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VOL. 131 | NO. 43 | Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Election Day, Luttrell Makes It Six, And About "Executive Sessions"

By Bill Dries

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Can You Feel It? Tuesday is election day in Memphis and across the state in this presidential election year. And all indications are the turnout locally should be above the 24 percent mark we’ve been at in the last two presidential election years.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. And you vote at your election day precinct, the one in your neighborhood.

The drama this time around is among a Republican pack and that drama will continue beyond Tennessee. It will also move to other states.
Presidential primaries change not only the perspective of candidates but also of voters and observers of politics.
There is some evidence of a stop Trump movement that depends on Democrats crossing over to vote in the other primary in this open primary state.
But it’s difficult to gauge how successful that will be given the depth of campaigning by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the south where her rival, Bernie Sanders, appears to be putting up a minimal effort after getting crushed in South Carolina over the weekend.
We take a look at the attempt in the context of Trump’s own comments about bringing Democrats and independents into his fold as well as U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s long history of talking about a bigger tent for the Republican party in Tennessee.
It turns out none of these remarkably similar sounding points are really saying the same thing when you try to apply it to Tuesday’s primary.

We are live Tweeting local and state election returns @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, with web stories on the early vote totals and the final unofficial returns. It will be primarily Shelby County returns with regular updates on what the state looks like, courtesy of the Tennessee Secretary of State's office.
Expect the networks to call Tennessee close to if not at 7 p.m. Tuesday based on their exit polling.

On another political front, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell declared his political intentions out of town overnight. He’s in the 8th Congressional District Republican primary in August.
If you are keeping count, there are now six declared candidates in the Republican primary from Shelby County.

The Riverfront Development Corporation’s working group fielding proposals to redevelop and operate Mud Island River Park has narrowed its search to two of the four proposals.
They are RVC Outdoor Destination’s plan for the entire park which makes the most of the river scenery and environment with an emphasis on recreational activities. And there is Mansion Entertainment of Branson, Missouri which wants to run just the amphitheater.
Out of the running is another parkwide proposal by ML Professional Properties and Memphis Equity Brand Management, which wanted to build a 500-room resort spa hotel in the center of the park.

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson on our Behind The Headlines show on WKNO TV where he talked about the Achievement School District, I-Zone Schools, Crosstown High and closing more schools.

A few things to review before the Tuesday city council day begins at City Hall.
Late in the day Monday, we found out about a call the city is expected to make to get HUD to delay the relocation of tenants at the Warren and Tulane Apartments. HUD announced in February it was cutting off the HUD subsidies that the more than 300 families rely on to rent at the complexes.
The complexes, owned by Global Ministries Foundation, failed two federal inspections. The second one in January prompted HUD to pull its rent subsidies and effectively shut down the complexes that GMF has said it will put up for sale.

Our second council note is a recap of the Overton Park Greensward controversy that the council is to discuss Tuesday afternoon in executive session.

UPDATE: The council will consider a resolution sponsored by nine of the 13 council members that would give the zoo control of the greensward at the 1:45 pm executive session.

There is a lot of confusion, and rightly so, about whether a meeting called an executive session is open to the public. The name suggests it is not open.
It is open. The council’s executive session is a meeting of the group as a whole just before they go from their offices on City Hall’s fifth floor to council chambers on the ground floor where the voting meeting is held – the one that starts at 3:30 p.m.
The executive session is called the executive session because the name is a holdover from the days when the state had no open meetings law and could close any meeting at any time for any reason or no reason.
There weren't any other committee sessions -- just the executive session before the voting meeting until the early to mid-1980s.
These days, the executive session is an open meeting that does what it did in the pre-open meetings law days. It’s a place for council members to say they want to delay something or try to add something to the agenda. It’s also a place for briefings and discussions by the entire council that might not result in any action. It may be a review of some controversy or a presentation of a still-forming proposal from the administration. Sometimes groups outside city government ask to speak at it just to fill the council in on what their groups are doing.
There is a lot of speculation about whether some on the council will try to add an item to the agenda that, if approved, would alter the uneasy standoff in the park as mediation between the zoo and the conservancy is just starting.
There is nothing of that nature on the agenda for a vote.
We will see what happens and our Twitter coverage of the council @tdnpols will provide updates from the committee sessions.

If you drive down Poplar Avenue regularly, you know when you are in Laurelwood. Its streetscape has a way of changing in terms of businesses without changing dramatically because of anchors like the Sears store.
But the Sears store is closing and it looks like East Memphis is about to undergo some dramatic visual changes in the process.

New commercial real estate numbers for the Memphis area in 2015 show stability and some specific success stories.
Integra Realty Resources, a national appraisal and advisory firm, shows low-income tax credits are helping create more affordable housing in Memphis.
In particular the Legends Park apartments, where the old Dixie Homes public housing development once stood on Poplar Avenue between Ayers and Decatur, has been at 95 percent occupancy for the last three years.
The office sector picture – not as good with Memphis in the bottom 10 of markets nationwide in office transactions.
Class A in East Memphis is 96 percent occupied by Integra’s count and no vacancies larger than 5,000 square feet.

Also in the CRE world, John Trezevant of Trezevant Realty talks retail in the suburbs and Oxford.

Last year we reported on the Pugh family's move into the pest control business with Rosie's Pest Control. That's in addition to the family's flower business and its landscaping business and its courier service.
Co-owner Michael Pugh talked recently about marketing the business and how the marketing has grown the family business.

Get it? Grow the family business...

PROPERTY SALES 89 339 12,708
MORTGAGES 42 227 7,982
BUILDING PERMITS 171 518 29,639
BANKRUPTCIES 32 129 6,029