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VOL. 132 | NO. 67 | Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Catechism of 1968, Downtown Hotels and Earth Day on Auto Row

By Bill Dries

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What happened 49 years ago this week in our city began long before the first sanitation worker walked off the job or the first “I Am A Man” sign was made. Maybe it was that long arc that explains the timing of what happened here in late March into the first week of April of 1968. For just about half a century now we have thought and thought again about that chronology, reviewed the details. And what we have is a sort of catechism of moments that if they had happened differently, we can’t help thinking, might have produced a different result.

Over time, more of us who weren’t alive in 1968 encounter these last moments and steps with the same attention to detail even as the habits and mundane items in the litany sometimes need explaining.

So on Monday morning at just about the time that Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Memphis 49 years ago at Memphis International Airport, Andrew Young – part of his inner circle who was on the flight to Memphis – was back at the airport for the unveiling of a historic marker along with some photographs by Ernest Withers on the arrival never before seen. The marker is about King’s last flight. And as Young arrived, Rev. Jesse Jackson walked through to the area, after arriving on a separate flight for an event Monday evening at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME Church.

The marker is part of preparations to mark the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination one year from now with the First Tennessee Foundation and Sun Trust Bank putting up the funding for the marker. Those contributions coming after John Hope Bryant of Operation HOPE, who has been through the airport numerous times on business flights, began to talk about the absence of any marker on airport property.

As the week began, City Hall was moving toward reviving the discussions about what to do with the Fairgrounds, including the Mid-South Coliseum. Late last week, Wiseacre Brewing told the city administration that its idea of expanding its brewing operations with a brewery at the Coliseum isn’t feasible at least for now. So the exclusivity agreement Wiseacre had with the city is over. The door isn’t shut on the idea of a bigger Wiseacre there but the city will be looking at other ideas as well. And Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is ready to take a proposal for the Tourism Development Zone for the Fairgrounds area to the state for approval in the fall.

In our Economic Development Emphasis:

3,000 rooms across 15 hotels Downtown. Start from there for a survey of Downtown’s hotel needs – specifically for a convention center hotel that has the ability to up the city’s convention game.

One element of the city’s diversity is in the kinds of neighborhoods Memphis has, which can differ greatly when you cross a street in our city. That means economic development efforts rarely succeed with a one size fits all model. Come to think about it – when did that model ever work for anything here? But I digress. That’s not to say appreciation for the differences in neighborhoods is all we need to bring these areas back. Grass roots economic development is hard work even under ideal conditions in Memphis and you don’t get much more grass roots than north Memphis.

And a look at how a new small business forgivable loan program overseen by EDGE has worked out for Camy’s.

FTN Financial closes on its acquisition of Coastal Securities Inc. of Houston which gives First Tennessee deeper pockets in Small Business Administration and federal agriculture loans.

Is Frayser residential about to turn a corner? It certainly seems so based on some of the discussion on the most recent episode of “Behind The Headlines” on WKNO. But investors buying single family to rent it out is still an indication of the size of the crater the recession left here and especially in Frayser, which was somewhere near the center of the crater. And the demerger of education has changed the market profoundly, specifically where new homes are being built provided developers can find lots there.

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner is one of the two recipients this year of the Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards that we sponsor along with the Rotary Club of Memphis East. No, it’s not the East Memphis Rotary Club. The awards are a chance for us to look at how citizens become involved in public service whether it’s a full-time unelected job or a rise to elected office. Frequently the path is a bit of both as in Joyner’s case.

Earth Day will be here before you know it – about six weeks – and the effort is moving into numerous areas including auto row on Covington Pike and Elvis Presley Boulevard in Whitehaven. And if you have trouble remembering that come April and may also forget to adjust your driving habits – Memphis Police will be at both efforts to help with traffic control.

Memphis Democrats in Nashville try to get something going across party lines on their bills to stop Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing plans. Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, reviews the four Democratic bills pending.

Here’s a recap of The Tennessean’s reporting on Legislators who are using their campaign funds to buy items and then also taking the same expenses from the state’s per diem reimbursements that legislators get as well. Some legislators call this double dipping although the political term usually applies to taking pensions and similar benefits from service in two different governments – state and local or city and county.

Conservative Middle Tennessee legislator Glen Casada has found a use for all of the sleeping bags he has been sent recently from citizens upset about his efforts toward reimbursing legislators who live within 50 miles of Nashville for hotel stays in the capitol. He will donate them to the Nashville Rescue Mission.

A final decision in the Arkansas Legislature, at least for this session, on paying state sales tax there on items you buy online – the online retailers do not have to collect it.

The ballot selfie would appear to be back despite Tennessee state law banning photography in general in a polling place. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that voters in New Hampshire are free to take selfies and post them to their heart’s content. Here is the Bloomberg story.

A couple of clarifications on our story about plans for a renovated Bartlett High School campus:

The $8 million in reserve funding toward the financing of this $60 million project would come from the reserves of the Bartlett school system not the city.

And the property that was looked at early on for an expansion of the campus but was ruled out belonged to Raleigh United Methodist Church not Bartlett United Methodist Church.

Tax tips from Associated Press on the income you made driving for Uber or on Airbnb.

Car sales dropping but not the price of trucks and SUVs.

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149