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VOL. 131 | NO. 148 | Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Sound of Dominoes, Brexit Anxiety and Schilling Farms Backstory

By Bill Dries

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The Memphis Newspaper Guild makes it official – filing grievances against Gannett, the new owner of The Commercial Appeal, over the first significant changes in how the paper is put out. Those changes involve abolishing copy editing positions and making them part of the new job of digital producers.

Copy editing at the CA over a lot of years has been a set of very specialized positions.

The digital producers signals a formal shift of priorities to put on-line and digital reporting at the top of the list.

There is plenty of discussion about this being the first of several dominoes to fall marking a move of the mechanics of putting out the daily edition to distant centers where several Gannett newspapers are assembled -- places outside Memphis with Nashville and Jackson the most frequently speculated about.

There may be a budget season but it seems that anxiety about some part of the equation that results in budget plans for local government is a year-round phenomenon.

With the county budget finishing up Wednesday with a final vote scheduled on a stable county tax rate, we found three county leaders with lots to say about what happens next.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, County Trustee David Lenoir and County Commission Budget Committee chairman Van Turner talked about it on Behind The Headlines on WKNO.

Luttrell is still uncomfortable with using $8 million from county reserves to balance the budget that began with the fiscal year that started July 1 – some of it for recurring expenses including education.

Lenoir shares that concern.

And Turner says it shouldn’t become a habit. But he says there are probably some recurring expenses outside the Shelby County Schools system that could be cut. And Turner wonders aloud about why the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t require the back office positions the District Attorney General’s office requires to process police body camera footage.

Brexit anxiety in Memphis? It’s true. Just one factor of many that found its way into the Memphis Economic Indicator – our quarterly look at the overall state of the Memphis economy that draws from numerous sources. That includes a survey as well as information from Chandler Reports and coverage by The Daily News of events from April through June.

This is a very comprehensive mix of data and the anecdotal.

In Digest, three more Crosstown Concourse tenants pulls permits to start the build out of their spaces – Memphis Teacher Residency, Poplar Peak Foundation and Tech901.

Just above that in Digest, Latitude Management Real Estate Investors of Los Angeles sells two Memphis apartment complexes – Highland Chateau on Raleigh LaGrange north of Elmore Road and the Highland Hills apartments at 5959 Mount Moriah Road Extended at Hickory Hill Road.

In our Construction Emphasis:

Schilling Farms has momentum with Boyle finishing up a critical corner of the 443-acre complex.

The new land bridge to be built across the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks that have been a feature of the University of Memphis campus since before it was a college is an essential element in linking the main campus to the campus south of Southern Avenue.

Earlier this month, we told you about the three smaller pedestrian rail crossings between Patterson and Zach Curlin.

The land bridge is a $33 million project that will make the alumni mall, the green space south of the administration building, more of a focal point.

Interesting that the university’s long-range plan once upon a time was a push to Poplar Avenue to the north. In recent years, it is south and west to Highland.

Among the local casualties of the recession was The Enclave, larger homes on smaller lot infill in Germantown at Wolf River and Farmington Boulevards. Enter a group of four homebuilders and a developer who rescued The Enclave with an arrangement in which they together bought lots from the bank six years ago and then their individual companies built the houses.

The local and state health departments getting involved in finding patients from the SPT Dental Clinic on Lamar. The clinic was closed earlier this month and the license of dentist Alfred Brown suspended over complaints about sanitary conditions there.

The investigation of those complaints has prompted health officials to urge patients there to get tested for hepatitis B and C as well as HIV. This is 3,000 patients at this practice since 2007 that could be at risk.

No specific infections have been linked to SPT on Lamar. Health officials are still contacting patients but the practice also has incomplete records so some patients may be missed by the direct notification.


Verizon buys Yahoo and what it means for Yahoo users.

Other Reading:

Huffington Post on Al Gore’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. But Gore will not be attending the convention this week in Philadelphia.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the group the Strickland administration hired to recommend finalists for the job of Memphis Police Director.

The organization also has started a new Institute for Community-Police Relations.

And the new effort is one of two organizations that basketball superstar Michael Jordan made a contribution to -- $1 million each to the institute and to The Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP.

The Undefeated with Jordan’s statement.

Netflix has a new series on the transition from disco to hip-hop in the late 1970s. A lot of attention recently to dramatizing this era of American music culture. And it was a busy one to be sure.

So here is Esquire on “The Get Down” which starts airing in August. Some of you are still in mourning for “Vinyl”, covering roughly the same time period but with a view from the inside of the rock business as progressive rock and Southern rock were giving way to punk and new wave. It started with such great promise but devolved from there -- the series, not the era.

This is a fertile subject area – the stories behind the music – that switches to an earlier era, about 25 years earlier, in November when CMT debuts “Million Dollar Quartet” – the made-in-Memphis series built around the story of Sun Records.

Back to these times, Rolling Stone with highlights of the Newport Jazz Festival including Memphis’ own Julien Baker.

PROPERTY SALES 56 94 12,852
MORTGAGES 23 50 8,053
BUILDING PERMITS 285 422 30,356
BANKRUPTCIES 23 67 6,131