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VOL. 132 | NO. 74 | Thursday, April 13, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Season's End, 100 N. Main Delays and Voting With Popsicle Sticks

By Bill Dries

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The last Grizz game of the regular season is a loss to the Mavericks Wednesday evening at the Forum 100 – 93. Look for further word Thursday on Tony Allen's right leg injury. Here comes the “second season” starting with the Spurs. Inbetween is a trip down memory lane as the two-hour "30 for 30" documentary on John Calipari debuts Thursday on ESPN. There was a screening Monday in Kentucky that Calipari attended. The Lexington Herald-Leader has more.

The sale of the tallest building in Memphis is postponed a sixth time. That was the word at noon Wednesday on the steps of the courthouse where the foreclosure sale of the 100 N. Main Building, which is on the southwest corner of the same intersection, was delayed until April 26. And the attorney who is the receiver in the case says the time between now and then is a “last shot” for investors to come forward. The building is fenced off and though structurally sound is a blight on the Downtown core. Meanwhile, someone has taken plastic flowers and formed the word “revive” on the mall side of the chain-link fence.

Two schools of thought about how to go about forging a compromise – find all of the points on which there is agreement and bundle them together, try to negotiate the other points and probably add a few to the critical mass OR go right to the areas where the two sides are on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon flipping each other off and try to find a trail between the two where they cannot rain down rocks on you. By our count the Overton Park-Memphis Zoo parking controversy has been through four mediation-negotiation attempts. That doesn’t even count the ones prior to 2016. The fourth one was the one that materialized at City Hall Tuesday.

Here’s a closer look at the road to that agreement and how the idea that the two sides might resolve the issues they didn’t agree on based on what they did agree on was undone by the one constant in this controversy – profound mistrust.

Meanwhile, first thing Wednesday morning, the Overton Park Conservancy was messaging its supporters to start raising all of its share of money for design and construction of the reconfigured zoo parking lot that is the solution to this. The subject header reads: “Two months, $1 million to take back the Greensward.”

Also more on the end of the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority. Not much of a “what next” sentiment from anyone involved about this, which should give you an idea of just how treacherous the business of Beale Street can be not to mention litigious. The authority, I think, will ultimately be seen as the bridge between John Elkington’s pivotal, if controversial, tenure as the renovated district’s developer and manager and whoever ends up leading the second phase of the new Beale Street. The authority couldn’t find its way to the primary first task of hiring a manager of the district that would allow it to make long term plans. But it did at least establish some means for an accounting of the street’s finances reasonably free from lease terms and other features of entertainment accounting that complicated the finances over several decades.

Now that the change in ownership of the Sheraton convention center hotel is on its way to a closing probably next week, the city has put out RFPs looking for a hotel consultant to think bigger about hotel and meeting space around the convention center. It’s a move we told you about last month. The new ownership group at the Sheraton has been talking with the city administration about the city’s Gateway plan in recent weeks, getting a briefing on what the plans entail so far.

In the Tennessee Legislature:

The school voucher bill sponsored by Germantown Republican Brian Kelsey in the Senate moves out of House committee Wednesday but with a “neutral” recommendation after two weeks of delay. The competition for the most complex legislation with the most moving parts is between this legislation and the gas tax bill.

In the case of the voucher bill, there was an amendment added this week that would allow private schools accepting the vouchers to opt out of state testing. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard says this could be a hitch in the bill’s still complex journey to the House floor. It has at least one more committee stop.

As for the gas tax bill, the House Republican caucus voted Monday night to oppose the much amended version favored by the Senate leadership and backed by Gov. Bill Haslam. The GOP caucus members voted by secret ballot – popsicle sticks to be exact. You can’t make this stuff up. The vote, despite all of the jokes and images that are coursing through your minds at this moment, was an important indicator of where the votes are in the house and where they are not – and more importantly, how close the margin is between the two.

House Speaker Beth Harwell who has been working on an alternative is now calling for more of a transportation funding plan than a gas tax alternative.

In his “View From The Hill” column, Stockard goes in even closer on this for a look at the Republicans in the House who oppose the Haslam plan. They are being called the “Fire and Brimstone Caucus” and they are complaining that their party’s leadership in the House is trying to silence them.

In other matters, a red light camera bill is withdrawn – legislation that would have made secret the names of Tennesseans cited by the system for running red lights who refuse to pay the fines, citing state law.

In the Mississippi Legislature this week, Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a new measure that restricts how Mississippi politicians can spend their campaign cash. It limits the use of money in campaign accounts from being spent on personal items like clothes, cars, tuition, funerals etc. This follows a review of campaign finance reports recently by the Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson.

In Arkansas’s capitol, final approval for the rules that will govern medical marijuana coming to Arkansas in May. But there is a review by legislators before the terms are set in stone.

Move in work underway for three more tenants moving into Crosstown ConcourseALSAC, Farm Burger and Crosstown Arts – Crosstown Arts being where this whole idea of bringing back the Sears Crosstown building originated.

Another milestone at Graceland, SiriusXM Elvis Radio began broadcasting from its new studios Wednesday at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the entertainment complex across the street from rock and roll’s house on the hill in Whitehaven.

Later this month, a different kind of fundraiser for the arts in Memphis that will appeal to your inner-Ikea or at least the part of you that enjoys looking at the rooms but is really trying to get down just where the short cuts are. Art by Design is interior designers taking a 12 by 16 foot space and working their magic. Some vendors will be there as well. All of this benefits 60 arts organizations and artists.

An automated microbiology lab in Cordova is a partnership between Baptist and American Esoteric Labs. The lab operates 24-hours a day for medical practices including the Baptist Medical Group and 17 BMH hospitals in the region. AEL executives say the automation allows the lab to deliver results one to two days faster than conventional hospital-based labs.

Porter Leath holds a job fair Thursday for pre school staff.

PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964