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VOL. 131 | NO. 145 | Thursday, July 21, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Return of the Balloon Note, SCS and Migrant Teens & Greensward Doubts

By Bill Dries

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One of the prime culprits in the housing bubble burst that played a role in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is back – the adjustable rate mortgage.

Numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc, show the number of such loans has spiked in the first half of this year and are the highest they’ve been since 2008, the year after the bubble burst nationally.

The 114 since January is nothing like the more than 4,000 in Shelby County in 2004 and again in 2005.

Shelby County Schools is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for violating the civil rights of migrant children and their parents.

The department’s Civil Rights office is only saying it is over “issues affecting English learners.”

But it follows a February complaint alleging the school system has been blocking teenagers from Central America from attending public high schools here.

The announcement follows an Associated Press investigation and an exclusive story in May by AP reporters Garance Burke and Adrian Sainz, of the AP’s Memphis office.

The story notes that the AP found 35 school districts in 14 states were school systems discouraged the students from enrolling in schools and pressured them into alternative programs.

A look into the method that went into the talks that resulted in the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy coming to an agreement on the Greensward ratified Tuesday by the Memphis City Council.

Council member Bill Morrison came at this with the premise that it was about creating new parking places in front of the zoo to replace the overflow parking the zoo would give up on the Greensward.

The zoo parks up to 600 cars on the Greensward. But Morrison said the zoo doesn’t need 600. The conservancy was willing to go with 415 and it means a haircut of sorts for the Greensward’s western edge north of the Doughboy.

It’s a done deal but it is not immune from criticism and some second thoughts. Most of the groups in the Overton Park Alliance endorsed the deal.

But Citizens to Preserve Overton Park is critical – pointing to the January 2019 target date as the latest date by which the agreement would end Greensward parking. And there is concern about who oversees enforcement of the terms.

OPC director Tina Sullivan addressed the “mixed feelings.”

“Where some see a painfully-long 2.5 year timeline, I’m seeing the end date of 30 plus years of Greensward parking. Where some see a loss of green space, I see protection of more green space than we’ve had in decades, plus reinforcement of our protection of the Old Forest, plus the acquisition of new green space in the southeast corner of the park. … I’m not naïve. More challenges lie ahead, but park supporters are more engaged, organized and motivated than ever.”

The rest of the council action from Tuesday in Digest as well as an expansion of Sugar Services in South Main.

The Black Lives Matter protests of nearly two weeks ago have now shifted to a full press by the Memphis Police Department to better explain their role to teenagers.

The MPD previewed this approach with City Council members Tuesday during committee discussions. And on Wednesday, police officers took it to BRIDGES. Later Wednesday there was a radio forum sponsored by Shelby County Schools featuring students and police officers.

So far, police are not talking about any changes in policies or training. The Community Outreach Program (COP) that is participating in these forums is saying police are misunderstood and that their motive is to protect.

The Bike Share program seeking to build a network of 60 bike rental stations around the city has a $60,000 grant from the Downtown Memphis Commission toward its capital campaign. The nonprofit group was seeking a $30,000 grant from the DMC Wednesday.

In a week, Bike Share rolls out demonstrations of the stations at different locations around the city. Times and places are listed in our story.

Former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism has emerged as a contender for the Democratic nomination for Shelby County Mayor. No need to check the August or November ballots. Yes, we are talking about the 2018 elections. And Chism is hardly the first politico to make known his plans for 2018.

We’ve got potential candidates for Tennessee Governor already lining things up. And David Lenoir and Terry Roland – the Trustee and County Commission Chairman, respectively – are in for the Republican primary contest for county mayor.

Back to the August 2016 ballot, through Tuesday, 5,796 Shelby County voters had cast early or absentee ballots. The turnout spiked Monday with the opening of the 21 satellite locations across Shelby County. Of the 5,796 early voters – 4,901 voted on Monday and Tuesday. Early voting runs through July 30. And it appears the “I Voted Today” stickers have officially made the transition here from round to taking the shape of the state of Tennessee.

Elsewhere politically, Sam Stockard on Capitol Hill’s Durham scandal in his View From The Hill column.

In The Memphis Real Estate Roundup: The bank that would be a hotel, the warehouse to become office space, an upgrade at The Village at Germantown and square footage numbers for the tenants at the new retail center where Cozymel’s used to be on Poplar.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173