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VOL. 122 | NO. 225 | Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Daily Digest

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Two Matthews Bros. Properties Sell at Foreclosure Auction

     Two properties tied to Mark S. Matthews were bought by INSOUTH Bank at a foreclosure auction last week after the borrowing entities - of which Matthews is president - defaulted on loans through INSOUTH.
     Stewart G. Austin Jr. and A. James Reed were successor trustees for the sale.
     In the first transaction, INSOUTH bought the Matthews Brothers Homebuilders headquarters at 138 Timber Creek Drive in Cordova for $1.1 million after Timber Creek Investments LLC defaulted on a $1.2 million loan taken out in June 2006. The loan was in conjunction with Timber Creek Investments' purchase of the property from Jere W. Bowden for $1.2 million.
     The property is a 10,428-square-foot, two-story office building built in 1998 on the south side of Timber Creek Drive east of Germantown Parkway. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $1 million.
     In the second transaction, INSOUTH bought three parcels on Varnavas Drive in Cordova for $1.7 million after MSM PD Holdings I LLC defaulted on a $1.9 million construction loan. The loan was taken out at the same time MSM PD Holdings bought the property from Mark S. Matthews for $500,000.
     The parcels contain vacant and non-vacant land totaling 5.73 acres, and the assessor's 2007 appraisal was $1.5 million.
     Mark S. Matthews signed loan documents as president of Timber Creek Investments and MSM PD Holdings.
     Reached by phone Monday, Matthews declined comment on the foreclosures.
     Multiple foreclosure notices, liens and in-lieu-of-foreclosure sales have been filed for entities related to the Matthews brothers. For more information, see The Daily News Online at www.memphisdailynews.com.

Hermitage Apartments Sells to California Group

     The Hermitage Apartments, an 80-unit apartment community in Midtown Memphis, recently sold for $1.7 million or $21,250 per unit.
     The apartments were built in 1968.
     Tommy Bronson III and Blake Pera of CB Richard Ellis Memphis' Multifamily Division represented Hermitage-Memphis LLC in the sale to Hermitage Apartments Memphis LLC, a division of Better Buildings & Apartments of California.
     In August, Better Buildings & Apartments LLC bought The Birches Townhouses, about a mile from Graceland in Whitehaven, for $3.6 million.

Tactical Magic Partners With Russian Company

     Memphis-based advertising and branding company Tactical Magic has forged a partnership with Moscow-based NV-Brand to create a brand for one of Russia's largest trade companies.
     Tactical Magic and NV-Brand will combine forces to create a brand for Santechkomplekt, which supplies pipes, fittings, plumbing materials and other bathroom accessories.
     Trace Hallowell, creative director of Tactical Magic, met Vladimir Federov, CEO of NV-Brand, when a group of Russian advertising agency executives toured Memphis in 2004.

Black Trade Unionists Honors Cohen

     Region Four of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), which represents most of Tennessee and Kentucky, has presented its annual Political Community Service Award to U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.
     The award is given to individuals who have shown support for the goals and aspirations of the CBTU in the political arena. Cohen is the first sitting congressman to receive the award.
     Cohen received numerous nominations from CBTU members based on his past records in both the Tennessee Senate and U.S. Congress in supporting minority workers and unions.

Supreme Court to Decide If 401(k) Plans can be Sued

     A decision by U.S. Supreme Court justices could determine what, if any, steps can be taken when an employer disregards an employee's request regarding a 401(k) retirement plan.
     James LaRue said he lost $150,000 when his instructions to his employer on where to invest money in his retirement plan were ignored.
     Now the Supreme Court will decide whether a federal pension-protection law gives LaRue the right to sue to recover his losses. Arguments in the case, which has far-reaching consequences, were scheduled for Monday.
     LaRue, who used to work at a management consulting firm, is among the 42 million workers who contributed to a 401(k) retirement plan. At issue in LaRue's case are the limits to lawsuits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. It regulates private-sector retirement plans holding more than $5.5 trillion in assets, including $2 trillion in an estimated quarter of a million 401(k) plans across the country.
     Unlike traditional pension plans, participants in 401(k) plans - named after a section in tax law - do not know how much money they will receive in retirement. It depends on how well their chosen investments have performed.
     ERISA was designed to safeguard pension fund money from misappropriation. The 1974 law followed the failure of some companies to pay promised pensions and extensive looting of some pension and welfare funds at companies and labor unions.
     LaRue said that in 2000 and 2001 he requested changes in his investment allocations in mutual funds that were available to participants in his company's 401(k) plan. He said the requests were not honored.

Firefighters Receive Terrorism Training

     Firefighters in major cities are being trained to take on a new role as lookouts for terrorism, raising concerns of eroding their standing as trusted American icons and infringing on people's privacy.
     Unlike police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel need no warrants to enter hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings each year, which puts them in position to spot behavior that could indicate terror activity or planning.
     There are fears, however, that they could lose the faith of a skeptical public by becoming the eyes of the government, looking for suspicious items such as building blueprints or bomb-making manuals or materials.
     Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Americans have surrendered some privacy rights in an effort to prevent future strikes. The government monitors telephone calls and e-mails; people who fly have their belongings searched before boarding and are limited in what they can carry; and some people have trouble traveling because their names are similar to those on terrorist watch lists.
     The American Civil Liberties Union has said using firefighters to gather intelligence is another step in that direction. Mike German, a former FBI agent who now is national security policy counsel to the ACLU, said the concept is dangerously close to the Bush administration's 2002 proposal to have workers with access to private homes, such as postal carriers and telephone repairmen, report suspicious behavior to the FBI.
     The Homeland Security Department is testing a program with the New York City fire department to share intelligence information so firefighters are better prepared when they respond to emergency calls. Homeland Security also trains the New York City fire service on how to identify material or behavior that might indicate terrorist activities. If it is successful, the government intends to expand the program to other major metropolitan areas.
     The program was started last December. So far, fire services in Washington, Phoenix and Atlanta also have received terror-related intelligence training.

Thompson Campaign Uses New Phone Strategy

     The 2008 presidential campaign of former Tennessee senator and University of Memphis graduate Fred Thompson recently announced it is pursuing an uncommon strategy in voter outreach.
     Via a "Phone for Fred" button that can be clicked on the campaign's Web site, www.fred08.com., the campaign is allowing volunteers to download the names and phone numbers of potential voters in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Volunteers across the country can download the information as long as they are registered on the campaign Web site.
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