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VOL. 132 | NO. 7 | Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Opening Day in Nashville, Parking Pass or Parking Space and Ell Persons

By Bill Dries

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Lots of formalities Tuesday in Nashville where the 2017 session of the Tennessee Legislature begins. And that’s what this first week back will be about on the floors of the state House and the state Senate. Away from the floors, the real business of speculation and vote counting and drafting language is already well underway.

A few changes to note. The Shelby County legislative delegation has two new members – Republican Mark Lovell and Democrat Dwayne Thompson – both in the state House.

The major change in the legislative leadership is Oak Ridge Republican Randy McNally succeeding Ron Ramsey as Lt. Governor and Senate Speaker.

Stay tuned because our coverage of the legislature will ramp up this year with our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard as well as the Capitol Hill gang at the Associated Press.

Shelby County Commissioners have sent a partial wish list to the Legislature with a vote Monday and more work on some other parts of the legislative package in committee next week – those are items the group of 13 cannot reach unanimous consent on like the medical marijuana bill.

The commission’s first meeting of 2017 Monday also included an extension of attorney Julian Bolton’s contract as the commission’s attorney. The commission doesn’t call it that. But that’s what the job is. Meanwhile, the commission is a bit less than unanimous about continuing down the road of an issue that is a conflict with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. Monday’s result found seven votes – just the number needed and no more – to approve the contract.

If you work or live Downtown one of the first items on the checklist is to find out where there is parking. I’ve seen the maps from the Downtown Memphis Commission and fully understand the numbers and the data. But parking is still a factor, I believe, because it requires an adjustment from other parts of the city where the emphasis on parking is different.

Some employers offer free parking to employees to the point that it’s often assumed that comes with the job.

Innovate Memphis is , with some federal funding through the state, promoting the idea that some employers offer incentives going the other way – free bus passes.

The pilot phase of this is starting with some small to medium-sized businesses.

This May a grim centennial will be observed in a field behind a row of businesses along Summer Avenue just south of Shelby Oaks. May will mark 100 years since a crowd estimated at 5,000 people watched as Ell Persons was burned alive by a mob that took him from a train on his way back to Memphis to stand trial for murder.

The event is part of a larger effort to mark the sites of several dozen lynchings in Shelby County and the group has hired John Ashworth who led the effort to call attention to the 1940 murder of Elbert Williams of Brownsville. Williams was organizing an NAACP chapter in Brownsville at the time of his death.

In Williams' case there was more known about him than Persons. But Ashworth tells us Williams’ murder was a trauma that kept those who knew him and those who knew what happened silent for decades. And that, he says, is why these incidents are important in the here and now.

The effort is part and parcel of a movement to reclaim and redefine a lost history that began last year with the move to erect a marker on Downtown’s south end to the 1866 Memphis Massacre – several days of mob violence including the Memphis Police Department in which more than 40 African-Americans died violently and every black church and school in the city was burned to the ground.

A little more than a year after his death, Peter Bowman is being remembered with an exhibition of his paintings at the Memphis College of Art. Bowman was a graduate of MCA shortly after the college moved into the Roy Harrover gem in Overton Park. Bowman is probably best known for his long tenure of 29 years as a teacher at Memphis University School where he influenced countless students.

In North Memphis Monday evening, Achievement School District leaders had the first of two meetings this week in the area for students, parents and teachers of the two ASD schools that Gestalt Community Schools is pulling out of at the end of the current school year.

At Klondike Elementary, where Monday’s meeting was held, there is no other charter group coming in to run the school. So it will close. It’s students have several options including being zoned to nearby Vollentine Elementary School, the conventional SCS school.

The Wednesday meeting at Humes is expected to be a different matter. It will be an introduction to Frayser Community Schools, the charter group that runs MLK Prep High School in Frayser for the ASD and has applied to run Humes next school year.

Don Wade on the Grizz win Sunday over the Utah Jazz.

Graceland’s racquetball court is making a comeback after some years being what is considered Elvis’s post-life trophy room. It’s part of the changes coming to Graceland with its expansion to a 200,000 square foot entertainment complex across Elvis Presley Boulevard in Whitehaven, including the largest Elvis museum in the world. And yes Nashville, they are coming for the Sun Records stuff you guys have been using.

High speed internet in rural Tennessee, Scott County to be specific.

A Fed governor says thus far low interest rates haven’t prompted across the board excessive risk-taking that produces things like housing bubbles.

U.S. consumer borrowing numbers for November show the pace of increased borrowing is the fastest it has been in three months.

McDonald’s sells its China business for $2.1 billion to a group of Chinese investors including a state-owned conglomerate.

The holiday season was a rough one for department stores and we are seeing some of the price to be paid for that ala The Limited. But the overall shopping season got help from e-commerce.

The cost of raising a child is estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as $233,610 from birth through the age of 17, which is about $14,000 a year. Your results may vary and continue past 17 including college.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597