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VOL. 132 | NO. 140 | Monday, July 17, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Rachel Heck, Beale Street's Cover and The Old Peabody

By Bill Dries

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The “fifth wave” of judicial appointments by President Donald Trump, as The White House termed them, are already causing some political ripples here primarily from state Senator Mark Norris’s appointment to the federal bench.

The most immediate is that state House speaker Beth Harwell formally announced her candidacy for governor Sunday in the Republican primary now that Norris is out of the running. There were some thoughts before this that Norris and Harwell might cancel each other out or draw from the same constituencies and donors. To me, the most important factor was that the bad blood between the leaders of the two chambers probably would have surfaced in the primary skirmish.

More on the governor’s race in the Tuesday edition and in this same spot when we next meet.

As the weekend began, confirmation that the move of Thomas & Betts out of Southwind to Ridgeway Center in East Memphis, announced at the end of June, will also include the R&D function of parent company ABB Group’s electrification products division. It will also include an application for a PILOT that showed up on the EDGE – Economic Development Growth Engine – agenda Friday along with an announcement from the state. Here are the details including a run down of the musical corporate chairs involved in this move. The Ridgeway Center site T&B is moving into has been the home of ServiceMaster, which is moving to Peabody Place Mall. And Sedgwick is moving into T&B’s place in Southwind.

A rising sophomore at St. Agnes turned plenty of heads this weekend at the U.S. Women’s Golf Open, where 15-year old Rachel Heck made the cut. She finished the tournament Sunday at 2-over when she shot even par 72 for a second consecutive day. Here is the Golfweek story on Heck going into the open. And here is the Washington Post story. In case you are wondering, a 12-year old qualified for the Open in 2007. And Heck was paired with her – Lexi Thompson – in Sunday’s final round in New Jersey.

A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office narcotics officer already under indictment is charged with trying to have a witness killed in one of two shakedowns he is charged with.

Taxes at the top of The Week Ahead – as in an important debate at the Shelby County Commission Monday that should go a long way toward setting the county property tax rate. But it won’t be a final vote. Here’s the rest of the week ahead, which does include some stuff a bit more fun than taxes. I know. Some of you are wondering what that could possibly be.

The week ahead includes an unusual Saturday night meeting at the end of this week by the Beale Street Task Force. That is the group looking into alternatives to the cover charge the entertainment district has had for the past two summers on Saturday nights after 10. So the board will be on Beale Saturday night starting at around 11. That cover charge and Saturday nights on Beale are the subject of this week’s cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News. It’s a controversy with deep roots it turns out. And some extra on-line only content from three consecutive Saturdays on Beale after 10… actually after midnight too. Yes, a zydeco version of “Burning Love.”

Leonard Gill, the recently retired editor, writer and book editor for The Memphis Flyer and Memphis magazine, died Sunday afternoon, we learned from those who worked with him over a lot of years. His influence on other journalists and writers as well as his ability to maintain the standards that are at the core of the best writing and reporting are the lasting contributions he made to those he worked with and those who read what he wrote and what he edited.

“Good momentum” is how First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan characterizes a quarter that saw the largest merger in the banking company’s history and a net income increase of 61 percent. That’s not just modesty on Jordan’s part. It might also be caution kicking in because he also told analysts on the earnings call that the national economic backdrop is static – “hasn’t changed significantly over the last four, five, six years.”

Calling it “summer school” just doesn’t begin to describe what is happening around town since the traditional school year ended in May. Around 10,000 children are participating in summer learning programs across the city in what Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says is a record-breaking number. More from Chalkbeat on the effort that is much more than remedial work. It is an effort toward reversing “summer learning loss.”

No early release from prison in Mississippi for Daniel Cummings, the Ole Miss student from Germantown serving time for the 2006 killing of University of Mississippi police officer Robert Langley. Cummings pleaded guilty to manslaughter a year later for the dragging death.

The Tennessee Comptroller’s office is hacked.

The Tennessee Hospital Association comes out against the U.S. Senate’s health bill.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has a Democratic challenger in next year’s Senate race who has raised less than $500,000 since launching in April. James Mackler is a Nashville attorney and Army veteran of the 101st Airborne Division. It is early enough that there is some speculation since Corker hasn’t formally declared he is running again next year. Corker, nevertheless, has $6 million in his campaign account. One scenario floating around out there in lieu of a definitive statement from Corker is that he might run for Governor instead of re-election to the Senate. But for now, the assumption is Corker will run for another six-year term in the Senate where he is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Based on the reaction we’ve heard from some of you, this may be cause for celebration – confetti etc. A building permit has been pulled to start putting a new roof on the building on Wolfcreek Parkway that will be the home of the Memphis Dave & Buster’s. It is going to anchor The Commons of Wolfcreek on 2765 Wolfcreek Parkway which is near …. Wolfchase Galleria. WOLF. It’s where the Sports Authority store once was.

Inflation in check nationally by the latest numbers from June based on lower gas prices, lower airline tickets and wireless plans and car prices – new and used.

Speaking of airlines, on-time performance slipping a bit in the latest government numbers. And here are the rankings by airline based on their performance for May – ahead of vacation season.

The Memphis News Almanac: D’Army Bailey, the MPD’s Charlotte scandal, demolition of the original Peabody and expanding the Cossitt

PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593