VOL. 131 | NO. 14 | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Last Word: Time and The Greensward, Crosstown High and Race and Sports
By Bill Dries
Remember how the schools merger story of about five years ago would change by the hour at times? That story has met its equal in what is becoming the first major challenge of the new Strickland administration at City Hall – the Overton Park Greensward.
So much happened before noon Tuesday on the first day of the short work week that it required waiting for the dust to settle on several fronts.
Here is the latest on a very fluid and volatile situation that could very well change as you are reading this.
Luckily we report at a time when you can change stories on line to keep up with such changes.
Zoos and parks and protests featuring brass bands suggest to a casual observer that this is not very serious as controversies go.
And maybe that was the case about a year and a half ago when a group of high school students decided to block the gravel driveway from the zoo parking lot onto the greensward.
But consider this:
The Memphis Zoo is working toward a March 1 opening of its new exhibit, Zambezi River Hippo Camp, a $22-million attraction that from what we saw just a few months ago will likely draw big crowds to the zoo in the spring.
The zoo was preparing for that starting with the removal of 27 trees from the north end of the greensward.
The best Mayor Jim Strickland could get from both sides – the zoo and Overton Park Conservancy – at his meeting with them Tuesday was a commitment to take his proposal for mediation to their respective boards.
The zoo board has authorized its leaders to file a lawsuit in Chancery Court over the greensward and it’s very likely the zoo would go to court before the March 1 opening because of the crowds on their way.
If the work to come by the zoo in advance of the March 1 opening involves heavy machinery, the reaction is likely to draw a much bigger protest than the ones Memphis Police have so far watched from a distance without making arrests.
As in all pressing political dramas, this controversy has the accelerant of timing.
Did someone say politics?
Speaking of that, Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio was in the city Tuesday evening for a fundraiser – something all of the contenders are doing not just for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries but for the primary contest beyond that. That includes our very own March 1 Tennessee presidential primaries.
Rubio’s fundraiser, one of five on his schedule, was closed to the press.
But it reportedly drew solid attendance. Rubio’s slate of convention delegates on the March 1 Tennessee Republican primary ballot is the largest of any Republican contender at 28.
As it turns out, Rubio arrived in the city on a busy evening.
Shelby County Schools board members were getting their first look at what an agreement to start a Crosstown High School could look like. This is a story we broke last year.
As hinted at the time, it is a partnership with Christian Brothers University.
As that was going on, the Shelby County Election Commission got a short list of three finalists for the job of Shelby County Elections Administrator, replacing Richard Holden, who retired earlier this month.
The three finalists recommended by a search committee are all from outside the current Election Commission staff.
Linda Phillips is a former property assessor in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
Scott Daisher of Warren. Ohio is an election ballot programmer.
Tammy Smith is assistant administrator of elections in Wilson County, Tn.
A total of 44 people applied for the job
Jalen Rose had quite a bit to say at the National Civil Rights Museum’s forum on race and sports during the King Day weekend – about what he sees as a double standard for athletes in “black sports” and “white sports.”
The forum, sponsored by the Memphis Grizzlies as well, covered a lot of ground that doesn’t get covered much during post-game interviews.
Elsewhere in our city on the King Day weekend.
That’s not to say significant things aren’t said after a game. They just focus on the game just played and the next one coming up.
The CEO of First Horizon talks about 2015 during an earnings call Tuesday.
Meanwhile, some nervous CEOs gathering in Davos for the world view of the economy while homebuilder confidence stateside stays steady.
You know FedEx and you know UPS. Rival DHL is stepping up its Memphis game with a new service center.
Medical examiners testify in lots of trials. It’s a crucial part of a murder trial – establishing how someone died. And The Tennessee Supreme Court has settled the question for our state court system about what happens when the medical examiner who performed the autopsy is not available to testify.
The principle involved in the ruling is the right of a defendant to face his or her accusers.
How quick will the Tennessee legislature’s 2016 session be? So quick that the Shelby County Commission is meeting in special session Wednesday to approve their wish list for the legislature. That’s because the legislature has moved up the deadline for filing bills to Thursday. It’s usually in February.