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VOL. 132 | NO. 4 | Thursday, January 5, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Convention Center Hotel, The Crime Discussion and A Gas Tax Hike Plan

By Bill Dries

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Grizzlies fall to the Clippers 115-106 in Los Angeles. They play Golden State Friday in another West Coast road game.

During the California sojourn, Chandler Parsons turned up on the tabloid TV show TMZ clubbing in the general vicinity of Kendall Jenner after New Year’s Eve with Kate Beckinsale.

I am so conflicted by doing that that I’m not even going to link to Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel being affectionate courtside at the Lakers game.

Plans for a new convention center hotel surface with Denver hotel consultant Robert Swerdling saying he has a line on $180 million in private financing to build at Front and Poplar on the site of the Mud Island River Park parking garage. It's at least 600 rooms which is just what tourism and convention planners have been talking about for years as a bigger priority than the flood of smaller hotel projects in other parts of Downtown.

As promised in our last installment, more from what is turning into a considerable discussion of crime in Memphis built around former Mayor Willie Herenton’s declaration that the city’s violent crime problem is a “black problem.” City Council member Janis Fullilove disagrees with Herenton and solicited the opinion of Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings who had an interesting answer. The story also includes a reaction to media reports about a social media meme predicting problems New Year’s Eve at a movie theater.

Meanwhile, New York City recorded the lowest crime rate since the police department began using CompStat crime tracking more than 20 years ago. And that is certain to come into play in our own discussion here in Memphis. The Wall Street Journal story on this points to better use of technology there, focusing police resources on violent crimes and a targeted effort aimed at gangs. And the drop coincides with the end of the NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk policy. The NYC police commissioner telling the WSJ, “We’ve redefined what it means to be a police officer in New York.”

Nikkei reports former Tennessee Economic and Community Development director Bill Hagerty is about to become U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Hagerty has served on the Trump transition team.

In less than a week in Nashville, the Tennessee Legislature will open its 2017 session and Oak Ridge Republican Randy McNally will become the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate. He tells our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, this week that Gov. Bill Haslam will likely propose a modest hike in the state gas tax – enough to close the three-cent a gallon difference in the gas and diesel tax rates.

Haslam himself isn’t being specific. His comments are included in an overview of the session that touches on what to do with another budget surplus, school vouchers, outsourcing and guns.

These two pieces kick-off what will be more extensive daily coverage of the Legislature by Sam as well as Associated Press. What happens in the capital matters in Memphis.

Sam’s “View From The Hill” column will continue. This week the column is a look at what has happened since the Legislature decriminalized cannabis oil for medical purposes in 2015 and why the sponsors of a pending bill say their medical marijuana bill is a specific, tightly controlled second act of that effort.

In the Arkansas Legislature, a move expected to modify the terms of that state’s Medicaid expansion ahead of efforts in Washington to dismantle Obamacare.

Changes in the cabinet of Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson with the leader of the Innovation Zone Schools taking on broader responsibilities.

The Germantown Trader Joe’s is going from an outparcel by the old Kroger store on Exeter to the Kroger building itself and as a result developers say they should be able to move up the opening date.

More details on what was going on in advance of Tuesday’s announcement about the closing of Booksellers at Laurelwood.

The Daily Traveler, Lance Wiedower, on the value of a bucket list.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap includes a $48 million sale of Germantown Park, the office park at Germantown Parkway and Walnut Grove Road in Cordova.

The credit scores you can buy as a consumer are not the ones lenders use in making credit decisions and the ads suggesting they are the same are costing two of the big three credit reporting agencies $23 million.

Fed minutes show there could be an acceleration in rate hikes.

A forecast five days into 2017 for homeowners.

Year-end auto sales figures.

And Comcast has an updated router for home wi-fi.

PROPERTY SALES 21 82 6,474
MORTGAGES 7 53 4,088
BUILDING PERMITS 240 353 15,714
BANKRUPTCIES 38 58 3,328