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VOL. 131 | NO. 23 | Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Post Caucus, Fincher's Exit, 1919 Handwriting and Your Rolodex

By Bill Dries

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That close (very little light between index finger and thumb) between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa Monday evening.
Both live to fight another day in another state—New Hampshire.
And because it is Iowa – they each get to declare victory as long as they don’t go into a lot of detail about the totals.
This is one of those cases where it is like horsehoes and hand grenades – close does count.

Hillary Clinton is a well-known political presence in Tennessee and in Memphis where she has campaigned in her current quest for the presidency as she did in 2008.
Bernie Sanders is much less well-known in one of the state’s two blue dots – the other being Nashville. And there are questions about whether his appeal outside the south will match his appeal in the south.

Cruz, Trump and Rubio in that order in the Iowa Republican caucuses.
Expect to see Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz between now and our Tennessee presidential primary in March. Rubio has the largest slate of delegates on the March ballot statewide. Cruz was here last summer at an Agricenter rally that was impressive given the short amount of time local organizers had to put it together.
Rubio was here last month for a fundraiser as well.

Iowa got upstaged Monday in Memphis with Cong. Stephen Fincher’s announcement that he would not be running for re-election in the August primaries.
Within just three hours there were five declared candidates in Shelby County for the Republican Congressional primary in the 8th Congressional District.

For those who may look at the Iowa caucuses and wonder why we can’t have that here – what seems like a Norman Rockwell setting where friends and neighbors don’t just vote and walk past each other but sit down together, talk and then cast their votes publicly...
Arkansas did this in 1984 and for a variety of reasons it didn’t work.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reviews the caucuses of 1984 and why the experiment happened in the first place.
The various states were jockeying to upset the order of the primaries and have themselves be the first in the nation.
So national Democratic party leaders had a compromise for Arkansas – hold a caucus. Party leaders in the state agreed.
I still remember vividly going to the caucuses at the Crittenden County Courthouse in Marion that day and encountering an uncharacteristically angry Sam Turner, an attorney and active Democrat.
Turner was beside himself after being locked out of the caucuses there.
There was no invoking Norman Rockwell-like images. Many of those who were as angry as Turner simply left early.
The problem was a very complex process in a very simple setting and a formula for translating caucus votes to delegates that no one was happy with. Perhaps those working for former Vice President Walter Mondale were the least unhappy because he won there.
But 1984 was the year of the first of Jesse Jackson’s two historic bids for the Democratic Presidential nomination. It was the year of “Run, Jesse, Run.” And in this tri-state area, Jackson was very popular. He would carry Shelby County for the first of two consecutive presidential primaries.

Four years later, Tennessee would be trying to improve its influence with the first Southern Super Tuesday. The 1988 contest featured then U.S. Senator Al Gore of Tennessee who notably got into the race late with a philosophy that Iowa and New Hampshire didn’t matter as much as the attention those contests got.
It was a bold declaration as well as risky. It was the last time Gore would say that as either running mate or presidential contender.

It was a busy political day Monday with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam wrapping up his State of the State address in Nashville at about the same time the caucuses were starting in Iowa. Haslam’s speech was in keeping with a short election-year legislative session. No new major proposals that would be contentious and delay the quest to get back to districts for re-election campaigns.

Haslam talked in general terms about the need to keep in place higher standards for student achievement without referring to legislative proposals and calls to abolish the state-run Achievement School District or freeze it where it is.
The new ASD superintendent Malika Anderson did talk specifically about the criticism on Behind The Headlines. She also dealt with the persistent criticism that the ASD takes money from conventional school districts.

A scene setter for Tuesday evening’s public meeting at the Brooks as part of the Overton Park traffic and parking study after a warmer than usual weekend in the park – we mean in terms of the weather. But I can see how you might think politically too.

In putting together our advancer on Tuesday’s Memphis City Council session, I came across the Office of Planning and Development staff report for the car lot proposed for Chelsea Avenue and Tunica Street in North Memphis.
The reports are a complete and thorough examination of a development or zoning case that is essential when developers are ready to get the necessary greenlights from local government but maybe not quite ready to talk.
They also offer a history of the property based on the available documents as far back as they go.
In the case of the proposed car lot, the staff report includes the original subdivision plat for South Hyde Park in January 1919. It’s page 6 of the 17-page staff report.
I’m also a really big fan of the ornate hand-writing that seemed to be a prerequisite for a clerk’s job here nearly a hundred years ago.

The latest phase of the renovated Memphis Pink Palace Museum debuted this past weekend. The planetarium is back but it’s a far cry from its now seemingly humble 1978 origins with a fire last year that changed some of the plans for its restoration.

Training for improvisation sounds like something that might be contradictory.
But a group called Playback Memphis is expanding its reach further into its audiences using improv as a way of addressing community issues. The group was involved in a unique exchange last year between Memphis Police and the Frayser group Lifeline to Success, which is a program for offenders and ex-convicts.

The head of MATA talks about “thinking outside the bus” – a phrase that some critics of the existing bus system are already interpreting as a step away from the bulk of MATA’s current ridership, which has no other means of transportation to work and elsewhere in the city.

Meanwhile, the University of Memphis has expanded its blue line shuttles to include stops at the Poplar Plaza Kroger and the East Memphis Target.

In the Memphis Real Estate Recap: more details on the Binghampton Save-A-Lot. ProLogis is the latest holder of industrial sites to sell off some of its portfolio and it sold to Exeter which also sold some of its portfolio last month. NexAir has been on a buying spree lately including a facility in Millington.

We end with a eulogy for a Rolodex from PRI.

If there is a square part of your desk surface that is just a shade brigher than the rest of the surface and some small cards with two indentations at the bottom stashed at the bottom of the deepest drawer in your desk, your secret is safe with us. And the location of what was once on your desk is your business. Because who knows, that Mondale campaign contact from the 1984 Arkansas caucuses is probably still at that number your have filed under M.

PROPERTY SALES 74 74 17,458
MORTGAGES 93 93 20,128
BUILDING PERMITS 126 126 36,072
BANKRUPTCIES 63 63 11,227