VOL. 131 | NO. 34 | Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Last Word: Tiger Turmoil, Choosing Hotels and Grasshopper In The Committee Room
By Bill Dries
When there is turmoil in the world of University of Memphis sports, it is almost impossible to hide and the turmoil inevitably surfaces toward a much faster end game than the city’s mercurial and lively politics. And then there is the period of mourning and regret -- unless the coach's name is John Calipari.
So consider these events all in the space of an overcast Tuesday afternoon.
University of Memphis cheerleaders in Overton Square and on Highland Avenue, near the campus, waving pompoms and signs urging Memphians on the drive home to support Tigers basketball.
Just before the rush hour, the university’s athletic department put out a statement that may have been intended to quell speculation about the future of Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner but which was so enigmatic that it probably did just the opposite.
You be the judge:
“We continue to receive inquiries concerning the future of Tiger basketball.
Tom Bowen, UofM Athletic Director, the athletic senior leadership team and the Office of the President will conduct a post-season review of the men’s basketball program, as is customary with all UofM sports teams.
We urge Tiger Nation to support this team through the end of the basketball season with special attention given to the final three home games at FedExForum.”
And late Tuesday evening, the Memphis Rebounders sent an email appeal urging a strong turnout for the Wednesday UCF game at FedExForum which is also on ESPN.
“If business or family obligations prevent you from attending, please give the tickets to family, friends or me,” wrote Harold Byrd of the Rebounders, “as we have multiple requests from many who can’t afford season tickets.”
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies make a trade.
On the minority business front, an interesting Memphis City Council discussion Tuesday evening over the need for another committee on the question. We also review a set of planning and development items as the council cleared a backlog of delayed items that had been hanging out on the agenda for since last year in one case.
That case was the hotel proposed across Front Street from the Pyramid.
The council delayed it for another two weeks Tuesday but with the delay comes word that there is an agreement by the hotel developers with St. Jude and the Greater Memphis Chamber that speaks to concerns about the need for an overall development plan in the Pinch.
Late last year, St. Jude announced its intention to expand into the Pinch with what amounts to $8 billion all told between construction and research facilities.
Speaking of hotels, more discussion about whether the proliferation of so many boutique or smaller hotel projects across the Downtown area are really a solution to the need for more hotel rooms to attract more conventions and meetings to the city.
The city has about $2 million to spend to get started toward what amounts to an infrastructure for the coming of police body cameras.
More interesting than the funding was Tuesday’s council committee discussion that didn’t yield a roll-out date for the cameras but did begin to sketch out some kind of framework.
However, the council was not impressed by a look at the video recorded in committee by one of the cameras two weeks ago.
Police Director Michael Rallings showed the video Tuesday in the same council committee room and council members immediately noticed the audio was inaudible.
“Audio is probably the least of our worries,” Rallings told the council.
On a less serious note, council members often join the full day of committee sessions at City Hall on the long council day as they are in progress. They can listen in their offices across the hall via an intercom system so they don’t miss what’s happening.
And when a council member enters a session late, it is customary for the chairman of a particular committee to note at the next available pause for the audio record of the meeting that council member fill-in-the-blank is present.
So when council member Philip Spinosa entered the committee room for the meeting of the public services, neighborhoods and libraries committee, chairwoman Janis Fullilove noted his presence by addressing him as “Mr. Grasshopper.”
It was a reference to Spinosa’s two months on the council compared to Fullilove’s eight years-and-running presence on the body. Grasshopper, Fullilove explained, is what the master called the student in the Kung Fu television series of the 1970s.
It's probably not the first time the nickname has been applied to a new council member by a veteran council member. And it is definitely one of the more civil names one council member has attached to another council member in the public arena.
The West Cancer Center is using a new treatment method for brain cancer called an Optune that is worn like a cap. It is an FDA-approved therapy with West looking to expand its use with clinical trials and studies.
From the Tennessee legislature: a challenge of a proposed limit on new liquor store retail licenses and a floor vote coming on refugee resettlement programs.
Nationally: a look globally from market to market at the economic risks and turbulence that are proving stubborn. It's called "The Big Uh-Oh."