VOL. 131 | NO. 258 | Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Last Word: Liberty Bowl Memories, Talk About Violence and The Year In Ed & Med
By Bill Dries
Grizz fall to the Celtics in Boston Tuesday 113-103. With Mike Conley and five other starters out. Away from triple digits, it is SMU over the Tigers at the Forum Tuesday 58-54.
The Tigers next play South Carolina Friday at the Forum. The Grizz are at the Forum Thursday against the Thunder.
We are in that week between Christmas and New Year’s when you see tour buses being escorted from one part of town to another. That can only mean the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, which is this Friday. The pre-game events Tuesday for the fine folks from Georgia and TCU included a rodeo at the Agricenter Show Place Arena. The players and coaches luncheon is Wednesday at the Hilton and Thursday afternoon is the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Parade on Beale Street followed by a pep rally for both teams in the district and then a gala dinner and dance a block away at the Peabody.
This is the 58th Liberty Bowl football classic which began in Philadelphia at Municipal Stadium with Bear Bryant’s very first of 24 consecutive bowl trips – four at the Liberty Bowl including his last game in 1982. The bowl moved to Atlantic City before Bud Dudley brought it to the newly-built Memorial Stadium here in Memphis in 1965.
The pre-game events have changed some over the years. I remember the boxing card in the Coliseum that featured Evander Holeyfield as a spectator.
And more recently there was the legend of just how good the Peabody deserts are when two players on the same team got into a fight during the luncheon when one ate his own desert and the desert of one of his teammates.
The bowl has seen what may be the most unorthodox marching band in collegiate history and also one of the rowdiest. Stanford’s band was part of the Beale Street parade as well, fitting right in the spirit of the street with a band that was built around brass and whose drums were led by the brass instead of the other way around. They didn’t march. They didn’t sway. They did cluster together at some points but otherwise did their own thing. They were also pretty relentless when it came to kidding East Carolina about being the 51st state in the Union. Nevertheless, it was East Carolina that won the 1995 Liberty Bowl 19-13.
About a month before he took the oath of office as Vice President, Spiro Agnew attended the 1968 Liberty Bowl between Ole Miss and Virginia Tech (Ole Miss 34 – Virginia Tech 17). Agnew famously ran afoul of the elevator operator at the Liberty Bowl for not having the proper credentials.
The end of 2016 is rapidly becoming another peak in our ongoing debate and discussion about violence in our city as well as other cities across the country. The weekend incidents at the Oak Court and Wolfchase Galleria malls in Memphis and the subsequent videos are minor compared to the horrendous homicide count in Chicago.
And there is a necessary place in this discussion for perspective as well as whether social media postings of lots of incidents, most not involving any kind of gunfire, should become news stories.
But it is also valid to talk about why these incidents continue to happen because fear of violence and crime is a very real part of this problem. It informs what will come next in terms of responses from local and state governments – whose primary responsibilities are safety and welfare.
Memphis is getting a version of Operation Ceasefire in 2017, as we reported Tuesday. It’s something tried before in the city on a limited basis with the Drug Market Intervention program of 2010.
And on New Year’s Eve the issue of violence is expected to take center stage when Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland holds a New Year’s Eve prayer breakfast in Whitehaven.
Strickland and former council member Myron Lowery, who has held his own New Year’s prayer breakfast for the past 25 years, are each holding their events on New Year’s Eve this year because New Year’s Day is on a Sunday.
Strickland’s event will feature former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton who is expected to have something to say about the way forward on violence in the city.
Once you sit down at the end of a year to start writing up what happened on a particular issue or topic, you get an idea of how eventful the year has been.
And I’m finding 2016 was a very eventful year if complexity is your barometer for that.
And for several years now – probably the last six – few areas locally have been more complex than education. We look at the landscape for higher education as well as k-12.
Where to begin with healthcare in Memphis – a sector that is in the midst of not only a leadership change but also a sea change in what the various hospitals do. In some ways calling these institutions hospitals doesn’t seem adequate.
The best way to judge the comeback of the Memphis economy was in real estate where there was so much going on this year that we had to break our review into two pieces with the residential real estate running in the Monday edition.
There was commercial real estate with 6 million square feet of net absorption in industrial, which is down from 8.4 million in 2015, but still a phenomenal number. It was the year ServiceMaster announced it was moving its HQ to Peabody Place and Boyle Investment announced the first spec office space in quite a while in Ridgeway Center. TraVure in Germantown is being anchored by the new HQ of MAA which moves just a few blocks down Poplar to the new site. North Mississippi into Fayette County is thriving as is Schilling Farms in Collierville, which is the new home for Helena Chemical.
You will be able to get all of this coverage together in our weekly, The Memphis News, which hits Friday with a story that also offers a roundup of what to look for in 2017.
In Cleveland, Tenn., Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis is threatening to round up and cut off the county credit cards. This follows a critical report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office which found half the county’s credit card transactions in 2015 lacked any signing on the dotted line and in some cases no receipt at all. And they were used in town instead of on travel. That’s 240 out of 430 times the credit cards were used.
Hacked and making insider trades. The story of the hacked law firms and the three Chinese nationals accused by the Feds of the scheme.
U.S. consumer confidence at a 15-year high.