VOL. 132 | NO. 34 | Thursday, February 16, 2017
Last Word: Lovell's Aftermath, West Memphis Tourism and Batter Up
By Bill Dries
Political turbulence in the state capitol this week centered on one of the newest members of the Shelby County Delegation leaves the politically-minded among us with a lot to take in when you add the Beltway turbulence of the week in D.C.
Mark Lovell’s exit from the state House seat he had for six weeks remains a big deal in the state capitol this week, with Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris calling for an investigation into Lovell’s hasty resignation Tuesday after Lovell talked with the House Republican Caucus leader. Lovell is saying he was forced out by his caucus. And Harris wants to know if this was with the intent of sweeping the details under the rug. Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, talked with House Republican caucus leader Ryan Williams who says he talked to Lovell Monday privately and said if the allegation of inappropriate touching was true then he would ask Lovell to resign.
Back here, we await the Governor’s writ declaring a vacancy in the Legislature that will determine when the special primary elections are and then the general election for the District 95 seat. But it’s probable whoever gets the interim appointment from the Shelby County Commission will serve most if not all of the current session underway now in Nashville.
With the deadline for filing legislation past, the pace quickens and the larger themes of the session become more prominent. And one of those issues is outsourcing. In his “View From The Hill” column, Stockard looks specifically at the idea of outsourcing parts of the state park system – Fall Creek Falls State Park, north of Chattanooga and east of Nashville in particular.
Protesters crashed a press conference hosted by the Republican sponsors of a new bathroom bill and the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” Wednesday in Nashville. The Nashville Scene’s report.
Meanwhile, here in Memphis at 201 Poplar, police and sheriff’s deputies turned out in force on the lower level of the CJC for court dates of two of the protesters arrested last month for blocking the driveway of the Valero refinery in South Memphis.
The Grizz almost come back Wednesday from a beat down at the Forum but the game ultimately goes to the New Orleans Pelicans 95 – 91.
Tigers in Connecticut Thursday to play the Huskies
In the shadow of the Exchange Building, across a courtyard from the Goodwyn Condos at Madison and Second is a narrow four-story building that has drawn the attention of the west coast company that is already doing two hotels in the Downtown area. Wessman wants to do apartments over retail on the ground floor and basement. It was among the items that got the green light earlier this week from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp.
More details about the Shelby County Schools plan around 19 “critical focus” schools including a set of 10 summer study camps being developed that will go four hours in the morning and four in the afternoon. And more on the good first reviews along with questions from school board members. The questions are pretty detailed stuff that comes with considering the map of schools in the system and their proximity to other kinds of schools – charters and ASD schools in particular.
In the fourth months since the Big River Crossing opened to those on bicycles and those on foot, the bicycle traffic has found its way beyond the crossing itself and into West Memphis proper on the other side of the levee. Pancho’s being across from the West Memphis Big River Trail Head has helped make it a popular destination for those coming off the crossing and following the trail.
And with little fanfare, construction began some time ago on the five miles of trails on the Arkansas Mississippi River Flood Plain. That’s the flat farm fields you see to your right once you reach the West Memphis side of the boardwalk coming from Memphis.
As we’ve reported, some of the West Memphis merchants have been taking a wait and see attitude on what the impact will be on their businesses from all of this. But there are others in West Memphis who have been working for some time on what happens when you cross the river. That includes the newly-formed West Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In Cordova, this is a busy time leading into the baseball season. We are talking about the area around the Game Day complex. And the Memphis Baseball Academy has some new technology to help batters with their swings. Grip it and rip it gives way to swing planes.
Sixth District U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin who has been interim House Budget Committee chairman since Tom Price was nominated for the Trump cabinet is a lock to become the permanent budget committee chairman. So from our Tennessee delegation, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and U.S Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis is on House Judiciary and is ranking Democrat on the Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee. He was also just appointed to the House Ethics Committee and is on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, the group that determines what issues the Democratic caucus will pursue in Congress.
Humana exits the federal health care insurance exchanges including the one in Tennessee – fallout from the earlier decision by Humana and Aetna to abandon their proposed merger.
January numbers from retail nationally: consumer prices rise at the fastest pace in four years and retail sales are up overall as auto sales fall but we spend more at gas stations and restaurants.
The Memphis Real Estate Roundup reviews three tenant build-outs at Crosstown Concourse and The Continental Apartments high rise sells for $2.3 million.
From Hollywood Wednesday, word that HBO has set an April 22 premiere for its adaptation of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the book by Rebecca Skloot, who taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis as one of several stops while freelancing and writing books. Entertainment Weekly has the details on what is an Oprah Winfrey project.