of a broader consolidation and efficiency plan the company has been pursuing.

19. Belmont Welcomes Largest-Ever Freshman Class -

If you graduated from Belmont 20 years ago, you might not recognize the campus today.

Near ceaseless on-campus construction and a huge spike in enrollment has changed the once-sleepy little school into a major player in Nashville and in national collegiate circles.

20. Events -

The Downtown Alive concert series will feature Maitre D’s Thursday, May 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Court Square. The free series, produced by the Downtown Memphis Commission and Memphis Music Foundation, continues through June 26. Visit downtownmemphis.com.

21. Events -

Regional One Health will hold the 2014 Sports Related Brain Injury and Concussion Management Symposium Wednesday, May 7, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Saint Francis Hospital’s Longnotti Auditorium, 5959 Park Ave. Topics include “Mild TBI/Concussion,” “Neuropsychology and Sports Concussion” and “Return to Play After Concussion.” Email cchambers@regionalonehealth.org or call 545-8487 to register.

22. Events -

The Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability will hold a public meeting about the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan Tuesday, May 6, at Riverview Community Center, 1891 Kansas St. Drop by for 10 minutes during the open house, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., or attend the presentation and Q&A from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit midsouthgreenprint.org.

23. German Eatery Slated for Overton Square -

Overton Square will be getting an international flavor with the addition of a German-themed restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Paulette’s.

Chef David Scott Walker has signed a lease to open Schweinehaus, a restaurant that will feature servers decked out in traditional Germanic dress and communal, handmade wood tables found in many German beer halls, at 2110 Madison Ave.

24. Belz Sells Shelby Oaks EnSafe Center for $910,000 -

5710-5730 Summer Trees Drive
Memphis, TN 38134
Sale Amount: $910,000

Sale Date: Jan. 10, 2014
Buyer: EnSafe Inc.
Seller: BICO Associates GP
Details: An affiliate of Belz Enterprises has sold the five-building Shelby Oaks EnSafe Center office complex on Summer Trees Drive in Northeast Memphis for $910,000.

25. Belz Sells Shelby Oaks Ensafe Center for $910K -

An affiliate of Belz Enterprises has sold the five-building Shelby Oaks EnSafe Center office complex on Summer Trees Drive in Northeast Memphis for $910,000.

BICO Associates GP sold the property’s four parcels in a Jan. 10 warranty deed to EnSafe Inc., a Memphis-based environmental remediation engineering firm whose headquarters is at the complex.

26. Fewer Reservations -

The Memphis hotel market is being classified as somewhat sluggish in 2013 because of slower than anticipated convention traffic, but hotels such as the Memphis Marriott East and Downtown’s Madison Hotel reported busier second halves of the year.

27. Ruby Tuesday Sells Bartlett Lots for $1.1 Million -

8348 U.S. 64
Bartlett, TN 38133
Sale Amount: $1.1 million

Sale Date: Dec. 5, 2013

Buyer: 64 Kate Hyde Partners

28. Maryland REIT Buys Two Memphis Properties -

Affiliates of Hunt Valley, Md.-based real estate investment trust Omega Healthcare Investors Inc. have bought two Memphis properties for a total of $17.9 million.

29. Events -

Graceland will host the Elvis Week candlelight vigil Thursday, Aug. 15, at 8:30 p.m. at the gates of Graceland, 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd. Admission is free. Visit elvis.com/elvisweek for more information. More Elvis Week events are listed below.

30. Events -

The Memphis chapter of the American Payroll Association will meet Thursday, Aug. 8, at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. Glenn Hopper of ADP will discuss tax compliance. Cost is $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Visit memphisapa.org.

31. Selling Homes Becomes ‘Forever Job’ for Dacus -

Ashley Dacus got started as a Realtor in the worst possible economic climate, but with residential sales beginning to show signs of life, her optimism has been renewed.

32. National College Ready for Growth -

The National College of Business and Technology has a new building with new technology and more classroom space.

Now the for-profit school is waiting for an end to the lull it has seen since summer.

33. Events -

Christian Brothers University’s Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery will host an opening reception for the Memphis Camera Club’s “A Walk Through History (Floor to Ceiling)” Friday, Aug. 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Plough Memorial Library on CBU’s campus, 650 East Parkway S. Call 321-3243.

34. Events -

Chandler Reports will present the Master Your Market Second Quarter Update Thursday, Aug. 9, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Germantown Great Hall & Conference Center, 1900 S. Germantown Road. A panel of real estate professionals will provide perspectives on local market activity. Cost is $10 for Chandler subscribers and $15 for nonsubscribers. Register at seminars.memphisdailynews.com.

35. Events -

Chandler Reports will hold hands-on training seminars on its Shelby County Residential Service Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Memphis Area Association of Realtors computer lab, 6393 Poplar Ave. Cost is free. Contact Wendy Greenlaw at wendy@chandlerreports.com or 528-5273.

36. Drought Stress on Trees Deeper Than is Evident -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tulip poplar trees are dropping yellowed leaves, white pines are shedding second-year needles months early and the depth of damage to Tennessee's trees from the current drought might not be immediately evident.

37. Fair Expands One Source With New Broker, Listings -

For 15 years, One Source Commercial Inc. has been comprised of one agent: its founder, Rosemarie Fair.

38. Cargill Files $1.4M Permit App For Pres. Island Storage Bldg. -

2615 Channel Ave.
Memphis, TN 38113

Permit Cost: $1.4 million

Permit Date: Applied March 2012

39. Covenant Dove Finances Two Area Nursing Homes -

Bartlett-based Covenant Dove – an operator of skilled nursing facilities in 12 states – has filed two leasehold loans totaling $16.5 million for nursing homes in Bartlett and Collierville, part of an aggregate $165 million loan through The PrivateBank and Trust Co.

40. Events -

The Greater Memphis Chamber will hold a breakfast forum Thursday, March 22, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Memphis Marriott East, 2625 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Mike Brewer, vice president of Nike’s North America supply chain, will speak. Cost is $30 for members and $35 for nonmembers. Contact Ericka Milford at 543-3518 or emilford@memphischamber.com to register.

41. Benz Repair Shop to Open On Cooper St. -

A high-end automobile maintenance and repair shop soon will be added to Cooper-Young’s booming portfolio of local businesses.

Shane Herbers, founder of Midtown Motor Werks, has leased 5,000 square feet at 795 S. Cooper St. from Richard Sullivan.

42. $18.8M Loan Filed to Build Robinwood Retirement Community -

Construction Loan For Robinwood Retirement Community
Loan Amount: $18.8 million

Loan Date: Sept. 27, 2011

Maturity Date: Sept. 30, 2014, with conversion option that would extend maturity to Sept. 30, 2016

43. $18.8 Million Loan Filed for Retirement Property -

Lincoln, Neb.-based Robinwood Retirement Community LLC has filed an $18.8 million construction loan through First National Bank of Omaha for 11.6 acres in Bartlett slated to become Robinwood Retirement Community. The loan, dated Sept. 27, matures in 2014 with a conversion option that would extend its maturity to 2016.

44. Shelby Oaks Red Roof Among 143 Sold -

6055 Shelby Oaks Drive
Memphis, TN 38134
Sale Amount: $1.6 million

45. A Few More Stops on the French 75 Cocktail Circuit -

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the history of the French 75 cocktail and looked at two examples, one made by bartender Shawn Ilsley at Café 1912, the other concocted by Leanne Netherland at Circa.

46. Reservation Rebound -

The Memphis hotel and lodging market is experiencing increased demand and rising occupancy rates thanks to no new hotel construction and flat supply.

“Memphis is pretty much a mid-scale market, and the market is doing better right now than it was at this time last year,” said Chuck Pinkowski of the hotel consulting firm Pinkowski & Co. “With the improving economic situation, both commercial and leisure travel are coming back.”

47. Events -

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council will serve as host for a breakfast Wednesday, July 27, at 8:15 a.m. at One Commerce Square Annex. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will speak. Cost is $5. For reservations, call 818-2400.

48. Bloodworth’s Sustainability Ideal Formed at Early Age -

At a young age, Rusty Bloodworth knew he wanted to be an architect. As he matured, that passion morphed to an interest in handling more than the arrangement of buildings, but rather the design of the environment.

49. Ga.-Based Coastal Logistics Signs Lease -

A budding Savannah, Ga.-based third-party logistics firm is expanding into the Southeast Memphis industrial market. Coastal Logistics Group Inc. has signed a new 50,000-square-foot lease at 5715 Distribution Drive.

50. Events -

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC will present “Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance: What You Need to Know,” Thursday, June 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the law firm’s office, 165 Madison Ave., 20th floor. For more information or to register, contact rsvp@bakerdonelson.com.

51. Events -

Talk Shoppe will present “Benefit from the Wealth of Services Offered by the Shelby County Extension Service” Wednesday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Hyatt Place, 9161 Winchester Road. For more information, call Jo Garner at 482-0354.

52. Restaurant Uproot -

If a prime time television show moves to a different day and time, there’s undoubtedly a risk factor involved.

But if the show’s good enough, it’s going to attract you, said Scott Gentleman, general manager of Jim’s Place East, who hopes that theory also holds true for a popular restaurant.

53. 5325 Summer Ave Properties Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy -

5325 Summer Ave Properties LLC Tuesday filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

54. Cabot Affiliate Buys Airport Industrial Warehouse -

3924 Crowfarn Drive
Memphis, TN 38118
Sale Amount: $2.2 million
Sale Date: March 28, 2011
Buyer: Cabot III-TN1M01 LLC
Seller: MM Industrial Memphis LLC

55. Ripples From Stanford Scheme Still Felt in Memphis -

The court-appointed receiver who’s unwinding the now-defunct operations of Stanford Financial Group – once fueled by money from a giant Ponzi scheme – is preparing to sell off Stanford property in Collierville.

56. Louis Dreyfus Buys Kentucky Drive Warehouse -

2514 Kentucky Drive
Memphis, TN 38106
Sale Amount: $2.4 million

Sale Date: Dec. 28, 2010
Buyer: Louis Dreyfus Commodities Memphis Warehousing LLC
Seller: Westside Compress Co. Inc.

57. Georgia LLC Finances Belmont Square -

Belmont Square LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, has financed property at 4500 Summer Ave. through the Bank of North Georgia for $3.7 million.

58. Pacific Logistics Picks Olive Branch for Hub -

Pacific Logistics Corp. has signed a lease for its first Memphis-area location, which will serve as a regional hub for the company’s growing shoe and retail business.

59. As Calendar Turns to New Year, Recipe for Success Unchanged -

It takes a particular poverty of the imagination to quote the opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” every time one writes a story summing up a year, and yet 2010 truly does seem as if it were “the best of times and the worst of times” in the local restaurant business.

60. IDB Approves Dalphis Move to Airport Area -

The same day local leaders celebrated the coming move of Electrolux to the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, members of the Memphis-Shelby County Industrial Development Board were reminded that there remains intense competition for jobs already in Memphis.

61. IDB Approves Dalphis Move To Airport Area -

The Memphis-Shelby County Industrial Development Board (IDB) has approved a three-year, $2.4 million PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for a Memphis window coverings company to move from the Sycamore View-Interstate 40 area to the Airport Industrial Park area.

62. Calif. Investor Buys Midtown Apartments -

A vintage apartment complex in Midtown is under new ownership.

Gabrion Properties LLC closed on approximately 20,000 total square feet of space in Cherokee Arms Apartments for $455,000. The three-story apartment complex, 1508 Madison Ave., contains 30 studio apartments with historic vintage architecture.

63. Historic Restaurant to Begin New Chapter in New Locale -

Jim’s Place restaurant was founded Downtown in 1921. Eighty-nine years later, the Taras family still owns Jim’s Place East, on Shelby Oaks Drive, and Jim’s Place Grille, in Collierville, though a major change is coming for Jim’s Place East in the next few months.

64. ‘Ways to Win’ Seminar Planned for July 14 -

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International and the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South will hold a half-day summer marketing seminar and luncheon July 14.

The “Ways to Win in 2010” seminar will feature a variety of speakers sharing their marketing strategies.

65. Schoolhouse Shuffle -

On a cold February morning, a group of excited parents clustered in a tent in back of Kate Bond Elementary School.

66. Raleigh-Bartlett Strip Center Fills Back Up -

ORIX Capital Markets, a Dallas-based company operating as the special servicer for a North Memphis retail center, is working to quickly turn around a property once headed for foreclosure.

Village on the Pike at 2974 Covington Pike between Raleigh and Bartlett already is on the upswing thanks to a new owner in ORIX and new leasing and management agent in CB Richard Ellis Memphis.

67. Medical Office Owner Files Loan on Property -

Munn Investment Properties LLC has filed a $715,000 loan through Metropolitan Bank on its 5,372-square-foot office building at 6750 Summer Oaks Cove in Bartlett.

68. Former Orgill Distribution Center Sold Following Foreclosure -

2108 Latham St.
Memphis, TN 38109
Sale Amount: $2.5 Million

Sale Date: March 9, 2010
Buyer: NW-2100 Latham Street LLC
Seller: Bradley Ottinger, trustee

69. New Restaurants Quickly Change Cooper-Young Landscape -

Afew weeks ago, you might have heard waves of despair sweeping through the intersection at Cooper Street and Young Avenue, when Dish, the long-running bar/restaurant, and Blue Fish, the upscale seafood restaurant, closed abruptly.

70. Events -

The Center City Commission Search Committee will meet today at 2 p.m. at the CCC office, 114 N. Main St.

71. Events -

The Memphis Zoo will host a Valentine’s Dinner today at 6:30 p.m. at Teton Trek’s Great Lodge. Cost is $125 per person and $1,000 for a private table of six. Chef John Bragg of Circa will prepare the meal. For reservations, call 333-6572.

72. Stars Start to Align In Residential Real Estate Market -

The first week of November brought a double dose of good news for the beleaguered real estate industry. Not only did Congress extend and expand its first-time homebuyers tax credit, but the most recent local sales report was peppered with positive signs.

73. Though New Place Not There Yet, Wally Joe Still Working It -

If the truism in the restaurant industry is it takes twice as long to open a restaurant as you plan, try this: Wally Joe left his eponymous establishment on Sanderlin Avenue, which opened in May 2002, in December 2006.

74. Memphis College of Art Files Loan to Build Residence Hall -

139 N. Barksdale St.
Memphis, TN 38104
Loan Amount: $3.1 Million

Loan Date: Oct. 1, 2009
Maturity Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Borrower: Memphis College of Art
Lender: First Tennessee Bank NA

75. Events -

The Growth Coach of Memphis will hold a seminar for women business owners today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2840 Summer Oaks, Suite 103. The title of the seminar is “Setting Your Business on Auto-Pilot to Earn More, Work Less and Enjoy a Balanced Life.” To register, visit www.regonline.com/thestrategicmindset1009.

76. Events -

The Small Business Chamber will host a Lunch and Learn today from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Parmasters Golf, 888 S. White Station Road. Carl Raff and Dave Williams of Business Enhancement Associates will present “Common Pitfalls Small Businesses Can Avoid in Order to Stay Afloat.” To register, e-mail Sally Baker Brenner at andre@smallbusinesschamber.com.

77. Sunridge Townhouses Land New Owner -

Charles W. Shoffner has bought the 50-unit Sunridge Townhouses complex in Raleigh for $1.1 million from JPMorgan Chase Bank, formerly known as The Chase Manhattan Bank. Built in 1975, the townhouses sit at 4990 Stage Road, west of Covington Pike and southeast of the Raleigh Springs Mall. The sale closed Sept. 23.

78. Events -

The Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a seminar series for business owners and executives today from 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the Community Room of Baptist Rehabilitation Germantown, 2100 Exeter Road. Cost is $10. Breakfast will be provided. For reservations, call 755-1200.

79. Events -

The Memphis Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators will hold a continuing legal education seminar titled “Centered Leadership” Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at The Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave. Legal consultant Kathy Story will present the seminar. The event is free for members and $25 for nonmembers. To register, e-mail Kathy Pleasants at kpleasants@tennessee.edu.

80. Justin's Empire: Timberlake drives business interests where it all began -

Justin Timberlake might be best known for hit records, dance moves and sold-out concerts, but the 28-year-old entertainer extraordinaire is much more than a singer/dancer/performer. The award-winning, chart-topping Timberlake – or, simply, JT – has become an institution, a brand name that transcends his showbiz persona and carries as much cachet as any living celebrity.

81. Events -

Memphis City Schools will host its first Memphis Interscholastic Athletic Association Golf Classic today at 8 a.m. at Irene Golf & Country Club, 8141 Irene Blvd. Tournament fees are $250 per person and $1,000 for teams of four. For more information or tickets, call 748-8889.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New era dawns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profits and losses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doing less with fewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanted: free (or reduced) labor

Pepe offered a basic definition of citizen journalism.

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

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

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

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

Worldwide wakeup call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The anonymity of snark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gum-popping good times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neighborly gestures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Escape hatch

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

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

Peck wasn’t interested in the distinction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the doghouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Treacherous ground’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The favored few

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prism of perception

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

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

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

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

When Herenton won, the ambivalence turned into hostility.

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

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

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

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

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

Distance learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

83. Lausanne’s Expansion Calls for New Library, Gymnasium -

Lausanne Collegiate School is bolstering its academic and athletic programs with a $12 million investment that will bring a new library and indoor/outdoor sports complexes to the East Memphis private school.

84. Events -

The Greater Memphis Chamber will present the first breakfast meeting in its Human Health Series today from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at The Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave. Phil Smeltzer will speak on “Wellness Programs, Where’s the Money?” The meeting is free to members and prospective members. For reservations, contact Ericka Milford at emilford@memphischamber.com or 543-3518.

85. World Overcomers Buys Hickory Ridge Mall Macy’s -

6001 Winchester Road
Memphis, TN 38115
Sale Amount: $1 Million

Sale Date: Feb. 26, 2009
Buyer: World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Inc.
Seller: Macy’s Retail Holdings Inc.

86. Summer Ave. Apartment Complex Sells for $1.1 Million -

The 32-unit Summer Oaks apartment complex at 4030 Summer Ave. in Berclair has sold for $1.1 million to Charles Shoffner of Collierville. The sale occurred in January, although the transaction wasn’t processed by the Shelby County Register of Deeds until last week.

87. Goddard School Planned For Winchester Road in Collierville -

2.5 Acres
Collierville, TN 38017
Loan Amount: $1.3 Million

Loan Date: Feb. 13, 2009
Maturity Date: N/A
Borrower: R.S. Harris LLC
Lender: First Citizens National Bank

88. Oliver Church Issued Permit for New Facility -

Oliver Creek Church of Christ has been issued a $1.8 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a church on 5 acres at 8313 U.S. 70 in unincorporated Shelby County. The 13,500-square-foot facility will include a sanctuary, classrooms, fellowship area and offices.

89. Oliver Creek Church Files $1.8 Million Permit -

Oliver Creek Church of Christ has filed a $1.8 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a church at 8313 U.S. 70 in unincorporated Shelby County.

90. Racquet Club’s New Owners To Make Improvements -

5111 Sanderlin Ave.
Memphis, TN 38117
Sale Amount: $4.4 Million

Sale Date: Aug. 29, 2008
Buyer: Tennis Club of Memphis LLC
Seller: Racquet Club Inc.
Loan Amount: $3 million
Loan Date: Aug. 29, 2008
Maturity Date: N/A
Lender: Regions Bank

91. Bartlett Office Building Sells for Close to $1M -

West Cermak Realty LLC of Maryland has bought the 15,000-square-foot office building at 5520 Shelby Oaks Drive in Bartlett for $960,000. The seller was Darren Metz, CEO of Nashville-based NovaCopy Inc., which operates one of its three locations in the building.

92. Shelby County Schools To Build New Middle School -

5600 Meadowbriar Trail
Permit Amount: $10 million
Project Cost:$13.5 million

Unincorporated Shelby County

Permit Date: Applied May 2008
Completion: Summer 2009
Owner: Shelby County Schools
Tenant: Shelby County Schools
Architect: McGehee/Nicholson/Burke/Architects
Contractor: Webb Building Corp.

93. Archived Article -

7691 Poplar Ave.
Germantown, TN 38138
Permit Amount: $50.9 million
Project Cost: $80 million
Permit Date: Applied February 2008
Completion: 2011
Owner: Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital
Tenant: Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital
Architect: TRO Jung/Brennen Inc.
Contractor: Flintco Inc.
Details: Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital filed application last week to build a 220,000-square-foot pavilion to house women's services, including inpatient beds, operating rooms and support space. In addition to the new construction, the hospital's overall plans include renovation of 88,000 square feet in the existing facility. The expansion at Methodist's Germantown location does not call for any new net beds to the system, a spokesperson said. Instead, it would transfer 100 beds from elsewhere within the system. The entire campus will be about 580,000 square feet once the expansion and renovation are complete. This latest step of the construction process comes on the heels of last summer's $9 million building permit to build a 260,000-square-foot parking deck at the Germantown location.
699 Oakleaf Office Lane
Memphis, TN 38117
Sale Amount: $1.8 million
Sale Date: Feb. 21, 2008
Buyer: Rosecrest
Seller: Oakwood Professional Building LLC
Details: An entity called Rosecrest bought a 14,000-square-foot office building at 699 Oakleaf Office Lane for $1.8 million from Oakwood Professional Building LLC. Built in 2003, the two-story building sits on slightly less than an acre at the northwest corner of Spottswood Avenue and Oakleaf Office Lane east of South Perkins Road. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $953,900. Tenants include Fitness First Studio, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes and Fish and Associates financial planning services, among others.
3860 E. Holmes Road
Memphis, TN 38118
Permit Amount: $808,000
Project Cost: N/A
Permit Date: Applied February 2008
Completion: N/A
Owner: Panattoni Development Co.
Contractor: Panattoni Construction Inc.
Details: Panattoni Development Co. has filed an $808,000 building permit to repair an industrial property damaged in the Feb. 5 storm that tore through Southeast Memphis. The 500,000-square-foot warehouse is part of Sacramento, Calif.-based Panattoni's Memphis Oaks Distribution Center on the northeast corner of Getwell Road and East Holmes Road. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $14.8 million. A call to the company's local office was not returned.

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94. Numbers Confirm That '07 Construction Went From High-Octane to Running on Fumes -

As president of one of Memphis' largest homebuilders and a 35-year industry veteran, Jerry Gillis of FaxonGillis Homes had no trouble summing up construction activity during the past year: "It started out with a bang and ended with a whimper." Indeed it did.

95. Construction Loan FiledFor 9 Acres on U.S. 70 -      PPM X LP has filed a $2.5 million construction loan through Triumph Bank for two parcels on U.S. 70, also known as Summer Avenue.
     The property includes a 5.57-acre parcel and a 3.51-acre

96. Memphis Industrial Market Experiences 'Flat' 3rd Quarter -

One large and lingering transaction resulted in a poor showing for Memphis' industrial leasing market during the third quarter of 2007.

Carrier Corp. formally vacated the 500,000 square feet it once occupied in the Southpoint Distribution Center in South Memphis to move to Holly Springs, Miss., in Marshall County.

97. Safeway Group Buys Fourth Memphis Shopping Center -

6743-6797 Winchester Road
Memphis, TN 38115
Sale Amount: $2.5 million

Sale Date: Oct. 22, 2007

Buyer: Fairington Shopping Center LLC

98. Archived Article -

1068 Cresthaven Road
Memphis, TN 38119
Sale Amount: $3.3 million

Sale Date: Aug. 21, 2007

Buyer: FPA Cresthaven Associates LLC

99. Holy Nation Church BuysOld Brownsville Property -      The former home of Brownsville Road Church of Christ on Old Brownsville Road has sold for $1.8 million.
     Trustees of and for Holy Nation Church of Memphis and Tennessee Fourth Ecclesiasti

100. At Jim's Place, It's All in the Family -

When Nick Taras crossed the Atlantic Ocean from mainland Greece in 1910, little did he know he would start a Memphis dining institution.

The opening of Jim's Place Grille in Collierville last month not only marked 85 years of the Taras' Greek-inspired cuisine in Memphis, but it was the 30th anniversary of the Grille's predecessor, Jim's Place East.