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VOL. 131 | NO. 65 | Thursday, March 31, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Curtain Falls in Nashville, Political Cuneiform and Ramsey Talks

By Bill Dries

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And in less than a half hour Wednesday, the de-annexation drama that should qualify as the political equivalent of a Netflix binge-watchable television series made just for Memphis was done.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “summer study committee” – it means in its most polite and hopeful interpretation: “This isn’t over and the issue will be back, just not this session.”
In other less hopeful translations it means: “Stick a fork in it. It’s done.”

This is more of the former than the latter. But the new de-annexation proposal that seems certain to emerge from the summer study committee starts all over in the legislative process after having won a House floor vote earlier this month.
Here’s more on the sharp parliamentary turn the bill took in the state Senate’s state and local government committee.
Nobody from Memphis who spent the week on Capitol Hill is celebrating a victory. But there was plenty of talk Wednesday about a more animated, visible and sustainable presence by the city in the land of the committee chairmen from rural towns and the home of the almighty vote count.

Did someone say politics? We are a week away from the April 7 filing deadline in the Aug.4 state and federal primary elections.
We take a look at the late-forming races.

A side note here to let you know that you should seek out the Shelby County Election Commission’s list of 80 qualifying petitions pulled so far with 29 of them filed to run for the offices on tap for Aug. 4. Source material is the mother’s milk of political engagement. Some people think cash or money is the mother’s milk of that. To each his own.
But if you do seek out the source material, you will encounter the most unreadable fine print since cuneiform was the script of the scribes.
I know what you are thinking – another old guy from Frayser who is oblivious to the aging process he is undergoing, and a reporter at that.
So, I printed out the listing from www.shelbyvote.com and took it to my colleague and top-notch real estate reporter Madeline Faber to see if she could make it out. She couldn’t and I won’t talk about her age. I will just leave you with this. I have notes from things I’ve covered that are older than she is.

That’s one problem. Finding the place where the list is on the election commission website isn’t quite a state secret. It’s more along the lines of an Easter Egg in a movie on DVD.

Rant over. The shorthand on the major developments a week from the filing deadline is Steve Basar is out of the crowded 8th Congressional District Republican primary, Mark Luttrell has picked up his qualifying petition in the same race and 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen is possibly going to have the easiest Democratic primary he’s had since claiming the Congressional seat in 2006.

The best profile of departing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that you will read is right here in Sam Stockard’s View from the Hill column.
Ramsey has been more than the Speaker of the Senate, the position he has always given higher billing than Lt. Governor. He is the conservative political force who worked in a Democrat-controlled upper chamber to build a Republican majority and then super majority seat by seat.
And he’s done it with basic political skills that emphasize regular contact and reassurance essential when outsiders to an established political orthodoxy are trying to find a way in.
There are several inside political stories fleshed out in the story including the effort by Republicans to first get Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker John Wilder to switch parties and then ultimately to topple him. And Ramsey talks about the necessity of fudging polling numbers for anxious candidates.

The TennCare director who was the point of the Haslam administration’s spear on the drive to win passage of the Insure Tennessee Medicaid expansion is leaving the administration.
Darin Gordon
says his departure is not related to the Legislature’s crushing of the proposal without a vote by either chamber at the start of the 2015 session.

Lots of bus news recently. Here’s the rundown – get it? –of MATA route changes that take effect May 1. The set is about half the size of the original slate proposed by the Memphis Area Transit Authority in the fall.

You’ve probably seen the clips of Tony Allen Karaoke Night earlier this week. It was a fundraiser for the Juvenile Intervention and Faith-based Follow-up (JIFF) program. Don Wade talked with Allen about his juvenile years and with the woman who intervened in his life – his mother.

With spring comes another budget season on numerous local government fronts. Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson told his school board Tuesday that he and his staff have cut $50 million more from the school system’s budget and are still about $36 million in the red.

Lance Wiedower, the Daily Traveler, talks about the joys of poutine.

In the Memphis Real Estate Recap: The Southaven Chamber of Commerce moves out of City Hall to its own building on Stateline Road and the new Cummins Inc. Distribution Center on Challenge Drive is being prepared.

Other reading:

We all know the places in the city where it’s obvious the interstate system or a major road interrupted and changed the trajectory of a neighborhood – in some cases ended the life of the neighborhood.
Small churches next to interstate walls. Hilltops with homes dramatically sliced away and the edge fenced on both sides of the cavernous interstate below.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is now talking about ways to bring back those areas that in many cases were modest to poor neighborhoods.
This Washington Post piece kicks off what should be a lively discussion that Foxx, who has been to Memphis before, would do well to bring to our city.
The discussion here would be a different one given the legacy of the proposed Interstate 40 route that was to go through Midtown before it was stopped by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The corridor where homes were demolished west of Overton Park in anticipation of an interstate that never came has since been redeveloped. And part of the corridor cleared east of Overton Park is just now being targeted for possible redevelopment.
It’s a process that has taken decades.
Yet the way back can seem much longer for those remnants of once larger neighborhoods that are left intact but nowhere near as vital as they once were.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047