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VOL. 131 | NO. 88 | Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Budget-Mania, TNReady's Backstory and Slow Down Millenial Investors

By Bill Dries

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The Overton Park Greensward controversy moves back to City Hall Tuesday as the council talks over an ordinance that sets further in stone the council’s decision in March to give the Memphis Zoo control of two-thirds of the greensward.

The ordinance is a way of putting more pressure on the mediation process as the council and Mayor Jim Strickland remain firm that if the mediation doesn’t produce a comprehensive solution to the controversy by the end of June, Strickland will make a decision and that decision will probably be ratified by the council.

The mediation has produced two agreements to create on-street parking on the south side of North Parkway, which is three lanes now with no sidewalks from University east to East Parkway.

Strickland says the sidewalks will come but that the on-street parking won’t wait on them.

The other agreement is a reconfiguration of the zoo parking lot.

So, what’s left to talk about? It’s basically a parking garage or parking deck and who would pay for it as well as a parking area possibly in the city maintenance area and whether there should be some kind of tram or shuttle from there to the zoo and other park institutions.

The council doesn’t lack for other issues Tuesday as it gets into the line items of Strickland’s operating budget proposal.

And here’s a look at the basics of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s $1.16 billion county budget proposal. The county budget is different if for no other reason than it includes the budgets of county elected officials that are at least in theory if not practice independent of the mayor and his administration. Nevertheless, Luttrell has left out of his budget book about $8 million of what some of them want. The biggest development is the effect the county’s payment of its debt service is having as some of the sources going into reducing the debt are being channeled to other areas including schools. And yes, the budget does have something to say about the least popular county tax – the wheel tax.

A backstory is emerging on the failure of TNReady tests for the state’s school children in what was to be the baseline year for setting the new standards for student achievement. Some paperwork has surfaced that shows there were early signs Measurement Inc. wasn’t ready for what was to be an on-line only test. When it went to paper and pencil, MI – as it’s known – said it couldn’t ship that much paper in that short a time. The on-line problem was in February and the state’s goal became a May 10 deadline. The state pulled the plug at the end of April.

The question going forward becomes how much will the examination of what went wrong push back the timeline for a new testing contract.

The contract with Measurement Inc. was a $108 million agreement that the state had paid $1.5 million on, according to Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.

In our securities and investment emphasis, Waddell and Associates Inc. joins Focus Financial Partners which means Focus owns 50 percent of Waddell’s profitability. It’s what founder David Waddell calls a partial acquisition. Also a Q-and-A with Kevin Kimery of Morgan Stanley on millennials as investors.

There is a company that is taking on one of the challenges of small businesses. These are the businesses that arguably could show the most growth through social media. But where is the time to devote to the kind of continuing and ongoing presence and response on social media that will produce results?

One of the answers is LMCB Social, which manages the different platforms for small to medium-sized businesses.

International Paper buys a pulp business for about $2.2 billion. Further down in digest, details of a Fogelman Properties expansion in Atlanta.

More on Gannett's moves on Tribune newspapers just after settling in at the former Journal Media group newspapers including The Commercial Appeal. It's not friendly with Tribune executives questioning whether the Gannett bid for them is real.

Nationally: An Australian says he is the founder of Bitcoin.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396