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VOL. 132 | NO. 146 | Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Old Auto Inspection Station, Beale Field Trip and Re-Democrating

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton has a different version of his 2016 plan to build two youth development centers for juvenile offenders to go to instead of detention at the Wilder Youth Development Center in Somerville. About a year ago, Herenton had tentative plans for two of the New Path centers in Shelby County that would be centers where the offenders could live.

This time around he wants to use the city’s old auto inspection station Downtown, just a stone’s throw away from Juvenile Court to get at least a temporary start on this. That is the broad outline of the plan Herenton will take to the Memphis City Council Tuesday afternoon. The property is owned by the city of Memphis.

The new plan came up in our conversation Monday with Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael about the end of federal oversight of the court that he and County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Sheriff Bill Oldham are seeking. Michael had plenty to say about that. And much of it was critical of the monitors who are part of the memorandum of agreement made in 2012 following a scathing Justice Department report on court conditions – most notably due process issues and disproportionate minority contact. Michael’s interview with us also targets other critics.

Here’s the rest of council day Tuesday at City Hall with a council vote on the Overton Gateway development as the dominant piece of business.

A follow up to our story about state Sen. Lee Harris’s call to suspend local permits for water wells at the site of the new TVA plant. Harris’s call is part of the reaction to high levels of lead and arsenic found in groundwater below the existing TVA plant on the other side of the road from the construction site. The Shelby County Groundwater Control Board announced Monday it will schedule a public hearing on the matter in early August. MLGW had independent tests done on water from 10 wells in the area and found no arsenic or lead in the water at detectable levels either in the wells or in treated water going into the MLGW system for distribution.

Meanwhile, here is the tale of the Beale Street Task Force’s two hours on Beale Street Saturday night after 11 p.m., where they encountered pot smoking, line dancing and lines – lot of lines.

As promised when last we met, more on the reorganization of the Shelby County Democratic Party from the weekend convention and forward to next month’s election of party chairman … and some choice words from the old party’s leading dissident, parliamentary wizard and gadfly in general.

From “Behind The Headlines,” the idea that the Memphis 3.0 plan that is still under development is a move toward “a culture of planning” in the city and a reversal of ongoing random development and pursuit of economic development projects. In some ways this may be just as important as whatever projects wind up in the citywide master plan for development of different and diverse communities. The plan in whatever form it takes still leaves an open question about what political leaders of the future will do when site consultants for something not in the plan come calling offering jobs and investment for incentives.

No plea deals in state cases in which felons are charged with possession of guns. That was part of a push Monday by a group of elected leaders including Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, District Attorney General Amy Weirich, acting U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi, Police Director Michael Rallings and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner. What is being called the “Fed Up” campaign comes after last week’s latest monthly crime stats from the Crime Commission showing an almost 10 percent increase in major violent crime – citywide and countywide – from the first six months of 2016. Much of that increase is from a spike in aggravated assaults as the murder rate citywide and countywide has dropped from the same period a year ago. Look for a “Fed Up” ad campaign.

Edge Alley opens Wednesday.

An accounting firm from Memphis and another from Chattanooga merge next week and the combined company will be in Memphis on Kirby Parkway.

GTx Inc. of Memphis on the road to Florence, Italy to make the case for its development of the drug enobosarm and its uses in treating Stress Urinary Incontinence. Along the way, the company’s executive chairman says GTx is “severely undervalued.”

The new district attorney general for the Jackson, Tennessee area is Jody S. Pickens, a University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law alum who was appointed interim DA Friday by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Haslam’s next appointment could well be a new Shelby County Circuit Court Judge.

A lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court over the rights of same sex couples who have children born through artificial insemination is dismissed and the plaintiffs claim it as a victory while the state says that law advocating “one-man, one-woman marriage” didn’t do anything at all legally.

A look ahead at what the Fed is likely to do toward a goal of price stability at its meeting this week.

Meanwhile, national home sales fell in June on a low inventory which also meant surging prices.

PROPERTY SALES 39 202 12,960
MORTGAGES 25 110 8,113
BUILDING PERMITS 114 645 30,579
BANKRUPTCIES 37 122 6,186