VOL. 131 | NO. 54 | Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Last Word: The Bloody Shirt of Deannexation, More Boats and The Rise of ioby
By Bill Dries
“Waving the bloody shirt” – get ready to hear that phrase a lot as a deannexation bill continues to be debated in Nashville – the one that the state House approved Monday evening.
There was a palpable frustration at City Hall during Tuesday’s council day that featured a light agenda but lots of attention to several challenges – many of them financial and hidden until recently – that the new mayor and council are facing.
As we mentioned in our Monday evening coverage of this, the skirmish lines over the deannexation bill and the larger issue are very close in Shelby County. Our legislative delegation is split between Memphis Democrats vocal in their outrage over the bill and Republicans in the county outside Memphis who are just as vehement in their support of the bill, especially the parts that apply to Memphis.
Here’s a rundown of where those challenges, including the deannexation bill, are at this point.
Elsewhere in the state capital, Gov. Bill Haslam talks about local hikes in the gas tax as time is running out in the Legislature for a run at a state gas tax hike.
One of the other discussions at City Hall Tuesday was about the prospects for minority firms to get a piece of any contracts for a new public safety radio system in Shelby County – a mammoth undertaking from issuing new radios to building new towers that could be a $60 million undertaking.
That was the day after the council-formed task force on minority business had its inaugural session. The task force is another voice pointed at what tax breaks for economic development should require of companies when it comes to business to business contracts with minority owned businesses.
The overnight riverboat cruise business is back in a big way and the result is a Beale Street Landing that is paying for itself and more even with its inflated $43 million cost that was also far from on time in its timeline.
And that is how we got a story this week about contingency plans to add more docking space at the landing for more of the cruise boats that can carry up to several hundred passengers.
Riverfront Development Corp. President Benny Lendermon tells us those plans won’t move until or unless more boats are built and the RDC is not seeking any city money.
There are now several offers by private groups to buy the more than a century old police headquarters building at Second and Adams Downtown. All three offers are for boutique hotels to open in a renovated building. And there could be more proposals for the building by the time the council settles the matter next month.
A smaller dollar tally of the fundraising work Memphis groups are doing through ioby these days and the scale is intentionally smaller with more modest and thus quickly do-able goals that go toward specific projects in neighborhoods with plans completed and ready for funding.
Remember when Memphis International Airport was the subject of several competing presences on social media. There were the airport accounts with messages about supporting the Delta Air Lines hub at the airport. And there was the critical “Delta Does Memphis” presence.
Now the Convention and Visitors Bureau-backed “I Love Memphis” brand is casting a broader net to take in the airport. It’s a leading edge of a larger effort to go digital with promotions of the airport.
If you have seen the movie “Spotlight” about the Boston Globe’s investigation of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, you may have noticed an epilogue just before the closing credits that lists other cities where there were similar disclosures of such abuse by priests.
One of those cities listed is Memphis.
And it probably wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for the decision by the management of this newspaper to intervene in a Shelby County Circuit Court lawsuit. The intervention in the lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis and the Dominican religious order – formally known as the Order of Preachers – came after both defendants settled the case stemming from Father Juan Carlos Duran’s sexual abuse of a teenager.
The plaintiffs sought evidence of a pattern of conduct over many years to hide the abuse.
And the more than 6,000 pages of documents including depositions and Diocesan internal documents showed just that we found when our motion was granted and we got the paperwork.
That’s about as far as I’ll go in heralding what our management did in this case because there is a larger point.
And it’s made in a guest column by Deborah Fisher of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government which also gets into the still forming body of law that will govern what you can see from police body cameras and when you can see it.
Tech Sector: How much of Google’s traffic is encrypted? And a step back for robot cars.
Medical Sector: Some new Centers for Disease Control guidelines on prescribing painkillers.