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VOL. 132 | NO. 85 | Friday, April 28, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: End of The Season, Honoring Forrest and MATA's Coming Campaign

By Bill Dries

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It’s over. No Game 7 for the Grizz and the off-season begins. Spurs advance after beating the Grizz at the Forum Thursday 103 – 96. But in the process, the Grizz created a chapter in Memphis basketball lore where it is about more than winning on the court.

As Game 6 was underway Thursday, the votes were being counted in the special primary election for state House District 95. And the winner in the seven-candidate low-turnout Republican primary is Collierville Schools board member Kevin Vaughan. He advances to the June 15 special general election with early voting in that contest starting May 26.

Developers of the Overton Park Gateway project (I think we’ve reached our limit of projects using the work gateway) make some changes in the set of apartments on both sides of Sam Cooper Boulevard at East Parkway and take the amended plan to neighbors. The neighbors still don’t like it.

More on Mueller Industries’ relocation to Collierville and its application to the Collierville IDB for a PILOT. Meanwhile, earnings reports for the first quarter Thursday from International Paper and ServiceMaster.

In the Tennessee Legislature, a week-ending controversy over an item on what is supposed to be the least controversial thing the Legislature does – a resolution honoring a constituent. In this case it was a constituent who wrote a book titled Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption” that came out seven years ago. The House sponsor of the resolution, from Smyrna, included some kind words for the state’s first African-American legislator, Sampson Keeble, a former slave from Nashville, who served during Reconstruction – the period after men like Forrest made a lot of money buying and selling people like Keeble. The resolution by state Rep. Mike Sparks puts great emphasis on the view that Forrest became an advocate for the rights of the people he used to buy and sell and the people the Ku Klux Klan, the organization he served as the first Grand Wizard of, terrorized after the Civil War. The claim is based on a single speech Forrest made in Memphis and the attendance of African-Americans at his funeral in 1877.

The resolution failed individually earlier in the session. But Sparks returned with it in another form and got it on a House consent calendar among dozens of similar resolutions honoring individuals that were all voted on together in a single vote. Not only was it approved – it was signed by House Speaker Beth Harwell. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reports members of the Legislature’s Black Caucus claimed “deception” the following day.

Also from the week in Nashville, the Legislature has approved a bill from Gov. Bill Haslam that would require charter schools receiving public funding to be evaluated based on their performance.

Back here, there is a move afoot to overhaul the Memphis Area Transit Authority with $30 million in new funding that could include a tax referendum in return for a new bus system with one-way trips anywhere in the city that come in at an hour or under with bus stops within a quarter of a mile of the homes and the workplaces of 70 percent of the population. The precise plan is expected to be ready by late summer. But the principles behind it are already being discussed. And MATA chief Gary Rosenfeld acknowledges it will be a tough sell five years after Memphis voters rejected a one-cent gas tax hike for the same general goals.

The cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, by Andy Meek looks at the financial markets four months into the Trump administration and finds both optimism and uncertainty in what financial planners and economists see coming from the White House as well as Congress. This is in advance of next week’s Money and Markets installment of The Daily News Seminar Series at the Brooks.

Also in the weekly is The Memphis News Economic Overview, a deep dive into first quarter economic figures for Memphis that you can download here.

The PDF of the new issue is up on this very website. The hard copies hit the racks Friday morning and the cover story goes up online Friday afternoon.

A slight dip in our unemployment rate locally.

At the end of the day-long RegionSmart Summit by the Urban Land Institute Downtown, Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman praised the comfortable chairs at the Halloran Centre. On a serious note, there was a lot to discuss and think about at the gathering that The Daily News was a sponsor of, with experts from across the country featured.

Michael Randle, whose Southern Business and Development publications and data base out of Birmingham track labor, workforce and economic development statistics in the South, challenged the idea that there is a labor shortage that is a matter of training folks who currently aren’t trained in a room that included people who have called attention to just such a shortage. In the process, he said with an aging population that will be out of the workforce along with others who can’t work for other reasons, America has to have immigrant labor. “If we’re going to build a wall, we need to build a wall to keep them in,” Randle said at one point.

The summit was opened by author Peter Kageyama who talked more about his concept of civic love for one’s city.

In our Friday Sports Section:

Tigers basketball self-evaluation.

U of M softball has a finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year who is batting .487.

David Climer on another college team using JUCO transfers – UT football. And Dave Link  has the lessons of spring football in Knoxville.

Independent Bookstore Day is this weekend.

“Behind The Headlines” is a reporter’s roundtable on various topics of the week including passage of the IMPROVE Act, rolling the voucher bill and the city budget season as well as school funding. Our guests are Bernal Smith of The New Tri-State Defender and Laura Faith Kebede of Chalkbeat Tennessee. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

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