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VOL. 131 | NO. 24 | Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Rallings Meets the Council, Million Dollar Auditions & A Pinch Plan Emerges

By Bill Dries

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His second day on the job, the new Memphis Police Director, Michael Rallings, met the Memphis City Council and discovered just what a huge issue police body cameras are – if he didn’t know that already.
His answers to some pointed questions about when police can turn off those cameras and why made this an uneven first encounter.
Council members told him they got an earful from constituents over the weekend in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Johnathan Bratcher in South Memphis. And some of the reaction they got was to reports that a police dispatcher ordered police trying out the body cameras to turn them off as they arrived at the scene of the shooting.
There are three cameras being tested. And one of the officers with them showed up after the shooting, according to police.
Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland still didn’t have a timetable for the roll-out of the cameras but did offer some specifics including hiring by the MPD of 10 new personnel to deal with the handling of what the camera records.
And Strickland’s intention is to pay for it out of the existing MPD budget.

That was part of a busy council day at City Hall that featured a council member leaking some word on the timing of a St. Jude-Bass Pro Shops plan for the Pinch that’s been mostly undercover since many of us in the media business began detecting some movement last year.
St. Jude dropped some big dollar figures -- $1 billion for construction and another $7 billion for facilities etc – but not a whole lot of details.
Council member Berlin Boyd says St. Jude and Bass Pro Shops are “on the same page” and about to go public with a plan Looney Ricks Kiss is drawing up.

Meanwhile, the council agenda got about 13 items shorter as council member Reid Hedgepeth made a point about a street in his district that has been without streetlights for a month. He delayed all 13 items on the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division fiscal consent agenda.

There is going to be a Million Dollar Quartet television series on CMT and, according to CMT, it will be made in Memphis – not New Orleans – I’m looking at you, ghost of “Memphis Beat”.
Auditions to come next week at Humes Preparatory Academy Middle School.
The Humes auditorium where Elvis Presley performed in a talent show during its days as a high school and his days as a high school student is about as 50s Memphis as you can get.
Elvis fans making the annual August pilgrimage to our city can’t wait to get inside.
And some of you were probably among the extras at the school in 1988 where some of the movie Great Balls of Fire was shot.
Million Dollar Quartet is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name featuring the music of the Sun Records foursome of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
This could go either way with Great Balls of Fire being the example of going the wrong way.
On the other hand there is the 1990 television series “Elvis” which was also titled “Good Rockin’ Tonight” that was a well done series built around Presley’s pre-RCA days with some really good actors playing his mother and father as well as Scotty Moore and Bill Black and some great writing that treated the group as an ensemble instead of Elvis and other dimly lit characters.
Alas “Good Rockin’ Tonight” only lasted one season.

Speaking of casting call – here’s a bit more about the rapidly forming field for the 8th Congressional District seat Stephen Fincher is giving up. It turns out to be a blend of several past Congressional contenders who ran before in this district as well as the old 7th Congressional district when the 7th ventured into Shelby County and Memphis has three members of Congress covering our turf.

In his state of the state address Monday evening, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam put in a plug for more mental health courts. There is one here already after several years of efforts to establish this kind of court alongside the drug and veterans courts.

Meanwhile, the voucher bill that looks to be a major event of this year’s short legislative session in Nashville is scheduled for a floor vote Monday in the state House. And the new majority whip in the house is Republican Timothy Hill of Blountville, replacing Jeremy Durham of Franklin who gave up the whip’s job, withdrew from the Republican caucus and then put himself on leave from the legislature in what must surely be regarded as the low point of the short election year session in Nashville.

First Tennessee settles with HUD on allegations of racial discrimination.

And the mayor of Nashville has taken away the credit cards of the Davidson County Election Commission and has ordered up an audit of the group.

Rehab and fitness training are for the dogs ... and cats as well – but probably mostly dogs.
There is a rehabilitation and physical therapy center in East Memphis for animals and the owner has a business plan based on the massive amounts of money we spend on over the counter medicines and vet care for our pets. Those expenses are usually at the end of a rapid run for the vet’s office after some kind of emergency.

As one business thrives, another closes up shop. Republic Coffee is ending its eight-year run next week on Walnut Grove.

We tip our top hat

PROPERTY SALES 97 224 3,301
MORTGAGES 48 140 2,240
BANKRUPTCIES 29 89 1,831