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VOL. 131 | NO. 60 | Thursday, March 24, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The De-Annexation Express, Return of The Curb Market and Different Fuel

By Bill Dries

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When time ran out Wednesday on the state Senate’s state and local government committee in Nashville, de-annexation legislation was still on the tracks as the Tennessee Legislature draws closer to adjournment for the year.

But there was a major amendment that makes the Senate version very different from the House version. The Senate version would make de-annexation referendums a possibility in any community in the state, not just the five cities targeted in the House version.
The Greater Memphis Chamber, lobbying hard to defeat deannexation, marshalled business leaders including AutoZone founder Pitt Hyde before the committee and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was joined by the mayors of Chattanooga and Knoxville.
It didn’t seem to change any minds on the nine-member panel on the basic proposition at least for now.

In his View from the Hill column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard has the ultimate primer on the de-annexation controversy, all sides.
That includes a difference among some Memphis Democrats in our county’s delegation to Nashville about tactics. Some argue for a subtler approach. Others argue that the time for subtlety is long gone.
He talked with Strickland before Strickland’s appearance Wednesday before a state Senate committee on the hill.
And he talks with House sponsor Mike Carter of Ooltewah, a long-time advocate of ending annexation by referendum and instituting deannexation referendums.

Dramatic developments Wednesday as Fred’s Inc. of Memphis announced some disappointing earnings figures.
The company’s board chairman announced his resignation effective April 15.

If you mourn the Cooper Street Easy Way in Midtown, you may have seen the remake of the store’s exterior with a familiar name to long-time Memphians if a bit out of place.
Some of you have been checking out the storefront waiting for it to open.
Well, the Curb Market opens Friday at the former Easy Way location.
The Curb Market was the Crosstown collection of shops and delis on Cleveland north of Poplar Avenue.
It’s been incorporated as the brand of the new market featuring locally sourced food that is owned by Peter Schutt, who is the owner of The Daily News Publishing Co.

Back to the Legislature.

The de-annexation bill has cast a very long shadow in which some other end of session goals are moving steadily. One of them is a drive to at least lower if not get rid of the $450 fee the state imposes for someone convicted of a single non-violent offense to get their criminal record expunged, provided they haven’t been in any trouble for five years after their conviction.
There are two expungement fee funds financed through private donations that are being built as we speak.
And there is a bill to reduce the expungement fee by $100.
Meanwhile, the Legislature will continue to explore whether it really costs $450, or $350 with this legislation, to erase a criminal record that is a single incident.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s office has just started a three-year study of that very point, according to Democratic state Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis.
Akbari confirms this is the highest court fee imposed in Shelby County’s criminal justice system.

And what happened Wednesday when a legislator brought an AR-15 rifle to a House subcommittee debate on background checks for all gun purchases in the state.

Plus, here’s more on the Insure Tennessee billboards you have probably seen around town recently. It’s part of an effort to get some kind of House vote on Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s compromise with federal officials to provide insurance for those not covered by health care insurance currently.

Back in Memphis, where Fuel Café is about to undergo some temporary changes at its Midtown base as Fuel caters the local production of the “Million Dollar Quarter” television series.

Meanwhile, on the Facebook grapevine seeing some indications the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Union Avenue where Dunlap dead ends is among the possible locations.
The 1920s-era building’s interior is too seldom scene but when it is, it is stunning.
Maybe 25 years ago, I was in the auditorium for an organ concert after the building’s pipe organ was restored.
Quite an experience and another world in a building many of us drive past every day without a thought.

Oak Hall expands to Nashville and further down in digest another Another Broken Egg.

More changes in the August 4 ballot here in Shelby County just two weeks from the filing deadline for candidates – you can add two races for municipal judge positions in Bartlett that were originally slated for the November ballot. Also a rundown of what the field in the state and federal primaries look like overall.
Most of the action in terms of filing will be in the next two weeks.

And Tupelo is getting commercial air service again.

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Sputnik Monroe Day if you are reading this on Thursday proper. If you are reading this on Wednesday, you can re-read it Thursday.
Just thrash around a little bit like someone just awakened you from a sleeper hold.
But no pulling hair and no going over the top rope. Make sure you tag your partner clean and leave the ring immediately. All masked tag teams will have a manager and they will only be referred to by their combined weights and from “parts unknown” even if it is parts unknown of Frayser.

PROPERTY SALES 73 147 18,012
MORTGAGES 89 184 20,749
BUILDING PERMITS 117 258 37,094
BANKRUPTCIES 55 114 11,540