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VOL. 131 | NO. 70 | Thursday, April 7, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Pro Day, Hardwood Patios in C-Y and Memphis' Contested Convention

By Bill Dries

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It was a windy Pro Day Wednesday at the University of Memphis for Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch. And if the wind wasn’t for you, you could watch Lynch work out for NFL teams and their representatives on the NFL network.
Don Wade was there to watch in person.

It’s not quite 300 pages, it’s complex, it’s technical and there are a lot of numbers – especially percentages.
And the disparity study of who gets who contracts with Shelby County government was released Wednesday, two weeks after Shelby County Commissioners got the report at the end of a meeting they closed to the public on the advice of their attorney.
The technical action the commission took in a special meeting Wednesday was to waive its attorney-client privilege.
The political action was more diffuse.
The study was county government’s initial response to a renewed call in 2014 for minority business growth in a city in which the racial minority nationally is the majority.
And there was some concern in that renewed call that government disparity studies would be used as an excuse – in all of their wonkish tedium and bureaucratic qualifications – to obscure action toward the manifestly evident disparity.
It is a legitimate concern because such studies have been precisely the rocks that previous efforts have run aground on.
So the study is here. Commissioners have it. We will see if it is a cover for inaction on the larger issue of private business to business spending with black-owned businesses.

The other d-word this spring is de-annexation. And there are some indications that the plan to bring together city and county elected leaders to work out some kind of voluntary de-annexation, specifically for Southwind and south Cordova won’t be easy.
The indications come from Memphis City Council members.

The focus on the de-annexation issue shifted almost immediately from Nashville once the words "summer study committee" were spoken in Senate committee signaling the death of the state legislation for this year and a restart from square one when a new bill is certain to be introduced next year.
Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard, in his View from the Hill column, reports the Bible is the new buzz word on Capitol Hill.

In Cooper-Young, it’s patio season. The patio at Café Ole has senior status among the outdoor dining options in the area. And it has a new hardwood floor. That’s right, a patio with a hardwood floor.
As the late-night television ads say – but wait there’s more. It’s a hardwood floor sent to Estonia for the treatment that makes it ideal for what was once an unthinkable use of prime hardwood.

A couple of Twitter reminders for Thursday.

On @memphisdaily, www.twitter.com/memphisdaily, Thursday afternoon, we will be covering The Daily News Health Care Seminar from the Brooks that is a discussion about the Medical District Collaborative, the coalition effort by the medical district’s eight institutions to create more housing and retail in the area and come up with a coordinated plan.

On @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, we will have updates before and after the noon deadline for candidates to file for the Aug. 4 election ballot that features state and federal primary elections.

On a related note, the Shelby County Election Commission could move to hire a new county elections administrator at a special meeting Friday at noon.

The annual Dunavant Awards that we sponsor is now set for May 11 and Spence Wilson of Kemmons Wilson Companies is the keynote speaker for the event.

Inventory is drudgery in any business. When the business is creativity, it must be a different kidn of difficult. That’s what EPIcenter, the entrepreneurship organization is attempting as it sets about measuring the artisan economy in Memphis. The goal is to make sure discussions about creativity in the city include all of the voices, including those whose nose is to the grindstone and who don’t have much of a chance to see the broader efforts underway as a result.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap includes more information on the recent sale of Southland Mall in foreclosure, the Central Station Malco, The Bluff on the Highland Strip and the new home for the Fairgrounds Grand Carousel at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

Politico on the last contested Republican convention done in an oral history style.
And now for the Memphis epilogue.
A year later, there was still bad blood between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford – Reagan didn’t get the party nomination and Ford did not get returned to the White House in 1976 and each blamed the other.
A year later, Young Republicans held their national meeting in Memphis, specifically at the Holiday Inn Rivermont.
Tennessee and notably Memphis had been a battleground in the 1976 primary campaign between Ford and Reagan.
The undercurrent at the YR convention was the beginning of Reagan’s successful bid for the party’s nomination and the Presidency in 1980. As it happened, Ford was also in Memphis at the time for what was then the Danny Thomas St. Jude Golf Classic.
And he wanted nothing to do with any kind of joint appearance at the Young Republicans’ gathering with Reagan.
The Memphis Young Republicans hosting the convention, which included attorney and future RNC member John Ryder as well as future Congressman and Governor Don Sundquist, thought it would be a great achievement for the Memphis gathering not to mention the fragile state of Republican unity in the first year of the Carter administration.
But Ford wouldn’t budge – until the former President notorious for hitting spectators with errant golf shots during his golf outings hit a hole-in-one during the golf tournament’s pro-am at Colonial Country Club.
Ryder and the other Memphis YRs seized the moment and came up with a plaque to award Ford at the YR gathering. And Ford accepted.
It probably helped that Reagan didn’t make an appearance at the convention until later although he was everything short of physically present in the crowd.
The convention selected Roger Stone as the new national leader of the Young Republicans in yet another contested convention – albeit on a smaller scale and for much smaller stakes. Rival contender Rich Evans had been a Reagan delegate at the 1976 convention.
Stone, who is in the Politico story and has had a long political life including his recent early stint in the Trump campaign, flew in a group of delegates to replace a state’s delegation that was supporting Evans.
There was also plenty of Watergate residue in the proceedings just three years after Richard Nixon's resignation with Stone’s role in some of the Nixon dirty tricks revelations coming into play. They included making contributions to Democratic presidential contenders in the name of fake organizations like the Young Socialists Alliance.

Last month’s fatal police shooting of Alexio Allen is still being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the investigation has hit a wall that is the still-standing state law that prohibits the TBI from saying anything about its investigation.
So after 15 days Memphis police have named the three police officers involved. But they won’t say which one shot Allen and referred that to the TBI. And the TBI will not say which officer shot Allen.

Fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling, according to the Tennessee Attorney General’s office.

Read 'em and weep.

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