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VOL. 132 | NO. 33 | Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Lovell's Fall, Critical Focus Debut and Super Lice

By Bill Dries

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That didn’t last long – the political career of state Representative Mark Lovell. About six weeks into a two-year term of office six months after he upset veteran Republican state Rep. Curry Todd, Lovell resigned Tuesday in Nashville. But the Legislature probably isn’t done with him yet. Even if it turns out the Legislature is done in terms of dealing with him directly, it will probably be talking about him for longer than the six weeks he was a legislator.

There is an allegation of sexual harassment – inappropriate touching. Lovell denies anything happened. But there are calls for an investigation in the wake of last year’s scandal involving state Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin. In Durham’s case, the allegations were so widespread, and eventually judged true by the state’s attorney general and other investigators, that Durham was exiled to a neighboring state office building so he would have no contact with women working in the capitol hill offices.

The legislature’s experience with and the resulting turmoil generated by Durham’s case is likely to loom large in whatever follow-up there is on Lovell. And some legislators clearly want there to be some follow up. Meanwhile, others including House Speaker Beth Harwell appear to be arguing that with Lovell’s resignation the Legislature’s oversight of this is done. Durham did not go willingly last year.

Here is the complete accounting of this scandal so far from our hard-working Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard.

The reason Lovell gave for his resignation was that he didn’t realize being a state legislator would be this much work. Lovell’s business is putting on county fairs and expos across the country including the Delta Fair at Agricenter. Last year, before he decided to run for the state House, Lovell raised his profile with bids by another of his companies to run both Mud Island River Park and Beale Street. The offers in response to separate requests for proposals didn’t get very far before they were ruled out. And Lovell has been vocal about what he feels is unfair treatment by the city as he’s tried to do fair events Downtown, including in Tom Lee Park.

After his proposals on Beale and Mud Island didn’t pan out, Lovell out-campaigned Todd going into the August legislative primaries – the election where legislative incumbents are most vulnerable and it paid off. Some of that was Todd’s self destruction, particularly his removal of Lovell’s campaign signs which was caught on video.

By the end of the day Tuesday back here, those who will be seeking the interim appointment to the District 95 seat by the Shelby County Commission were dusting off resumes.

Whoever gets the appointment would serve until there can be a special election. There is only one regularly scheduled election on the 2017 calendar – Arlington municipal elections for aldermen and school board members on Sept. 21. So the game plan seems likely to be appoint someone to serve the rest of this legislative session which should be May or June at the latest. And then elect someone to serve the last session of Lovell’s term, possibly the same person who got the appointment.

This how a sparse election year starts to flesh out and before you know it, you’ve got another series of races on the ballot in different parts of the county where there were none before.

The latest alternative to Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax bill involves alternative fuels and Memphis Democrat Sara Kyle is the Senate sponsor.

Good reviews Tuesday as Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson formally presented his plan for a set of “critical focus” schools – a group of 19 that either have plans for their turnaround or will be developing them in the next 60 days or so. Here is the heart and soul of the effort as we outlined first Tuesday morning before the presentation to the board.

While the effort is new, it comes from a lot of experience in recent years with the school closing process. Hopson has usually reversed one or two of those recommendations in each tier after hearing from communities and parents who make a heartfelt plea for one more chance. It works out some of the time like with Alcy Elementary. Other times it doesn’t – think Northside High. And at the outset of this, either is a possibility for this set of schools. In fact, it’s likely three of these schools will be consolidated into new larger schools close to them. As he indicated last month, Hopson is also willing to look at the communities around the schools in what it is able to do with state money coming through the new federal ESSA program.

New restaurant on 7724 Poplar Pike in Old Germantown. “Farm and Fries” cleared the Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week. It’s across the Pike from the park by Germantown High School.

Super lice are the focus of a new Germantown business already open – “Lice Clinics of America.” And our piece on the new clinic includes some talk about the stigma of lice.

Once it moves into its new quarters at Crosstown Concourse, Church Health will be talking more about culinary medicine – food as medicine. The classes in this began in the fall. New classes in the new place this spring will be free and take place in Church Health’s new test kitchen.

Green lights at the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. Tuesday for two Downtown projects and the change in plans for Midtown Market we told you about last week.

Our annual Women in Business Seminar is next week at the Brooks – Feb. 23 to be exact. We talk with our panelists to get the discussion started leading into next week’s event.

The Memphis Open underway since Saturday at the Racquet Club in East Memphis with a new champion set to emerge on Sunday.

A public memorial for Marvell Thomas Friday evening at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music from 7-10 p.m.

Future opens his national “Nobody Safe” tour at FedExForum May 4.

The Fed chair starting to see a risk in delaying a tightening of credit.

Wholesale prices nationally were up in January.

Aetna and Humana have called off their $34 billion merger.

The maker of a genetic muscle deterioration drug has halted the rollout of the drug after a bad reaction to the plans to charge $89,000 a year for it here when you can get it for $1,000 a year overseas.

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367