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VOL. 132 | NO. 36 | Monday, February 20, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The List and Who Is On It, Lovell's Impact and Fountain Brook Recovers

By Bill Dries

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A list of 81 people who can’t come to City Hall without a police escort includes a lot of names from the last year of protests and marches in the city. And as the week begins, the list is under review by Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings at the request of Mayor Jim Strickland.

We’ve taken the list and broken it down by what we know from covering the different movements about who the names are. This looks like it began with Strickland reacting to a December “die-in” protest in his front yard by a group of about a dozen people. Strickland said some of the protesters not only came on his property but were also looking in the windows of his home.

So he signed a formal complaint listing people who had trespassed on his property. It’s something businesses frequently do in the event someone they don’t want on the property returns. Strickland's list includes 30 names in all and it's not clear why many were included.

Soon thereafter Memphis Police running the security detail at City Hall put all of those people on a list that requires them to have a police escort with them if they come to City Hall for any reason. And from Strickland’s statement Saturday saying Rallings would review the list, it sounds like Strickland wasn’t aware of the City Hall list. The day after the January protest blocking the entrance to the Valero refinery in South Memphis, more people from that protest were added to the City Hall list – this time without an accompanying authorization from Strickland.

It’s been about six weeks since the Shelby County Fire Department, and by extension county government, got in the ambulance business – as the county dropped its contract with AMR when AMR said the service to the unincorporated county, Lakeland, Arlington and Millington was going to cost more. Now, AMR has filed notice with the state that it intends to close its Memphis office, laying off 175 people.

Shelby County Commissioners take up medical marijuana a few months after their debate on allowing non-criminal tickets for possession of half an ounce of pot or less and voting that measure down. The medical marijuana discussion Monday is around whether the commission should endorse a bill in the Tennessee Legislature.

Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, has reported extensively on the medical marijuana bill in what is an eventful session. At the start of the week in the capitol, Stockard reports last week's sudden exit of Shelby County state Rep. Mark Lovell appears to be far from over for the Legislature even though it didn’t take long for Lovell to box up his stuff and leave town. He left ahead of more details about the allegation of improper sexual contact at one of the numerous legislative receptions around Nashville.

Also in the Shelby delegation, state Senator Brian Kelsey is taking a break on his school voucher bill although he tells us the Legislature will pass a voucher bill this year. Another voucher bill had the votes in the Senate but not in the House.

And it looks like California’s travel ban to states like Tennessee with laws allowing counselors to refuse their services to LGBT clients has a loophole that means the NCAA basketball playoffs at the Forum next month probably won’t be involved.

It isn’t true that a third of Tennessee’s high school seniors who graduated in 2015 failed to meet graduation requirements. When the Tennessee Department of Education cited that in January following the release of a report, lots of school system superintendents across the state began crying foul. It turns out the percentage doesn’t take into account entering the incorrect course code, waivers of the requirement and human error.

The state’s new commissioner of economic and community development comes from Nashville’s health care industry. Bob Rolfe comes to the post Randy Boyd is leaving – probably to return to politics in 2018 as a candidate for governor – from being chairman and CEO of Medical Reimbursements of America.

A closer look at new homes sales in Shelby County in 2016 by the numbers and maps of Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The Fountain Brook development in Cordova had the most new-home starts for the year – a subdivision that got started just in time for the housing market crash and went into foreclosure is now in the fifth year of being built out. The story also includes a Chandler Reports survey of the Belle Meade section of East Memphis.

Efforts to rebuild once thriving areas of Memphis remain slow, tedious and more complex the more economic downturns push those areas deeper into a field of obstacles. But it looks like our efforts in this regard recognize that no two areas of this diverse city are the same. In the case of North Memphis, it doesn’t take long to learn that the general area is a mosaic of different neighborhoods – each of them with a unique character. There’s a new effort beginning there with a $1 million technical assistance grant announced last week for a coalition of North Memphis groups. And one of the hopes is that North Memphis come back with a version of its unique mix of residential and manufacturing of some kind.

Experts for MAAR – the Memphis Area Association of Realtors – got together last week downtown with a commercial real estate forecast for the year ahead. Among the highlights: small business growth reflected in the industrial sector, Downtown’s office submarket expected to grow as office density increases further east, cautious optimism with hotels as there is still no large convention center hotel that the market wants, restaurants the most active retailers and more renters for the multifamily sector.

The HR chief of ServiceMaster took a long road to Memphis with lots of scenery including oil fields in Wyoming in the depths of winter and being the granddaughter of a coal miner. Susan Hunsberger is the keynote speaker at our annual Women In Business Seminar Thursday at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. She also leads off the cover story by Don Wade on the topic in our weekly, The Memphis News.

Robert Cray is no stranger of Memphis Music. For years the Memphis Horns – Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love – were an integral part of his blues sound. Cray’s newest album is out April 28. It was recorded at Royal in South Memphis with another Memphis sound institution – the Hi Rhythm Section.

Lots of music notes in our look at the week ahead.

Kraft Heinz is trying to buy Unilever, which has its biggest ice cream plant to our north in Covington. So far Unilever has rejected the attempt, calling the current offer too low.

Wells Fargo continues to pay the price for its practice of saddling customers with additional accounts without their knowledge to meet sales goals.

The Memphis News Almanac: Eric Trump's Pledge to St. Jude, Local Salaries 20 Years Ago and Le Bonheur Record After the Tobey Unit Closes.

PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783