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VOL. 131 | NO. 103 | Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Hot Seat, The Cohen-Rubio Letter and a New Historical Marker

By Bill Dries

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The hottest seat in a room of hot seats in city government can be being director of the Memphis Animal Shelter.

You wouldn’t think that from the job description, which seems pretty basic. Round up stray animals and put them up for adoption. But that’s being overly simplistic because it begs a lot of questions about how many animals and what happens if you run out of space.

The shelter has been a particularly hot seat in recent years.

And now the shelter has a new director who begins work next month.

Alexis Pugh begins the job with a start toward defining the shelter’s basic mission. But she has some long-term goals that could cool things down considerably if she can get beyond the basic mission.

Speaking of hot – Global Ministries Foundation is taking more heat for not only conditions at the federally-subsidized apartment complexes it owns but for the financial arrangements that got it into the apartment market in Memphis and other places.

On a related note, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis cosigned a letter Monday to leaders of two Congressional Committees with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Cohen supporting Rubio’s amendment that would allow HUD to respond quicker to contract violations and make available temporary housing for residents who are forced to move by conditions like those at the Warren and Tulane apartments here in Memphis.

Rubio and Cohen say Congressional action is necessary.

“The current system does not allow tenant protection vouchers to be available if the property is under review,” their letter reads. “Making relocation assistance available when there are clear risks to the residents’ health is a big step to making sure that if these situations arise, residents are not harmed.”

At Monday's Shelby County Commission meeting, a lot of discussion about disparity studies and school funding. And a controversy from City Hall unexpectedly showed up on the agenda in the form of a request for $2.8 million in county funding for the Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven. The owners of the mall are still looking for government funding for roof and HVAC repairs. And there are still questions about whether this is something government ought to be financing.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee met Monday with Republican presidential nominee apparent Donald Trump and then spent a lot of time talking about why this doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to be Trump’s running mate. But there is that word "necessarily" consider. Here’s Politico’s take on it.

Meanwhile, Corker -- the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, passed on an invitation to join President Obama on his trip to Asia this week.

Some of the same people and organizations who worked to get a Downtown marker in place for the 150th anniversary of the 1866 Memphis Massacre earlier this month are working on a marker in a much more remote location – the site of the May 1917 lynching of Ell Persons.

Around 100 people made their way behind a row of businesses on Summer Avenue over the weekend to mark 99 years to the day that a large crowd of 3,000 gathered nearby to watch and cheer as Persons was burned alive.

Baptist’s pediatric emergency department has had no problem finding its market. In fact, after opening last year it has grown more than expected. The expansion in response to that growth includes building out a pediatric intensive care unit.

Elsewhere in our health care emphasis:

An innovation accelerator is forming around medical devices like a new way for hospital professionals to determine whose call from their hospital room is an emergency and whose call is less urgent.

A Collierville sport medicine practice that isn’t all about surgery. It includes stem-cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

And changing outcomes in the blood and marrow transplant program at West Cancer Center.


Tribune rejects Gannett’s offer and that sets the stage for talks, which is where the hostile takeover attempt might become not so hostile.

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