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VOL. 131 | NO. 210 | Thursday, October 20, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Early Voting Lines, Bank Moves, and Death of the Hi-Tone Mural

By Bill Dries

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Dodgers vs. Cubs or Trump vs. Clinton on your Wednesday evening. – We live in a land of choices … and screen within a screen technology.

Before the playoff game and the last of the Presidential debates got rolling there were lines at several of the early voting locations across Shelby County Wednesday on the first day of the early voting period.

To be clear, this is not a complex or long ballot. There are some local races and ballot questions that will surprise some voters. But the lines are an admittedly early indicator that the most popular election cycle in our local politics by voter turnout might move from a majority of voters to a heavy turnout – early voting and election day.

As this is posted, we are still awaiting turnout numbers for the first day from the Shelby County Election Commission. Watch for that @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, and when we post it compare that to an opening day of early voting in the 2012 Presidential general election of 13,675 toward a total early vote turnout of 232,691 – including absentee. In the 2008 Presidential general election, the last without an incumbent President seeking re-election and perhaps a better comparison, the first day of early voting drew 18,237 toward a total of 254,362. All of the early voting sites across the county were up and running on the opening days in 2008 and 2012 and early voting began on a Wednesday in each of those elections. There were 21 early voting sites in 2012 and 19 in 2008.

Trustmark Centre in the Poplar Corridor sells for $14.5 million.

New hires in First Tennessee’s management including a leader for the bank’s new music industry banking group with Nashville roots and a structured equipment finance banking group that works in business aviation, construction, marine, rail and trucking finance.

Meanwhile, BancorpSouth extends its time frame for two merger deals until the end of the calendar year, the latest complication after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. lowered BancorpSouth’s Community Reinvestment Act rating to “needs to improve” from “satisfactory.”

In the Twitterverse Wednesday morning, @MLGW, the Twitter account of Memphis Light Gas and Water Division, got lit up starting at around 9 a.m. with a lengthy back and forth with @BlackMoses2015.

Black Moses, despite MLGW replying to each and every question or allegations he made, was not having any answer from the utility.

“Your attempts to dash the fire I’m setting are useless,” he replied at one point.

Black Moses then said he had his house converted from gas to electric and “magically, all of a sudden my electric rate goes up.”

MLGW: “Natural gas is far cheaper than electric. Not sure why you would switch.”

Black Moses: “If it’s natural, you shouldn't be regulating it in the 1st place.”

MLGW: “Natural gas is federally regulated. That’s not our call.”

When MLGW noted there are “plenty of green power options available,” Black Moses replied, “Oh, best believe I’m trying to cut you guys out of the picture … am working on alternative sources of power, leave you w/o a job.”

That was about the time others joined the conversation including Shawn Graham: “We can all agree that hot sauce is always best.”

MLGW: Agreed.

But about an hour in, Black Moses was suggesting “your name should be changed to Memphis Light Gas and Robbery.”

MLGW: “No thanks. Appreciate the suggestion, though.”

The old Hi-Tone mural on Poplar Avenue near Tucker – the one with a band of animals playing to a Midtown crowd of regulars including a dancing mummy beneath the cosmos -- is no more. Completely covered by the owners of the building by a mural of pink ribbons. Much rumbling on social media Wednesday about the impact of this on Midtown identity and similar matters.

The business owners, Sports Junction, point out this was not their decision but that of the property owner.

The reaction on this tends to reflect larger sentiments – sometimes conflicting – about murals in a city that in recent years can’t seem to get enough of them.

In the first pushback against years of the relentless downing of Memphis, any mural was part of the cause. Now, it seems not all murals are equal.

Sam Stockard on the Blue Cross Blue Shield “bombshell” in his View From The Hill column out of Nashville.

More on the Memphis City Council vote on Airbnb regulations.

And a deeper dive into the federal appeals court ruling that affirms the Beale Street sweep – the policy of clearing the street and sidewallks of the district at 3 a.m. on Saturdays that went on for eight years – even after Memphis Police denied it still existed – was unconstitutional. There is a specific standard, in fact a set of specific standards, for such a policy.

The new Sephora opens in Germantown’s Shops at Saddle Creek in about a week.

Rolling Stone’s profile of Kevin Durant, included here because it covers an area that has been much discussed during the NBA-National Civil Rights Museum forums that surround the league’s MLK game in January – it’s about what we expect of our athletes and how those expectations of their performance on the court are increasingly being questioned by a new generation of players. Durant specifically talks about growing up with nothing but the game being his existence from childhood and how that had to change. This past January, that cost specifically for NBA players was a major part of the discussion by the NCRM panel of athletes -current and retired.

There were some really good discussions along baseball lines at the National Civil Rights Museum when the Memphis Redbirds had an MLK game in April. And hopefully, the team will revive that soon if for no other reason than the value of these discussions about the intersection of sports with American society and politics.

The New York Times looks at how the National Civil Rights Museum and similar institutions in other cities are becoming an important reference point in the exploration of similar issues in the here and now.

United Way has a new program it is giving a try that first acknowledges nonprofits have their own red tape and bureaucracy that can send those seeking help from these agencies from place to place just like the adventures in red tape in government – different furniture but still one office to another. So the idea in the eight-week “Driving The Dream” effort is to put those seeking help from these agencies on a matrix that judges their level of self sufficiency.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, cosmologist, writer and television host booked for a Feb. 13 date at the Orpheum in a presentation titled “An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies.” Expect clips from recent and classic movies between Tyson talking about what movies get right and what they get wrong about science.

PROPERTY SALES 64 151 1,493
MORTGAGES 45 105 1,152
BUILDING PERMITS 201 410 3,466