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VOL. 132 | NO. 9 | Thursday, January 12, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Charter Schools Views, Capitol Hill Round Up & Explaining The Cold War

By Bill Dries

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Double trouble Wednesday in Oklahoma. The Grizz lose to the Thunder 103-95 in OKC. They are on their way to Houston for a Friday game before returning home Sunday for the MLK game against the Chicago Bulls at the Forum. Meanwhile Tigers lose to Tulsa Wednesday, also in Oklahoma, 81-71. They are back at the Forum Saturday to play South Florida.

As promised in our last meeting, more on Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings’s comments Tuesday on violent crime and comments from former Police Director Toney Armstrong on police recruitment that came close to stealing the show.

The other subject we are covering a lot of in the new year is education which is pretty typical for the new year since it is about the half way point in the school year. The national NAACP’s call for a moratorium on the use of charter schools has bolstered what was already a pretty robust discussion about charter schools and their role in education.

An NAACP committee was in Memphis Tuesday for one in a series of hearings they are undertaking across the country. What they encountered was a use of non profit charters – for-profit charters are forbidden by Tennessee law – that is unlike what they’ve seen or studied in other states. They also got some very clear and very different outlooks on what the rise of charters here means from some familiar faces in local education.

The money the city gets from red-light cameras has led to another round of city grants to various neighborhood groups who applied for the money. And what do most of those groups want – cameras.

Also in Digest, the state has streamlined its efforts to fight human trafficking and it includes four regional nongovernmental organizations to help the survivors after law enforcement does its job.

On Capitol Hill – Nashville:

In his “View From the Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, looks at the complexity of what sounded like a simple idea several years ago – collecting state sales tax on items bought by e-commerce. Out-of-state retailers with sales of more than $500,000 a year in the state have until March to register with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. And they have until July 1 to start sending the cash to Nashville. This happening is a long-held priority of Gov. Bill Haslam. But it’s not a done deal just yet. More precisely, it could become an un-done deal in the Legislature.

The biggest daily development Wednesday in the first week back at work for legislators is the filing of a bill whose sponsors include Germantown Republican state Senator Brian Kelsey to call for a state convention toward a U.S. Constitutional amendment that would require Congress approve a balanced federal budget each year.

What some are calling the “selfie bill” and others the “Justin Timberlake selfie bill” was to be filed Tuesday to overturn the state law that forbids photos at Tennessee polling places.

And there is a bill to put the phrase “In God We Trust” on Tennessee license plates.

In Little Rock, there is a plan in the Legislature there to delay the launch of medical marijuana.

On Washington’s Capitol Hill, things are still getting organized as well. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander remains as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee for a second consecutive Congress. This is one of the key stops any move to abolish Obamacare will have to make on its way to a vote on the Senate floor.

The new director of Literacy Mid-South talks about how he came to the literacy fight in Memphis and the way forward for the organization that has made its mark as a provider and catalyst for multiple efforts across a city that has much need.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center expands its drug development and manufacturing capacity through its Plough Center as the center has a new director. The director has been developing life-saving drugs for the last 30 years. The center’s second facility in the Medical District is just about complete in a district that has been all about new construction on various fronts in recent years.

Sometimes the past and the present have a way of showing up at the same time and impressing us with the contrast. That was the case Tuesday evening. The PBS show “American Experience” aired a highly anticipated film on the 1980 nuclear missile silo explosion at Damascus, Ark.“Command and Control.” But it was delayed a bit for live coverage of President Obama’s farewell speech.

The documentary is a reminder that presidents make policies and go in directions that have consequences with a life well beyond their relatively short time in power.

The speech alongside the examination of what happened in rural Arkansas 36 years ago at what was then a Cold War bastion impressed me with what a different world we live in today and how strange the world of 1980 must seem to those with no memory of the times or the causes and what that meant for the daily lives in a small farming community.

If you saw the documentary, you know that visually it put you in the times and in the moment especially when it came to the central event that put the disaster in motion. And here is a look from the producer of how they did that.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap has details on more of the ServiceMaster build-out at Peabody Place.

Meanwhile, the owner of Tsunami the restaurant is now the owner of the Cooper-Young building that has been the restaurant’s home for nearly 20 years.

A Pew Research Center survey on the “Ferguson effect” among police officers shows three-quarters of those surveyed said they are hesitant to use force and are less willing to stop and question those they suspect of doing something wrong.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028