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VOL. 132 | NO. 241 | Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Norvell's New Contract, Grade-Changing Culture and Buying Gibson

By Bill Dries

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So the Grizz snap the losing streak Monday with a win over the Timberwolves. They try to start a winning streak Wednesday against the Knicks. Elsewhere, so much for a holiday lull. It was cold outside but many a keyboard around this place was warm enough Tuesday afternoon with both the anticipated and the unanticipated. And then there were those items that fall somewhere inbetween. Could happen but will it be today? In many of those cases, the answer was yes.

Let’s start with Tigers football and coach Mike Norvell’s new five-year deal that keeps him in Memphis past the Liberty Bowl later this month. Estimated value of this extension $13 million with a hike in the salary pool he has for assistants and staff.

Less than a month after finding a gun in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi, authorities here arrested a suspect in the 2010 murder of Lorenzen Wright. Billy Turner was indicted on a first degree murder charge Tuesday by the Shelby County Grand Jury and was arrested on the warrant before noon. The charge and his arrest doesn’t answer a lot of questions about how and why Wright died violently. The prosecutors handling the case are with the multi-agency gang unit. That could be a clue but those prosecutors can and have worked on other kinds of cases. So don’t put a whole lot of weight on that just yet.

The independent investigation of grade-changing allegations at Trezevant High School released at the Tuesday business meeting of the Shelby County Schools board. The team of attorneys was led by former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton and was detailed enough to involve an accounting firm and some former federal prosecutors and FBI agents. The detailed report comes in at just over 250 pages and concludes there was “systemic” grade-changing at Trezevant and not just for student-athletes by Teli White, the school’s football coach. And the report concludes this is probably a problem in other schools. School board members say it is representative of a culture in schools that they mean to change. They also question how others at Trezevant could not have known something was up. Meanwhile, the process of terminating White as a teacher and coach began right after the briefing on the report.

The two investment firms that bought the Gibson Guitar Factory by FedExForum expect to close on the deal for prime Downtown real estate a week from now. They also bought a Gibson warehouse in Nashville last month. No details on what plans they have for the Memphis property or terms of the deal.

The November 2018 elections are a long way off with two earlier elections ahead of them in line. But you can add a referendum to the November ballot that would repeal ranked-choice voting. The Memphis City Council gave final approval to that ballot question Tuesday despite a vocal turnout by proponents of RCV. The council’s attorney Allan Wade was just as vocal in questioning their motives and arguing a more direct route would be to eliminate the last remants of runoffs in city and county governments. More on that longer view when next we meet.

Also a first reading vote on another charter amendment that could also go on the November ballot – extending the city’s two-term limit to three-terms and not just the council but the mayor too, which drew a reaction from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Here’s a recap of the big skirmish on the county side of the Main Street Mall over opioid litigation that also features Wade – who in this case represents the county commission in this particular matter.

“What they don’t tell you about Memphis is it takes you awhile to break into politics and government.” More on Republican county commission contender Geoff Diaz who finds himself in what could be one of the busiest commission races on the 2018 ballot and what he learned from his first bid for commission four years ago. Diaz also talks about his involvement in local DACA protests.

The chairman of Pinnacle Financial’s Memphis operations talks about the bank’s growth strategy here including recruiting executives and new branches under construction in Whitehaven, Southaven and Bartlett.

AutoZone posts better earnings that expected ahead of its annual meeting here in just a few weeks after some challenging quarters in the past.

No more Dixie Café. Does that mean the Knickerbocker might come back on Poplar?

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, the new president of Coldwell Banker Collins Maury of Collierville shreds.

PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593