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VOL. 132 | NO. 173 | Thursday, August 31, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Game Day, Corker at Southwind on Taxes and Trump and Hotel Stats

By Bill Dries

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The game is on rain or shine at the Liberty Bowl Thursday. And the start of the Tigers football season could be a very soggy start with remnants of Hurricane Harvey arriving. So while tailgating on Tiger Lane may involve umbrellas, none are allowed in the Liberty Bowl itself. Ponchos it is for your face time on CBS Thursday evening.

High school end of course exam results released from Nashville Wednesday by local school districts. And Shelby County Schools showed growth in students “on track” or who have “mastered” state standards in math and English. That is the terminology of the TnReady standards, now in their second academic year although some parts are still in transition.

The quick handle on summarizing the results is to look at the percentage of students who are below standards. And by that handle, SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s description of the SCS results as “sober but not surprising” seems to apply. Meanwhile, bigger gains among the suburban school systems – in particular Collierville, Germantown and Arlington.

These results are no quick summary in their totality. And we know how many of you like to dive into the deep end when these kinds of numbers come up. So here is your link to the much more detailed data from the Tennessee Department of Education. The lay out is pretty intuitive once you click on the spread sheet.

The scores were Wednesday morning. Wednesday evening, the state announced federal education officials have approved the state’s Every Students Succeeds Act plan. Each state has an ESSA plan for how it will go about meeting its own standards. There are some federal rules in here, notably the one that requires local school districts get a chance at turning around a failing school that is new to the bottom five percent of schools statewide before there is a takeover like the Achievement School District. There is also federal funding involved for the LEA turn around efforts and other parts of the state-by-state plans and thus the approval in Washington.

The Latino Memphis annual leadership luncheon this week was quite different for the organization than it was a year ago. The organization has become a different kind of voice for the city’s Latino population with changes in federal immigration policies and practices since Donald Trump became president and the leader of Latino Memphis talked about the change.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker on tax reform and tax cuts at the Germantown Rotary Club Wednesday at Southwind. Corker made a distinction between the two goals and said Republicans have to be “realistic” about specific tax cuts in the name of spurring economic development.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on the road in Missouri Wednesday talking about tax reform as a populist call to frame his version of a proposal that is still forming but which Corker and other Republicans in Congress believe doesn’t have much if any chance of passing if it isn’t approved by the end of this year.

As the last panel discussion of the Southern Lodging Summit got underway Wednesday afternoon Downtown, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland came in to watch. The topic was convention center hotels – one that Strickland’s administration has been discussing a lot in the last year or so. And Strickland joined two tables of folks from his 7th floor at City Hall already there to hear what the experts had to say. They heard a pitch from one of the panelists on the benefits of cities owning convention center hotels. That’s a line Strickland has vowed the city will not cross and he reaffirmed his stand against that after the panel discussion. Also some really good nuts and bolts points from the group, including Nashville’s tourism head, about how to do this right and how to really screw it up.

The summit also comes with a lot of data on the city’s room supply, room demand and of course, the occupancy rate. We break that down and look at the AirBnB side of the industry as well. The city just got its first check from AirBnBs from the newly enacted occupancy tax. Meanwhile, the company compiling the stats for the gathering says Downtown hotels are missing opportunities.

Among the speakers at our own Daily News Seminar next month on small business at the Brooks is Deni Reilly of the Majestic Grille, who offers a preview of sorts to the discussion including the unusual nature of the restaurant industry.

Meanwhile, some changes at Café Pontotoc in South Main as it gets a new owner and slims down to just “Pontotoc.”

New Pinnacle Bank branch at Union and Rozelle. This is west of Belvedere at the site of the storefront that burned last year. So the new build goes to the Board of Adjustment because it involves a drive-thru and the Midtown Overlay.

Also on the way to the BOA, an environmental services company along the industrial part of Brooks Road.

So with the coming move of MassMutual – merged with Capital Finance Group – to Clark Tower, what happens to its space at Triad III. Highwoods says it’s already drawn some serious interest in what remains the class A office space capitol centered on Poplar and Ridgeway.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard says outsourcing state parks may be off the table but there is now some debate about whether that was the intent of Gov. Bill Haslam.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173