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VOL. 131 | NO. 115 | Thursday, June 9, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Verdell Smith and Lifeline, Strickland's First 5 Months and Tennessine

By Bill Dries

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Lots of blue lights in Cordova Thursday evening as the Memphis Police Department remembers Officer Verdell Smith, who died in Saturday’s Downtown rampage in the line of duty. His funeral is Friday.

The respect for such sacrifice we intend to show when an officer dies in the line of duty is reflected in traditions like this.

Smith’s life, which most of us only learned of after his death, has so much that is vital to where so many of us want to see Memphis go.

The most cursory examination of his Facebook page shows a police officer who was dedicated to reclaiming young people others might declare lost, particularly at a time like this.

Smith’s path could very easily have gone that way. His brother is an imprisoned gang member that Smith talked about during a session with the Lifeline to Success program with ex-offenders that is preserved on YouTube.

In the clip, Smith talks about the men and women coming out of prison being able to relate to and with police officers and vice versa.

That return to society is what Lifeline works at and it is hard work. We watched the program evolve from a group of decidedly angry men, some just out of prison, trying to figure out a way into local government decisions about such programs to a bona fide success.

What we found in a 2013 cover story for our weekly, The Memphis News, was a very real and very dramatic struggle to change lives.

The reaction from City Hall this week is part of our first analysis of Jim Strickland’s time as mayor. It comes at the five-month mark, admittedly a very short amount of time even in politics where the measure of a “long time” is relative.

So with that made abundantly clear, we think it’s a good time to set some kind of baseline references and not draw too many hard conclusions.

The first budget season has to be considered a success and owes a lot, I think, to Strickland being a council member and former budget committee chairman. Have no doubt that the council and mayor will not always have a relationship this smooth. How the council and mayor handle that is what bears watching.

There was something I almost put in the piece that is probably more appropriate here.

Strickland got a pretty hard time from several television reporters at his Monday press conference on the rampage.

And it’s something we’ve seen early in Strickland’s tenure that he is addressing directly.

Some of the tension is a product of a particular brand of television news reporting that emphasizes repeatedly asking the same question over and over again no matter what the responses are. The question is usually, “What are you doing right now about (fill in the blank)?”

When another reporter tries to ask a different question, the reporters will add their same question to the end of the new question no matter what it is.

Strickland isn’t reacting angrily to the treatment. But he’s also not shy about talking about what he thinks is motivating the treatment.

“Every time I’ve talked about crime I’ve talked about recruiting and retaining officers,” he said Monday. “I’ve said that on your station multiple times. You just fail to recognize it now because you want an interesting story.”

A “stunning reversal of fortune” in Shelby County home sale numbers for May. That’s a good reversal by the numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information service that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. And bank sales of homes are starting to show a decline indicating an emergence from the most stubborn remnants of the national recession.

Meanwhile Chandler Reports’ May numbers on the mortgage market locally show it is up 26 percent. Rates good and more demand than there is housing stock.

View From The Hill looks at new efforts behind the Insure Tennessee expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap features the year’s largest multifamily sale by way of Collierville. Also the paperwork on the construction loan for Graceland West. Silicon Ranch buys 348 acres of land in Millington for the largest solar power facility in the state. And Old Dominion expands again.

An “Executive Women’s Day” program at Southwind ahead of Thursday’s start of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament. The forum featured the chief administrative officer of St. Jude ALSAC and the vice president of brand experience marketing at FedEx Services and an examination of work-life balance with some very different definitions of that balance.

A Japanese patent for a “BioSponge” invented at the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering -- Biomedical Engineering Department. The U of M Research Foundation holds the patent which goes with a U.S. patent already granted last year. The patent is licensed to Bionova Medical of Germantown. The Sentrex BioSponge MPD is Bionova’s flagship product.

This involves negative-pressure wound therapy which in general is a vacuum type dressing. It draws out fluid and increases blood flow.

So you’ve finally located a current, up-to-date periodic table of elements and proudly put it up on the wall of your den.

Then comes word that there are four newly discovered “superheavy” elements. Not to worry, because it will probably take a while to name them.

That day is coming.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s office informs us that the proposed name of one of the new elements is Tennessine.

It honors the research work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University in the discovery of what is, for now, element 117. It’s also known – at least until November – as Ununseptium.

The discovery of the halogen was verified in January. It’s considered a halogen because of its melting and boiling points.

A Scientific American article from May of 2014 has the whole back story of Tennessine and the key role it plays in perhaps confirming the “island of stability” theory.

The process began with the separation of ultra-pure Berkelium 294. That’s when things got serious.

You won’t need an updated periodic table for at least five months. That’s how long the comment period lasts. And then the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Inorganic Chemistry Division sends its final recommendation to the IUPAC council for final approval.


Hopefully this will be a trend and one day our research capabilities in Memphis will warrant such a naming – Memphium which was discovered during a separation process from Frayserine and Orange Mound – yes, Orange Mound does not need a suffix ending. As an element, it is right up there with Oxygen, Carbon and Boron.

Nationally: Your smartphone gets smarter. A preview of Google’s Project Tango before a Thursday debut by Lenovo.

Rolling Stone is out with a readers’ poll of the 10 best covers of a Bob Dylan song and Elvis Presley’s 1966 cover of “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” doesn’t make the top 10? Color me speechless. First, Elvis Presley covering Bob Dylan. Second, it’s one of the best things Elvis ever recorded in a career that changed popular culture – the voice, the lyrics are both there in abundance. Third, at the time Elvis covered the song Dylan had not committed a version to vinyl. He got the song from an Odetta cover.

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MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751