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VOL. 131 | NO. 156 | Friday, August 5, 2016

Dries

Bill Dries

Last Word: Election Wrap Up, Crosstown's Momentum and GMF's Court Report

By Bill Dries

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For an election that only 14 percent of us turned out for, the Thursday elections in Shelby County delivered in terms of political drama.

David Kustoff, whose bid for Congress in the old 7th Congressional District 14 years ago ended in frustration amidst too many primary candidates from Shelby County, claimed the Republican primary in the 8th amidst an even larger field with even more Shelby County rivals.

I suspect the local group of five, among the major contenders, are probably just as unhappy with each other as the group in 2002 was -- at least on the day after the election.

We'll see if there is a unity press conference.

Here's the rundown on that and the other races along with a quick look at some of the other notes of interest across the state.

This was the first election for new Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips who had estimated a turnout of 90,000 incorporating a large "fudge factor" just to be safe.

That was about 10,000 too many. But the estimate was to gauge how many voting machines would be needed and where, so better too high than too low.

The major glitch was in the election returns on the Election Commission's website which did not show how many precincts were in. So a lot of us were flying blind about where the vote count was.

On to the Nov. 8 election and the campaign hills and dales between now and then. DEMOCRACY.

It’s been easy to feel the momentum of the Crosstown Concourse development just by driving past and seeing the construction work underway and maybe get a tour of the inside of what so many of us once knew as Sears Crosstown.

There is a different kind of momentum underway now as tenants beyond the partners emerge or as new plans by the partners are announced.

This week already we had seen plans surface for a brewery with a tap room in a new outparcel.

And on Thursday, there was word of a YMCA gym as part of the Church Health Center presence at Crosstown.

More on federal agents serving search warrants at the Global Ministries Foundation offices in Cordova Wednesday, which is a chance to dig into a very interesting report from about three weeks ago that didn’t get much attention at the time. It is the first report from the receiver appointed by Memphis federal court Judge Jon McCalla to oversee the Warren and Tulane apartments – two complexes owned by GMF that the receiver is preparing for sale.

The report in the court files as part of a lawsuit filed in May by Bank of New York is compelling.

The receiver’s employees got sick just working in the leasing offices at Tulane and Warren, which like the apartments were infested with bedbugs and had other problems. Tenants in both complexes are moving out in the wake of HUD’s decision in February to stop paying the rent subsidies that are what kept the apartments an ongoing enterprise. And the vacant units are being used to store drugs and guns. The receiver founds caches of both once the private security firm he hired said it was safe to go into the apartments. Employees at both complexes were repeatedly threatened by gang members, according to the receiver’s report. Private security set up what are described as “military checkpoints” at Tulane and Warren with ID required to enter.

Nevertheless ATF agents made it into the complex for reasons the receiver’s report says are still unclear and the security company didn’t know they were federal agents until the security firm demanded that they identify themselves – again, according to the report to the court.

For some time now, at least some of the medical mission at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been pointed toward post-chemo therapy medicine – treatments and cures that are a step beyond chemo therapy. We know now that in its infancy chemo therapy was a cure whose side effects were arguably worse than the cancer it cured. St. Jude’s research is now looking specifically at the long term health effects of such cures.

In a similar vein (must .... resist ... medical ... puns) students at the Southern College of Optometry are watching the latest surgery techniques -- Lasik eye surgery -- on their campus with a broadcast from medical offices in Collierville.

The cover story from Don Wade in our weekly, The Memphis News, is on the University of Memphis bid to be part of the Big 12 athletic conference. The PDF of the issue is already up on this website. With the hard copy to hit our racks around town Friday morning and the online version of the cover story going up Friday afternoon.

Don’s Press Box column has a few more thoughts about a non-Big 12 future for Tigers athletics.

Agricenter International President John Butler is our guest on Behind The Headlines on WKNO at 7 p.m. Friday. Our discussion goes a lot of places including the 30-year old institution and its relationship to Shelby Farms Park, precision agriculture and other technology, research underway at Agricenter and the nature of the family farm.

Other Reading:

Reuters on U.S. manufacturing’s recovery from “China Shock” – the move of manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. at the start of the century.

Jane Eskind has died. She was a major political figure in the state – one of only two women ever elected to statewide nonjudicial office. The other is state Senator Sara Kyle, who like Eskind was elected to the old Tennessee Public Service Commission.

Eskind was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1978, losing to incumbent Republican Howard Baker. She also ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1986.

But Eskind had a much longer political timeline as a backer of Democratic candidates and as a source of advice for candidates undertaking a statewide campaign in a state that spans two time zones and whose eastern reaches are closer to Canada than they are to Memphis.

Here is The Tennessean piece on Jane Eskind.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 52 151
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751
BANKRUPTCIES 37 157 618
BUSINESS LICENSES 12 77 276
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0