Last Word: The First Surrogate, Parkside at Shelby Farms and Manilow Memories

By Bill Dries

Here they come, fresh from Iowa and New Hampshire – first the surrogates and in the next two weeks the Presidential contenders themselves.

The nation’s “first surrogate” – former President Bill Clinton is at Whitehaven High School Thursday evening to rally early voters in the heart of a large reliably Democratic middle class community.
And it is that voter base that was integral to Barack Obama carrying Shelby County in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary even as Hillary Clinton carried the state that year.
As mentioned here Tuesday, the local Bernie Sanders campaign opens its Memphis HQ over the weekend.
Hillary Clinton headquarters in Memphis and Nashville are on the way soon with the Nashville HQ opening Thursday as the former President is in Whitehaven and the candidate is preparing for another television debate Thursday in Milwaukee with Sanders.
And early voting opened Downtown Wednesday.
The first day's turnout Wednesday was 177 early and absentee voters. Combined with another 645 absentee votes cast before the early voting period, that makes 822 early or absentee votes.
Another Republican contender on the ballot in Tennessee is out of the race. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out the day after his dismal finish in New Hampshire. He did not have a slate of delegates on the ballot here.

For the last three months, the Land Use Control Board has had a general plan for apartments and mixed use retail and office space on the northern border of Shelby Farms Park.
A more detailed proposal for what is called Parkside at Shelby Farms goes to the Land Use Control Board Thursday morning. Our story has a detailed site plan proposed for Parkside that includes three nine-story apartment towers with the Shelby Farms Greenline that runs parallel to Mullins Station Road literally at the doorstep of the apartment buildings.
All of this would mean changes to Mullins Station Road and the intersections now governed by four-way stop signs.
And homeowners in the subdivisions north of the Greenline and Mullins Station have long been concerned about more multi-family in the area because of the impact on traffic as well as drainage. No need for those of you who have cut through the area to raise your hands -- you know who you are.
It will also be interesting to see where the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy comes down on this.

Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard in his View From the Hill column breaks down Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed increase in public education funding and why teachers are wary of it. It’s another chapter in a fascinating political backstory that continues to change public education to the core of its foundation in Tennessee. It began during the administration of Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and continued when Haslam took office in 2011.
If you’ve been reading us for any length of time, you know the Memphis chapter of this saga has chapters that were underway independent of what was happening in Nashville. The column goes into great detail on that part of the story so far and how the speaker of the Senate frames the voucher debate with a Memphis reference.

By the way, look for a House vote on the voucher bill Thursday morning in Nashville in what will be one of the most watched votes of this short election year session.

The latest changes to bus service proposed by the Memphis Area Transit Authority focus on Frayser and southeast Memphis with a departure from a past of changes that had been all cuts in services and routes. This set is cost neutral and not without critics who contend the changes saddle riders with too many transfers to up the frequency on some shorter routes.

The last in our series of profiles by Don Wade on the chiefs in the Strickland administration is city attorney and chief legal officer Bruce McMullen. McMullen chronicles how the pursuit of an NBA career led not to the pros but to the law and the challenges cities face in court in these times.

In the Memphis Real Estate Recap: Blair Tower sells, The Bump Studio leases up with Loeb, a southeast Memphis warehouse sells for $1.6 million, Fresenius prepares to move a dialysis clinic into a new Raleigh infill project and two Extra Space storage facilities change hands in a $3.7 million transaction.

The countywide view from Chandler Reports, the real estate information service that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co., shows a slow start in the new year for home sales. Cordova, Arlington and Lakeland were top of the ZIP code heap in sales. And the mortgage market locally in January saw a small dip with a prediction of an upward tick as winter turns to spring.

Nationally: Yellen talks about slowing interest rate hikes in the current global turmoil and federal budget figures for January show a surplus.

A lot of you Downtown early Wednesday evening on your way to the Barry Manilow show at the Forum.
If you are old enough to remember Manilow’s hits and to hesitate a bit at acknowledging that you know them and probably owned them on vinyl when they were new, you probably also don’t think of these moments as generational.
Generational moments, some of us have come to believe, are for the young – first experiences – not déjà vu moments that you compare to first encounters.
Nevertheless that’s what it felt like to me, from a distance since I didn’t go to the show. It’s like when The Monkees played the Mid-South Fair some 30 years after playing a sell-out show at the height of their fame at the Coliseum.
Maybe most people didn’t come to see The Monkees in 1967 with the same “I have to be there to judge this critical moment” intensity that you might have mustered for a Bob Dylan concert. But some in that 1967 crowd were just that intense.
Thirty years later, entirely different and a more fun vibe on stage and in the smaller and older crowd.
The discovery here is that the music isn’t just the music any more. It doesn’t have to just stand for something because it is surrounded by memories and people who have come and gone and come and stayed all wrapped up in a melody.
And maybe that’s the business model behind those old bands that find their way into the Beale Street Music Festival line up. You know, the acts that you loudly and noticeably complain about and then make sure you note the day they are playing and how many of the hip acts are playing in close proximity to that slot. That way you can claim you caught part of their set while you just happened to be walking by the stage.
To quote that former President of the United States Max Frost: “Just look around you’ll see. We’re the majority. Baby, we made it. We’re 52 percent. They write TV shows for us. … They design the clothes for us. … They play the songs we dig. … And we make big business big.”