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VOL. 132 | NO. 25 | Friday, February 3, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: De-Annexation Theories, Clash on School Vouchers and Garth & Trisha

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and his administration come up with some surprises in de-annexation recommendations to the city task force on the issue. The three most recently annexed areas of Memphis were considered likely to be in the recommendations. Although the indication last year was that this would take a lot of discussion before someone actually wrote that on a Power Point presentation at City Hall. Not only did Strickland do that – he also included four other areas.

Our story includes the full city presentation Thursday to the task force -- maps and numbers for each area.

Some of this is about de-annexing parts of larger areas that are split between the city and unincorporated county now that future annexations are highly unlikely to happen with the state law that requires approval by referendum of those to be annexed.

That is the case in Eads. And Cordova has long been the case. The South Cordova area in the recommendations is larger than the South Cordova area annexed in 2012. This takes in areas of Cordova annexed by Memphis in 1984 in order to do away with the city-county split within some subdivisions.

But it seems unlikely at the outset that this will turn into a gradual move to take all of Cordova out of the city.

This isn’t a formal proposal by City Hall’s 7th floor. It is a recommendation for further discussion.

And City COO Doug McGowen as well as Strickland, when we talked with him earlier in the day Thursday, made it clear the population density is driving these considerations. Where that density is less, the consideration is for the city to turn loose. The bottom land in southwest Memphis is uninhabited and the northernmost part of Frayser on the list has a single home on it with three people.

A caveat is that there be no “doughnut holes” – areas of de-annexed unincorporated county surrounded by the city.

Even before the passage of the annexation by referendum law, past councils during Willie Herenton’s tenure as mayor and even Herenton himself had begun to question further annexations and their impact on city services.

But at least some on the council are likely to be conflicted by de-annexation because of the strong instinct in state and local government to never, ever give up a revenue stream without a replacement at the very least.

This is going to be an interesting decision after years of general calls to plump the city’s density.

Strickland is our guest on “Behind The Headlines.” And he dropped some hints about the de-annexation recommendations to come just a few hours after we recorded the show Thursday morning. It was the very last question on the half hour interview that starts with crime and moves to other issues from there. “Behind The Headlines” airs at 7 p.m Friday on WKNO.

Consider the conversation about crime a supplement across media lines to the cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, that parses the city’s record homicide count in 2016. There are the statistics, the demographics, the percentages and we hope a good deal of light shed on how hard it is to come to grips with a set of 228 violent deaths – no two of them exactly the same no matter what categories they may fit into. And there is an eloquence in some of the frustration we encountered as well.

A PDF of the complete issue is up now on this website. The hard copies hit the streets Friday morning with the cover story going up on this website Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, the deal for Walgreens to buy Rite-Aid stores had a deadline pushed back leaving questions about Memphis-based Fred’s buying several hundred Rite-Aid stores from Walgreens.

Now comes word that the number of stores to be bought by Fred’s could go up. It depends on how many of the Rite-Aid stores Walgreens is required by the government to divest in order to win approval of this deal with a lot of moving parts.

New voices this week and new images for our city’s very unique history of protest. That was the story of the immigration travel ban march Wednesday evening. And there are indications those pushing for different causes are beginning to come together on some issues.

In the Tennessee Legislature:

It isn’t unusual at all for legislators in the Shelby County delegation to Nashville to disagree. But Democratic state Rep. Antonio Parkinson describes Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey’s school voucher bill as “insulting, both personally and professionally.”

Alternatives to Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax bill start to take shape and yes, those are the words “legislative strife” to describe the discussions on this.

Tigers beat South Florida 85-75 in Tampa Thursday. The Grizz on the road Friday in Oklahoma City.

In our Friday Sports Section:

As Marc Gasol prepares for the NBA’s All-Star festivities, Don Wade takes a look at how the U of M and Mississippi State football programs are faring in recruiting.

David Climer in Nashville reviews Dave Hart’s tenure as athletic director at Big Orange – warts and all.

Dave Link in Knoxville wonders as we enter Super Bowl weekend about whether you might be seeing Joshua Dobbs in a future Super Bowl.

And Terry McCormick in Titan-Town has a Super Bowl prediction … 31-27 … as he looks ahead to draft possibilities for the Titans.

The Shelby County Drug Court turns 20 years old and confronts the heroin problem – now the drug of choice for almost half of the defendants who come before General Sessions Court Judge Tim Dwyer.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood opened a set of four shows in three days Thursday at the Forum. They’ve been through here a lot in the last two years with appearances at St. Jude and homebuilding projects by Habitat for Humanity in North Memphis with former President Jimmy Carter.

As they met the press Thursday afternoon before sound check, Brooks said this trip is different and more on his terms. The first three of the shows sold out pretty quickly but the last show added, which was the first in the order, had only half of the 20,000 seat forum sold in advance.

All the better the energetic Brooks said, vowing to work the audience “like rented mules.”

Yearwood, who has explored the city’s food culture as well as our music culture, will be doing an episode of her Coffee Talk program from Memphis Saturday.

Brooks’ band includes Bobby Wood on keyboards, known here as one of the Memphis Boys, the house band at Chips Moman’s American Sound hit factory of the 1960s-70s at Chelsea and Danny Thomas, not too far from one of the Habitat houses Brooks helped build recently.

Wood has been one of the “G-Men,” as Brooks band is known, for 37 years starting with Brooks’ first album and Brooks said Thursday Wood will be featured on an upcoming live album.

A city-wide power outage Thursday evening south of the stateline in Oxford.

A follow-up to our story about Glen Fenter leaving as head of GMACW. Pauline Vernon is the interim leader of the workforce training alliance as a search for a new president is conducted. And Fenter will be around until the end of June as an advisor to the alliance.

Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store is a South Memphis institution. It’s also an example of how existing businesses on the South Memphis-Whitehaven corridor that have been holding on for a long time can thrive with the ongoing Graceland expansion and its ripple effect, including street improvements.

Champion’s along with another South Memphis business, Park Place Recycling and Logistics, are each getting $20,000 loans from EDGE to improve and expand.

There’s a new online platform for local fundraising called Local Soul.

Lots of economic numbers:

Unemployment claims nationally drop. So does productivity in the fourth quarter. The average 30-year mortgage rate unchanged.

PROPERTY SALES 128 234 13,285
MORTGAGES 80 152 8,323