Last Word: Curry Todd, Crosstown Brewing and Cursive Comeback

By Bill Dries

A word at the top of Last Word about campaign signs and what happens to some of them during a campaign.

There are a couple of sayings – bits of political wisdom by the judgment of some – that are uttered numerous times during every election season.

One is: “The only poll that counts is the one on election day.” This is said by a candidate who either can’t afford polling or has done polling and there is no way for him or her to spin it in their favor.

The other that is relevant to our purposes is “Signs don’t vote.” This is the de rigueur reply to anyone who notes that a rival candidate sure does have a lot of signs up.

Signs don’t vote but they get vandalized and torn down. They get put up – big plywood ones with sandbags at the base – in the front yards of homeowners who go on vacation anywhere near election day if the home is on a major thoroughfare or a really good corner for traffic. They get put up where they aren’t supposed to be – median strips and other public rights of way and get taken down or destroyed or both.

All of this happens so often that you can spend an entire election season chasing nothing but reports of these kinds of shenanigans. And some candidates spend an election season obsessed with signs and what becomes of them.

That’s where the axiom “Signs Don’t Vote” is used to remind a reporter or candidate to remember what is important.

Usually no one is prosecuted for this.

That’s why what happened to state Representative Curry Todd Tuesday is different on several counts.

Todd, who faces a stiff challenge in Thursday’s Republican primaries, was arrested Tuesday by Sheriff’s deputies on a warrant sworn out against him for theft – specifically removing the campaign signs of a rival. And he was recorded doing that, which probably pushed this beyond the normal boundaries for sign complaints.

Todd has claimed that he had exclusive rights to put his campaign signs up on the property from the owner and that he also had the specific right along with that to remove signs of any competitors. But he didn't come in when Sheriff's office investigators wanted to talk this over with him as part of their investigation of the complaint.

This presumably will get sorted out some time after Thursday’s election results are tallied and another jail mug shot of Todd has had a wide circulation.

The other difference is who bailed Todd out of jail Tuesday. It was Mark Lovell, one of Todd’s challengers – the one whose campaign signs Todd was recorded removing.

Former Pennsylvania Senator and Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum in Jackson, Rossville and Collierville – in that order – Tuesday to campaign for Brian Kelsey in the 8th Congressional District Republican primary.

More on that coming up in our election day edition which goes up Wednesday afternoon on this very website.

During the Rossville stop, Santorum told us he expects Republicans will retain control of the U.S. House between Thursday’s primaries and the November general election. But Santorum said the politics of those Republicans once they reach Washington is just as important as retaining the majority.

The Congressional primary has become a prominent exhibit in defining what the coveted role of “outsider” means down the ballot from the Presidential race. And all six of the major contenders in the 8th primary have claimed it in some shape or form – usually as a central feature in the blizzard of television ads that make wall-to-wall TV news weather freak-outs over a few clouds look like a quick but subtle diversion.

There were some suggestions as construction began on Crosstown Concourse that this might happen. But Tuesday came confirmation which we broke that there will be a brewery as part of the development and it will be a new 7,000 square foot building with an open to the public tap room on the site by Crosstown Brewing Co.

First Tennessee Bank is making some real estate moves that include a new open floor plan at its iconic headquarter building Downtown at B.B. King Boulevard and Madison Avenue. There will also be a full-floor vacancy in the tower.

The bank is selling its 228,000 square foot building at 55 N. Danny Thomas Boulevard at Court Avenue. And it is renovating its Ops Building at 3451 Prescott Road for another open floor plan.

All together, this is a $62 million undertaking.

First came the $2.4 million settlement the University of Tennessee agreed to settle a lawsuit by eight women who said the Knoxville school was indifferent and hostile to assault complaints filed against athletes.

Now UT’s athletic director wants the institution to go beyond the settlement.

A lawsuit filed in Shelby County Chancery Court this week – the place where local government disputes and claims tend to go. This one seeks to undo limits on the autonomy of five countywide elected officials including the Shelby County Sheriff. And it could possible undo the term limits voters approved in 2008 along with the limits on salary petitions.

Here’s a recap of Monday’s County Commission meeting that was long on actions closing out the old fiscal year and opening the new one as well as setting the stage for discussions in the budget season to come next spring.

The newest Shelby County Judicial Commissioner is Shayla Purifoy who comes to the post from being an attorney at Memphis Area Legal Services.

Here is a 2013 profile Richard Alley did for us on Purifoy.

Further down in Digest is a sort of follow on a point made on Behind The Headlines during our interview of Bartlett Schools superintendent David Stephens and Germantown Schools superintendent Jason Manuel. There is a workshop next week for teachers on how to teach cursive handwriting.

The city famous for barbecue to the point of it becoming a stereotype has a diverse and varied culinary scene. We’ve talked about this before. Now it has a start toward a food underground of sorts with a new catering and consulting company called Paradox.

A different take on a scholarship program – this one the program at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Other Reading:

Per Deadline… There are plans to make a movie based on the 2011 documentary “Undefeated” the story of the Manassas High School football team that won an Academy Award. Not sure how you improve on this one.


U.S. consumer spending up in June.

Aetna calls off an expansion of its health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and this is becoming a trend.

Look at your phone and unlock it.