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VOL. 132 | NO. 152 | Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Kustoff at Rotary, Royal's Vibe and The Terms of MEMPOWER

By Bill Dries

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The investment group that renovated the Chisca resurfaced Tuesday evening with a plan for the Wonder Bread factory, vacant for the last four years. But don’t look for a return of the bread smell to the Edge area. And if you look at what has started to happen in that particular corridor since Wonder Bread shut down, the mixed-use plan has some precedent. Throw in the move to sell The Commercial Appeal property just a few blocks away and if the economy remains this good, the transformation in this area could be radical in another four years.

Of course, there are ways to get the bread smell back. The most obvious way, of course, is to include a bakery in the retail uses. If that doesn’t work out, there was an intriguing art installation in 2008 by the UrbanArt Commission just a bit to the east. The artist Sanjit Sethi found the site where a bakery owned by two Japanese families was once located on Madison Avenue west of Cleveland. It’s a parking lot with a power transformer these days. But it was the Kuni Wada Bakery up until Pearl Harbor in 1941. Shortly thereafter the Kawaiis and Nakajima families were arrested, their bakery closed and the property seized by the Federal Reserve Bank. The installation notes all of that on a metal plaque attached to a box on a pedestal. The box, for a short time spread the scent of baking bread twice a day in the immediate area with the idea that someone would follow the scent to the marker. The marker is still there. Bring your own bread, freshly baked please.

Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown came to the Memphis Rotary Club Tuesday to talk about tax reform and another try at replacing Obamacare after the August recess in Washington. And he got three rapid fire questions about the conduct of the Trump presidency from three reporters who are also Rotarians; Otis Sanford of The Commercial Appeal; Jackson Baker of The Memphis Flyer and Joe Birch of Action News 5. The result was some adamant statements about what constituents care about and what they don’t care about.

Here is the Politico excerpt of the new book by Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona that was a part of the back and forth.

When next we meet, more on Kustoff’s view on tax reform and trying again on an Obamacare replacement.

The Royal vibeBoo Mitchell talks about the 60-th anniversary of the South Memphis recording studio.

In this off-election year for Memphis politics, Ricky E. Wilkins is attempting first to organize the city’s African-American political and business base on the premise that efforts across racial lines aren’t getting far enough, fast enough. Wilkins, an attorney who ran for Congress in 2014 and is a former chairman of the Memphis Housing Authority board during the HOPE VI era that replaced almost all of the city’s major public housing projects with mixed-use mixed-income development, calls the effort MEMPOWER. Wilkins effort is also fueled by a life-changing event in the last six months. Diagnosed with brain cancer, Wilkins has undergone two operations and in the last month has been back in political circulation talking up the MEMPOWER effort around town. Wilkins’ timing in an off-election year is no accident. Wilkins says he wants to make it clear he is not running for anything now or in the future in what is an ambitious undertaking whose timetable is to start with the black community and then cross racial lines.

One of the features of a lot of political energy unleashed around the city by the 2016 elections is the different approaches to a new wave of activism. Some of it is generational. Some of the difference is about tactics. And still other parts of the discussion are about priorities – what to go after first and with whom. More on that next time as we look ahead to Saturday's selection of a new Shelby County Democratic Party chairman.

A new SCORE – State Collaborative on Reforming Education – poll finds Democrats supporting the education reforms of Republican Bill Haslam’s tenure as Tennessee Gov. But a candidate running to succeed Haslam next year who vows to keep those programs in place isn’t likely to see a bounce from that. And there is a partisan divide in how those polled view the Tennessee Legislature.

Obviously, this poll doesn’t speak for all Republicans and/or all Democrats. It certainly doesn’t speak for Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis. Cohen told those at last month’s Shelby County Democratic Party convention that his verdict on Haslam is that he hasn’t been a very good governor. “He’s not a good governor at all,” Cohen began, saying a long line of former governors going back to Winfield Dunn but excluding Ray Blanton were better. “They didn’t give away the campuses. They didn’t give away the state buildings. They didn’t open the state’s full scholarships – the most successful scholarship governmental program – that has no score to qualify and no need-based component.”

More from AP on the decision this week by U.S. Rep. John Duncan of Knoxville that he will not run for another term in 2018.

The wrong Lawson brother, Cardinals status quo and choosing the NBA’s MVP, all ingredients from Don Wade’s notebook.

A fourth Soulfish around Wolfchase Galleria. Look for an opening in the first quarter of next year.

The Agricenter Farmer’s Market is 31 years old, actually a little bit older than that but the market is marking the occasion this week at the trademark red barn that has actually been there for quite a while.

Two guys who work at Accredo Health are told they will have to move to St. Louis to keep their jobs when Accredo gets bought and instead get into the pizza business that now has five locations over the last five years in the Memphis area.

A merger of two Arkansas community colleges in Forrest City.

The Noura Jackson case in the New York Times Magazine.

The lobby of the remodeled Clark Tower has a new bank.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047