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VOL. 131 | NO. 190 | Thursday, September 22, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: In Charlotte's Shadow, EDGE Action and Elvis TV Bio at Graceland

By Bill Dries

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The Memphis City Council’s final vote next month on pot decriminalization is shaping up to be about more than marijuana. The vote on the ordinance proposed by council member Berlin Boyd is the leading edge of a larger push for changes in the local criminal justice system, according to Boyd.

Boyd has talked more about a start toward that kind of change than he has about the mechanics of the pot ordinance. And before Tuesday’s second reading vote, Boyd said the reaction he’s encountered within the system includes some concern about what changes would do to the fees and fines generated by the way the system currently operates.

The final approval Tuesday of a similar ordinance by the Nashville Metro Council is an integral part in a chain of other formal actions that are a part of what shapes up to be a significant chapter in a long running story.

Also away from the corridors of power and the vote counts there is a new series of fatal police encounters – a familiar cycle of violence by now with different datelines – Charlotte most notably.

As the scenes from Charlotte’s disorder were broadcast Wednesday evening on CNN, Rev. William Barber, an NAACP national board member from North Carolina, referred to the cycle as “daily ongoing traumatic stress” disorder.

Nashville is also becoming a sort of companion to the longer running efforts toward changes in the system that have been underway in Memphis for several years. There is a new coaltion of groups who have not always been on the same side of other issues.

And the Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice plans to start with juvenile justice and sentencing changes in an effort aimed at legislative change.

SeaPort Airlines Inc. was among the smaller regional carriers that set up shop at Memphis International Airport after Delta dehubbed MEM. It provided flights between Memphis and three cities in Arkansas until Tuesday night when it shut down after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

EDGE approves a TIF – tax increment financing – district for Highland Strip that sends incremental property tax revenue generated in the general area to pay for streetscape improvements in an area thick with construction work on the private developments. The EDGE board also approved a $12 million PILOT package for the Presidents Island expansion of the manufacturing company W.M. Barr and Co. Inc. that means a $1.1 million property tax break for the company – city and county property taxes.

Weinstein Television, part of film producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein’s TWC, has a deal to do an 8-10 episode Elvis biopic at Graceland that will include a deep dive into the Graceland archives. Deadline broke the story Wednesday saying the series would be built around Dave Marsh’s 1980s era bio of Elvis Presley but will also include resources from the archives including personal journals. There is still a script to be written and no network is attached just yet.

More from FedEx on its conservative and understated approach to some of the new transportation technology – notably drones and automated vehicles. As is usually the case in the company’s earnings calls, founder Fred Smith’s responses to questions from analysts on such larger issues are the highlight.

“We look at the use of automation more as opportunity to improve the productivity of those types of experts within our system to make their job more comfortable and easy and above all, to increase safety,” Smith said. “We think this technology will evolve incrementally over time with a great emphasis on safety first.”

MIFA, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, sharpens its strategic plan with a chief operating officer and a move to a three year plan. Usually you hear about five year and 10 year plans. MIFA’s leader, Sally Jones Heinz, says MIFA has to be more flexible in serving the needs of the city’s poor and struggling in order to stay relevant.

Lots of attention this month to new statistics that show doctors in Tennessee wrote more than 7.8 million opioid prescriptions in Tennessee. That’s more prescriptions than there are people in Tennessee and that’s even though the number of prescriptions appears to be going down from earlier years. Some of the drop is because new state laws make it more difficult for addicts to doctor shop. There is also a renewed effort to get those with prescriptions to lock up their pills and once they no longer need the medicine to dispose of it in secure drop boxes.

Sam Stockard on Jeremy Durham’s exit in his View From The Hill column.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap: Town Village Audubon Park retirement community sells to a Chicago private equity firm for $13 million, more details on the sale of the apartment complex on Cleveland across from Crump Stadium and the Loeb lease on Highland Strip with Burgerim, the Israel-based burger chain.


The Fed speaks and the key rate is unchanged which resets the clock on speculation about a coming interest rate hike.

Consider it an encore to the CEO of Wells Fargo on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this week. The IRS commissioner was on Capitol Hill Wednesday to talk about an impeachment resolution that is pending there.

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