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VOL. 132 | NO. 81 | Monday, April 24, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Two Science Marches, Bill Lee Kicks Off and Andrew Young on Ben Hooks

By Bill Dries

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Rainy Sunday in the city with ponchoed partisans of the Porter-Leath Ragin' Cajun gathering and Africa in April overlapping from the riverfront to Danny Thomas Boulevard. In Germantown, it was a soggy but colorful 5k for the Germantown Municipal School District with shades of blue, orange and of course pink, or was it red?, at different parts of the run.

Game 5 of the NBA playoff round between the Grizz and the Spurs is now set for Tuesday evening in San Antonio. Since a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to the Grizz is out of the question, the Grizz have to figure out how to contain the most dangerous man on the hardwood Saturday at the Forum. Grizz coach David Fizdale said after the game he’s open to suggestions on that point.

But such games here have a way of becoming part of a larger narrative about the city. Games won or lost like these carry over into the daily life of the city no matter how much we all know this is just a game. And it doesn’t last forever, to be fair … but you get the feeling it lingers here probably longer than it does in other places.

On Earth Day in Memphis there were two Marches for Science – localized marches in support of the larger March for Science in Washington. One of the Memphis Marches was Downtown and the other was in South Memphis. Both were in the Saturday morning rain along with a Memphis Area Veterans hike through parts of the city to raise awareness of veterans who commit suicide.

The two science marches were timed to coexist with Downtown going from 10 a.m. to noon and South Memphis noon to 2 p.m.

But WIRED reports there were some disagreements in the background of this that resulted in the decision to go with two events instead of one.

These kinds of differences come up more than you might think and are usually worked out. In the last year, we have seen an uptick in the number of protests and marches in the city and more citizens are increasing the turnout for some of those events because they are becoming politically involved at this level for the first time. Some of those organizing the marches and protests are veterans of such actions specifically in Memphis. Others have been organizers in other cities and communities.

The March Dakota Access Pipeline protest march from Beale Street Landing to City Hall saw its organizers rather pointedly enforce a different etiquette for the march that included Native Americans at the head of the march. There were also instructions to go with the chants of those who organized the event and not introduce other chants for other causes.

For the Memphians new to protest there is a lot of curiosity that has fueled and swelled the turnouts. There are different groups protesting for different reasons in different ways. Those groups cross over at times to join forces. At other times they are separate.

And at some point in this kind of participation it is only natural to wonder whether walking somewhere with signs with a lot of others who feel the same way is all there is. The most effective protests provide ways to deeper involvement. They also acknowledge that some participants will walk away and not return while others will walk away and perhaps want to stay involved but need something beyond a protest or march.

The mix is interesting to watch and there is a lengthier timeline for this than the election of Donald Trump in a city that Hillary Clinton carried by a two-to-one margin. For me, the current trajectory we find in Memphis has its beginnings in the local version of the occupy movement.

Saturday was also the last day for early voting in the special primary elections in state House District 95 with election day in the Collierville, Germantown, Eads district being Thursday.

In a district of about 51,000 voters, 2,535 voted early and all but 222 of those early voters were in the seven-candidate Republican primary. Julie Byrd Ashworth is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and automatically advances to the June 15 special election.

The early voter turnout is 0.44 percent of the voters in state House District 95.

The Thursday election day is but one of many and varied events in the week ahead.

Franklin, Tennessee businessman Bill Lee, whom we told you about in February, kicks off his bid for the Republican nomination for Governor Monday when takes delivery of the campaign bus he will use to visit all 95 counties across the state. We should have a schedule for the Shelby County stop later Monday.

Former Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner Randy Boyd of Knoxville is already in the race. And with the Legislature nearing the finish line, state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville is just about to be in campaign mode. U.S. Rep. Diane Black is thinking about the Republican race as well and there are those rumors about U.S. Sen. Bob Corker passing on a re-election bid next year and instead getting into the Republican race for Governor. We asked Corker about this last week on "Behind The Headlines" and he told us he is focused on the Senate at this time. Not a yes and not a no.

Regionalism used to be like education -- everyone running for or holding public office was for it and against crime. But making regionalism meaningful and more than a gesture to the obvious is much more difficult. But for all of the differences among the cities and towns and suburbs and remote areas in this region, there are factors influencing the leaders of all of those communities. They include an aging population and deciphering what millennials are telling us. That’s among the demographics more than 200 leaders, architects, planners, bankers, developers and academics not to mention a barrell full of mayors will explore Thursday at the RegionSmart conference Downtown put on by the Urban Land Institute and sponsored by The Daily News. It’s also the cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, by Don Wade.

“We’re trying to change the definition of ‘we’,” ULI Memphis director Anna Holtzclaw says in the cover story. The story also includes links to the five daily pieces we did which also help to set the table for the Thursday gathering.

Last year we told you about Graceland overseeing the conversion of Prince’s Paisley Park into a museum. The New York Times on the process of inventorying, archiving and maintaining the items at Paisley Park overseen by Angie Marchese who keeps Graceland Graceland as well.

Garrison takes a diversion deal.

Andrew Young has many titles – former United Nations ambassador, former U.S. Congressman, former mayor of Atlanta. In the years before he entered politics, Young was part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle – the small group whose counsel shaped the direction of the historic nonviolent movement. And in Memphis last week for the Hooks Institute gala, Young talked about the decision to pursue elected office and politics after King’s assassination. And he told us the accomplishments of Benjamin Hooks, Russell Sugarmon and A. W. Willis before they ran for office were a part of his consideration.

Before the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, there were numerous programs with the stated goal that home ownership was for everybody. Now with housing recovering, there are new efforts toward increasing the home ownership rates of African-Americans in Memphis. This new effort moving more slowly and with a goal of a better understanding of what it means to own a home. The effort by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers is also framing home ownership as a way to build wealth.

The Memphis News Almanac: The fiery fate of the Sultana, Squatters on Mud Island, Ray escapes and Macca is in town.

PROPERTY SALES 69 163 12,921
MORTGAGES 35 85 8,088
BUILDING PERMITS 109 531 30,465
BANKRUPTCIES 18 85 6,149