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VOL. 132 | NO. 68 | Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Police Presence on MLK Day, 'R on R Crime' and Fashion on Flicker

By Bill Dries

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I’m going to err on the side of caution and say that the helicopter constantly circling over the National Civil Rights Museum Tuesday during the otherwise solemn observance of the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination could have been one used by one of the television stations. It also could have been a police helicopter and that would fit with the highly visible presence Memphis Police have chosen to take in the last year or so of protest in the city.

I know the drone I saw over the “Fight for $15” march as it stepped off the Main Street Mall to go south on Main toward the museum was a police drone because I saw it launched at the corner of Peabody Place and Main by police officers. And a police car was parked in front of the doors to City Hall at the start of the march.

My only point here is I’ve been covering the anniversary of the assassination since the ninth anniversary in 1977 and I’ve never seen a police presence this heavy.

An important development in the state’s ongoing changes in the way it calculates public schools in the state’s bottom 5 percent and the turnaround efforts used to address those schools. Chalkbeat reports the state won’t run the list of the bottom 5 percent this summer, waiting instead until the summer of 2018.

In the Tennessee Legislature:

“R on R crime” in the state House over the gas tax bill as some Republicans try to send Gov. Bill Haslam’s set of tax hikes and tax cuts back to the starting line.

There was some thought after last year’s presidential election – even some predictions – that some Republicans in the Legislature might try to end the state’s open primary system. That means an end to a system in which you declare which primary -- if any -- you want to vote in when you go to vote. You can vote Republican in one set of primary elections and then months later or the next year vote in Democratic primaries. I know some citizens will declare until they are blue or red in the face – depending on your partisan leanings – that they are “registered” Democrats or “registered” Republicans. You aren’t in Tennessee. You don’t state your party preference when you register to vote.

Two Republican legislators tried to change that with a bill this year and it bit the dust this week.

In-state tuition rates for state colleges and universities for students whose parents entered the country illegally: it’s a bill with Republican sponsors from Shelby County making its way through the Legislature and it has support from Haslam.

The broadband bill we’ve been tracking cleared the Senate in a floor vote Monday but there is an amendment that dropped the internet speed requirements for getting grants that are a part of the legislation.

And our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard on the bill that bars insurors from requiring a higher copay for oral chemo drugs than for injected chemo medication. The debate is largely over an amendment requiring a report to the state if a pharma company raises the price of oral chemo 10 percent or more in a fiscal year. There is also lots of discussion about the pressure pharma lobbyists are bringing to bear on the issue.

Fashion on Flicker Street. As Memphis Fashion Week continues, we look at the fashion business incubator on Flicker that is being coordinated by the Memphis Fashion Design Network.

If you are going to talk about planning in Memphis in any kind of comprehensive way, you will be talking about parks. And for the RegionSmart Summit April 27 that we are involved in with the Urban Land Institute, New York City’s parks and recreation commissioner Mitchell Silver will be in town to talk about new ideas in parks and the role they play in encouraging overall development plans. In our discussion with Silver in advance, he sets the stage with some comments on the difficulty of regionalism and the concept of megaregionalism.

There were April showers Monday as the Shelby County Commission met and signs of that other season that comes at this time of the year too – budget season. So you might call Monday’s discussion by the commission about a surplus in the county’s debt service fund the first bit of green to show itself or the first bud about to flower – or not.

Malco sets an April 13 reopening for its renovated and rebranded Wolfchase cinema.

The IRS is returning to the use of private debt collectors.

And the national trade deficit drops in February figures as imports from China drop like a rock.

PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225