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VOL. 132 | NO. 251 | Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Moving the Mountaintop, Brooks Idea and No Voucher Bill in 2018

By Bill Dries

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The Mountaintop is moving – the circa 1977 sculpture that for many years was the only public memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- other than the pre-National Civil Rights Museum at what was then the Lorraine Motel. It’s had a few locations over the last 40 years and it's been in the Memphis elements constantly.

But I still think of the old Mallory Knights civic group gathering around it wherever it happened to be on April 4 with a large framed picture of King and a PA system playing King’s speeches for all to hear. Look for it at Second and Martin Luther King Boulevard as another of the city’s permanent park-like spaces about King and the 1968 sanitation workers strike.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park would become the National Black Theater Museum under a proposal in the works for a few months now that was made public yesterday at City Hall by Hattiloo Theater founder Ekundayo Bandele. And for a few months of work, the plan already has a high level of detail and commitments. It was presented at the Memphis City Council’s executive session Tuesday. It would be state of the art high tech reaching all the way back to Africa in the 1400s to today. It was also be an academic center with a manuscript collection.

Meanwhile, renovations are about to begin on what will be the first-ever permanent home that the 10-year old Tennessee Shakespeare Company has ever had. It’s the old Ballet Memphis building in Cordova that was originally an ice rink before that.

That was unusual. The council was just getting deep into what looked to be a long debate Tuesday about proposed light gas and water rate increases proposed by MLGW when council chairman Berlin Boyd recessed the meeting until 4 p.m. Wednesday. The recess left undone some unrelated business further down the agenda. Here’s the rundown of what action the council did take and what the recommendations are for the MLGW rate hikes.

The FedEx earnings call Tuesday was all about the busiest time of the year at the Memphis institution and a projection of another record year for holiday deliveries. And the company praised the federal tax reform bill that was making its way through the House at about the same time.

Speaking of that, Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis voted against the bill and Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown voted for the bill. And the Senate vote approving the same bill just before midnight here was a party line vote, meaning Republican U.S. Sen.s Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker voted for it. Lots of parliamentary swordplay in both chambers on this and as a result the House will revote Wednesday. 

Chalkbeat on state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown backing away from voucher legislation in Nashville next year.

And a Tennessee Attorney General’s opinion puts a decision on college tuition for the children of immigrants who brought them to this country illegally is back in the Legislature’s lap. The AG says student aid for those students is not a decision college and university presidents can make on their own.

The Year In Review wheel stops on the banking industry locally in the year almost gone by. And it is mostly a story of growth.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment is Chris Lankford, manager of Agricenter’s new organic resource center. And in his Q&A, he talks about dicamba drift and what the move to organic means for farmers.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751