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VOL. 7 | NO. 15 | Saturday, April 5, 2014

Daily Digest

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UTHSC Vice Chancellor Wins Health Care Award

Kennard Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received the Healthcare Education Award from the Nashville-based Council on Workforce Innovation.

The statewide award, presented at the 2014 Healthcare Diversity Forum in Nashville, recognized Brown’s efforts in promoting diversity in health care education. The regional forum, which drew administrators, clinicians, educators, human resources specialists and business leaders, focused on the financial value of diversity in the health care workforce, and discussed resources for advancing quality health care delivery for underrepresented populations.

The Council on Workforce Innovation is part of the National Organization for Workforce Diversity, a private, public and nonprofit coalition to promote workforce diversity initiatives.

Race Judicata 5K To be Held Saturday

The Race Judicata 5K fundraiser for Memphis Area Legal Services will be held Saturday, April 5, at 5 p.m. at Downtown’s Mississippi River Park.

The annual race is hosted by the Student Bar Association at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

Racers can register at racejudicatamemphis.org in advance or at Mississippi River Park, at Jefferson Avenue and Riverside Drive, starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The race features food and live music as well as medals for the top-placing runners in divisions organized by gender and age group.

The entry fee is $20 in advance or $25 the day of the race.

City Beer Sales Bill Headed to Haslam

A bill to allow local governments to obtain permits to sell beer is headed for Gov. Bill Haslam's desk after being approved by the House on Thursday.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Ryan Hayes of Knoxville was passed on 78-8 vote. The Senate voted 27-4 in favor of the bill last month.

The bill seeks to codify the wide practice of municipal facilities like golf courses selling beer after a recent state attorney general's opinion found that state law limited permits to private entities.

That opinion was issued after Clarksville officials raised concerns about a 2012 ordinance allowing beer sales at city-owned venues for special events.

Other cities like Nashville decided to continue selling beer at golf courses while the Legislature considered updating state law on the matter.

Malco to Leave Wolfchase in 2017

Rather than renew the lease to its cinema inside the Wolfchase Galleria mall when it ends in 2017, Malco has decided to replace it by building a new cinema on U.S. 64, west of Houston Levee Road.

Malco spokeswoman Karen Scott said it’s a result of the Memphis-based theater chain preferring to build free-standing facilities moving forward, rather than operate inside someone else’s facility, as it has done at Wolfchase.

“The Highway 64 corridor is the right place for our future theater, and the property has been in the family for decades, waiting for the right time,” she said.

Loaded for Bear Agency Teams with Crosstown

Loaded for Bear, a local advertising, graphic design and public relations agency, has announced a partnership with the Crosstown redevelopment project.

The company announced in a Facebook post Wednesday, April 2, that “we look forward to working alongside this visionary group to realize the epic potential of a building, a neighborhood and a city.”

The company told The Daily News that relationship at this point means the agency is working with the Crosstown project for branding purposes.

April is Tennessee Valley Authority Energy Month

The Tennessee Valley Authority is partnering with local power companies and five science museums across Tennessee, including the Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums, to offer TVA Energy Month in April.

Special activities, demonstrations and hands-on events are planned for children and adults, exploring how energy is created and how it is used in our daily lives.

TVA and local power companies are sponsoring Energy Month at the five museums that make up The Science Alliance of Tennessee: the Pink Palace Family of Museums, Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Hands On Regional Museum in Johnson City, Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga and East Tennessee Discovery Center/The MUSE in Knoxville.

For more about energy in kid-friendly terms, visit tvakids.com.

State DCS Releases Child Death Figures

Tennessee's Department of Children's Services has published the first set of child fatality statistics since an agency overhaul following revelations that child welfare officials did not know how many children were dying in DCS custody.

The statistics released this week were gathered under a new process for reporting, counting and investigating deaths.

The primary concern from lawmakers and the public has been cases where DCS workers were aware of abuse or neglect allegations and may have failed to act.

The Tennessean reports the agency investigated 245 deaths from 2013, finding evidence of abuse or neglect in 40 cases. Not all investigations are complete, but DCS says that in 232 of those cases the children were not in state custody. However, 53 percent of those children been investigated by child welfare workers within the three years before their deaths.

DCS Deputy Commissioner of Child Safety Scott Modell said the agency will monitor those figures.

State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, warned that the fact that most of the children who died were not in DCS custody could be misleading.

"If we have placed children with abusers – and we do it all the time – and the child dies, the child is not in DCS custody, but DCS is the entity that placed them back in an abusive situation," she said.

Jones is a frequent critic of the agency, but she praised the department's new method for tracking deaths. In 2012, Jones found DCS had broken the law by not reporting child deaths to lawmakers. Resulting scrutiny led DCS to revise its count of child deaths – increasing it at least five times before settling on a final number.

Unemployment Aid Applications Rise

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. Despite the increase, the number remains close to pre-recession levels and points to stable hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, inched up 250 to 319,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen back to roughly pre-recession levels, an indication that companies are letting go of fewer workers and expect solid economic growth in the months ahead.

The low level of applications for benefits has boosted optimism about how many jobs employers added in March. Weekly claims for unemployment aid have reached a level that is typically consistent with monthly job gains of more than 200,000.

Hooks Institute Honors Civil Rights Legacy

In an effort to bring the American civil rights movement to life for Memphians, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, located at the University of Memphis, will host the “Join Hands for Change Gala: The Civil Rights Movement's Influence on Music, Fashion and Culture” April 26 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at The Hotel Memphis, 2625 Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Part entertainment and part education, the gala will include music, dancing and dining, as well as multimedia presentations to walk guests through the 1960s. Program participants include Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

The Hooks Institute's honoree for the evening will be Beverly Robertson, who is ending her tenure as president of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Visit memphis.edu/benhooks for more information.

Memphis Football On National TV

The American Athletic Conference has announced that the University of Memphis’ Nov. 7 football game at Temple will be broadcast by ESPNU. Memphis will now play consecutive games on Friday nights. The Tigers’ home game against Tulsa Oct. 31 will also be broadcast on ESPN or ESPNU.

Memphis’ 2014 football schedule begins with a home game against Austin Peay on Aug. 30. The Tigers will play six games in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, concluding the regular season with two straight American Athletic Conference home games in late November.

The Tigers are currently in the midst of spring practice. Memphis closes out the spring with the annual Blue-Gray Game on April 11 at 7 p.m.

City, Schools Agree To Mediation on Funding

The city of Memphis and Shelby County Schools have agreed to an “official mediation process with a third party mediator” to resolve the $57 million claim and judgment the school system has against the city and the $89 million counterclaim the city is pursuing against the school system for capital funding.

Memphis City Council chairman Jim Strickland disclosed the agreement Tuesday as the council debated a resolution by council member Lee Harris to build over several fiscal years a city fund to pay the judgment.

Harris’ plan to establish a “schools litigation fund,” which would have incrementally set aside money the city owes Shelby County Schools for $57 million in cuts the council made in 2008, was rewritten with a different outcome.

The council instead approved a substitute resolution that affirms the council is pursuing a legal counterclaim against the school system for capital funding of $89 million it claims the city is owed.

Council member Wanda Halbert proposed the alternate resolution after council attorney Allan Wade said Harris’ plan would undermine the city’s legal strategy.

Southbrook Mall Funding Sent Back to Committee

A bid to bring back to life $1.5 million in city funding for a renovation of the Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven was delayed Tuesday, April 1, by the Memphis City Council and sent back to committee for more discussion.

Owners of the property told council members they want city funding to repair the roof, heating and air conditioning at the mall. Wharton proposed an overhaul of the mall earlier this year as a “town center” in which city government would relocate some offices. But mall owners, who have formed a nonprofit group, told council members they don’t want that kind of renovation.

The $1.5 million in city funding approved by the council last year was with conditions – mainly a legal opinion on whether the funding would constitute an illegal use of public funding for a private use. City attorneys as well as bond counsel told the council in writing in October that the mall renovations are a private use for which the federal funding could not be used without endangering the larger amount of federal funding for streetscape improvements along Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Moore Added Back To May Primary Ballot

Shelby County Commission candidate Edith Ann Moore is back on the ballot for the District 6 Democratic primary in May, following a temporary injunction from Chancellor Arnold Goldin.

Moore appealed the Shelby County Election Commission’s March decision to decertify her as a candidate because they concluded she did not live on Gladstone Street in Raleigh, which is in District 6.

The commission based that on complaints from other homeowners on the street as well as an investigation by the district attorney general’s office that concluded her primary residence was not on Gladstone.

Moore appealed to Chancery Court, and Goldin ruled that the Shelby County charter only requires that Moore be registered to vote in the district when she filed her qualifying petition for the election.

All sides in the case have until the end of April to notify Goldin of any further hearings they might request on the matter. If not, the next step would be to make the injunction permanent.

Laurelwood Unplugged Concerts Back on Calendar

Laurelwood Shopping Center is kicking off the latest version of its yearly concert series.

Laurelwood Unplugged will feature musicians playing each Thursday night during the month of April from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Laurelwood courtyard. In case of rain, the concert will relocate to Fleet Feet Sports to the east of Panera Bread in Laurelwood.

The concert lineup includes Shannon McNally on April 3, Myla Smith on April 10, Jen and Levin on April 17 and the Stax Music Academy on April 24.

Children’s Commission Wants Pre-K Expansion

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is recommending the state expand its pre-K and home visitation programs to help youth be more successful in school and life.

The commission is basing its recommendations on a policy report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count project.

The report identifies opportunity disparities between racial and ethnic groups and recommends ways to address them.

Besides pre-K and home visitation, the commission says programs like family resource centers also provide foundational opportunities for children to be successful.

The report recommends expanded and improved data collection, and encourages analysis and use of this data to yield the greatest impact on eliminating opportunity gaps.

The commission is a state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee's children and families.

Manufacturing Grew More Quickly in March

U.S. manufacturing grew at a slightly faster pace in March compared with February as factory output recovered from disruptions caused by severe winter weather. Manufacturers also received more orders, suggesting that production could strengthen a bit in the months ahead. The Institute for Supply Management, a group of purchasing managers, said Tuesday that its manufacturing index increased to 53.7 from 53.2 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The increase suggests that manufacturing is growing at a steady but modest pace after cold winter weather caused a sharp slowdown in the first two months of the year.

Even so, factories are hiring at the slowest pace in nine months, the survey found. The government will release its official jobs report for March on Friday.

Manufacturing activity had plunged in January as harsh snow storms shut down factories and disrupted supply shipments. It rebounded slightly in February as orders and stockpiles grew. But a measure of production plummeted in February to a five-year low. That measure recovered all its losses in March.

The overall index remains below the level that prevailed in the second half of last year, when it regularly topped 56.

"There's still some catching up to do," said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. "But at least it is heading in the right direction."

Music Series Coming To Overton Square

Overton Square is getting a live music series called Thursdays Squared.

Resource Entertainment Group is launching the event, which will arrive at the Tower Courtyard at Trimble Place and Florence Street on Thursdays starting April 17. It’ll be a concert, but also more than that – a street party with an outdoor music festival feel that includes beer and wine for sale. Covers will range from $5 to $15 depending on the headlining band. Up first is Party Planet April 17, with special guests including Al Kapone, Ruby Wilson and more.

Redistricting Has Little Effect on Tenn. GOP

While Republican lawmakers in some states may have benefited from congressional redistricting, the changes had little effect in Tennessee.

Republicans were able to give themselves a built-in advantage in House elections by doing well in the statewide elections in many states, then gerrymandering congressional districts in key states after the 2010 census. The strategy may prove to be advantageous going into the 2014 midterm elections and beyond, regardless of the political climate in November.

In Tennessee, for the most part, the redistricting solidified the Republican stronghold. The GOP occupies seven of the nine congressional seats.

"It essentially made the districts ... which were already safe for one party or another to continue to be safe," said Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer.

He noted one thing Tennessee Republicans didn't do was divide Nashville among several congressional seats, which was a relief to some Democrats. Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, one of two Democrats in Tennessee's nine-member congressional delegation, was among those who spoke out against breaking up the 5th District.

Cooper represents most of Nashville and parts of Cheatham and Wilson counties. If the change had occurred, Cooper would have lost Wilson County, and gained heavily Republican areas in the southern part of Nashville, plus more of Cheatham County and all of Dickson County.

Redbirds, AutoZone Park Sales Finalized

The city of Memphis, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation have completed the ownership transactions of the Redbirds and AutoZone Park.

Per the agreement, the Cardinals have acquired the Redbirds (their Triple-A farm club), while the city of Memphis has acquired AutoZone Park. The city will lease the ballpark to the Redbirds through a long-term agreement. Included is a substantial, multiseason capital investment in the ballpark.

At closing, Fundamental Advisors LP, the Redbirds Foundation’s sole bondholder, retired the original bonds issued by the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp.

“Finalizing this deal represents a positive move toward stability of professional baseball in Memphis,” William DeWitt Jr., chairman and CEO of the Cardinals, said in a statement.

“This is a great day for the people of Memphis,” said John Pontius, treasurer for the Redbirds Foundation.

Sam Moore Records Song to Honor King

Veteran singer Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam & Dave is releasing a song in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. to coincide with the anniversary of the civil rights leader's death.

Known as the "Legendary Soul Man," Moore teamed with producer Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell and studio musicians to record "They Killed a King" in Memphis in January. Mitchell is the son of the late Willie Mitchell, an influential producer who worked with soul artist Al Green and others at Hi Records in Memphis.

The song is being released Friday, April 4, the 46th anniversary of King's assassination. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

Moore and his Sam & Dave singing partner, the late Dave Prater Jr., recorded several soul and R&B hits such as "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'" at Stax Records. "They Killed a King" is reminiscent of those songs, with a prominent horn section and upbeat rhythm. Moore's voice stills sounds strong and soulful.

The song was written by Bobbejaan Schoepen, a Belgian, and musician Mel Turner in the aftermath of King's assassination. The song's chorus says of King: "You know he fought for love and freedom, he fought for all mankind."

Moore knew King and performed at many of his speeches and rallies. He said he wanted to record the song to remind people of King's message of peace, equality and respect.

"I'm just an old-fashioned gospel singer that honored him and respected him and his memory," Moore told The Associated Press on Monday.

Moore is scheduled to perform "They Killed a King" at Stax Academy in Memphis on April 26.

Two Film Programs Launching in April

Indie Memphis and Crosstown Arts are offering two programs for Memphis-area filmmakers and film lovers next month.

Both programs will be held at Crosstown Arts, 430 N. Cleveland St.

Shoot & Splice is a monthly filmmaking forum exploring technical and creative topics related to film production. The first will be offered Tuesday, April 8. The program will begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. for networking.

MicroCinema Club, meanwhile, is a revival of a monthly short film screening series offered by Indie Memphis from 2004 to 2009. The first screening will begin at 7 p.m. April 24.

Kellogg Lockout Leads To NLRB Complaint

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Kellogg Co. related to a lockout of more than 200 employees at its Memphis facility.

In a news release, the board says Kellogg violated the National Labor Relations Act by insisting on an impasse on bargaining proposals related to wages and benefits and by locking out the workers "in furtherance of its bad-faith bargaining position." The complaint says Kellogg failed to provide requested information that would help the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union assess Kellogg's bargaining proposals.

The complaint comes five months after contract negotiations between the company and the union broke down. Workers have picketed outside the plant since then.

A hearing is set for May 5 in Memphis.

Kellogg is based in Battle Creek, Mich.

Consumer Confidence Slips in March

U.S. consumer sentiment slipped in March from the previous month, as Americans said they were less likely to buy cars and homes because of slightly higher interest rates. The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index dipped to 80 in March from 81.6 in February. That's still about five points higher than last fall, when sentiment fell during the government shutdown. The index was 82.5 in December.

Economists say that the figures suggest confidence didn't take a big hit during the harsh winter. That could bode well for spending as the weather improves.

And Americans are more optimistic about the economy this year. One out of three respondents said they expect their finances to improve in the year ahead, the highest proportion since the recession ended in June 2009.

Unemployment Rate Falls in 29 States

Unemployment rates fell in most states in February and two-thirds of the states reported job gains, evidence that most of the country is benefiting from slow but steady improvement in the job market.Unemployment rates dropped in 29 states, rose in 10 and were unchanged in the remaining 11, the Labor Department said Friday. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 33 states and fell in 17.

The rate declines occurred even though unemployment rose nationwide last month, to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent in January. That increase occurred partly for a good reason: more Americans began looking for work, though most weren't immediately hired. But the fact that they started looking suggests they were optimistic about their prospects.

Employers added 175,000 jobs nationwide in February, close to the average monthly gains of the past two years. Those gains followed two meager months of hiring. Employers added only 129,000 jobs in January and just 84,000 in December. Harsh winter weather likely dragged on job gains in those months.

The biggest drop in unemployment occurred in South Carolina, where the rate fell to 5.7 percent from 6.4 percent. Ohio reported the next biggest decline, to 6.5 percent from 6.9 percent.

South Carolina actually lost jobs last month, so the big drop in its unemployment rate partly occurred because many of the unemployed stopped looking for work. The number of unemployed people in the state fell sharply. The government doesn't count those out of work as unemployed unless they are actively searching.

Rhode Island reported the highest unemployment rate, at 9 percent, followed by Illinois at 8.7 percent and California with 8 percent. North Dakota had the lowest rate, 2.6 percent, followed by South Dakota and Nebraska at 3.6 percent each.

Mississippi Governor to Mull Marijuana Oil Proposal

Mississippi lawmakers are sending Gov. Phil Bryant a bill that would legalize a marijuana oil to be used as medicine under tightly controlled circumstances.

"The governor will review it closely when it reaches his desk," Bryant spokeswoman Nicole Webb said Friday after the bill won final approval in the House and Senate.

Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, said a family in his district has an almost 2-year-old daughter with Dravet syndrome, a form of pediatric epilepsy, and the oil can help reduce the number of seizures. He said he has been told by academic experts and officials at the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics the oil does not produce a high.

Arkansas Unemployment Drops to 7.1 Percent

Officials say Arkansas' unemployment rate dipped to 7.1 percent in February.

Arkansas Department of Workforce Services spokeswoman Becky Heflin says the state's unemployment rate has been steadily dropping since last October. Heflin says employment has increased while the number of unemployed people continues to drop.

Arkansas' rate is down from January's rate of 7.3 percent.

Seven major industry sectors showed gains in February with the government sector posting the highest increase. The Department of Workforce Services says the 5,100 jobs added in the government sector primarily came as public schools and universities returned to full capacity after the holiday break.

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108