VOL. 132 | NO. 117 | Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Last Word: After the Last Hole, Cutting County Property Taxes and A Recycled Gown
By Bill Dries
The story of how the Overton Park Conservancy raised $1 million in two months didn’t go according to the script. It wasn’t large donors, it was a lot of contributions of $250 or less it turns out, many from people who have never been to the park, the zoo or the greensward in particular whether it’s on foot or in a car. There were donations from Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and every state, except South Dakota.
For many of you Monday was the day after Southwind. And it was the perfect opportunity for Don Wade to look at the impact of the 60-year old FedEx St. Jude Golf Classic, a Memphis institution that is thriving in changing and challenging times for such events. There have been more than a few looks over the shoulder among the folks who do this for a living at the recently departed Memphis Open tennis tournament that is gone after 41 years. When we talked with Fred Jones, the founder of the Southern Heritage Classic, a few weeks ago about this, he told us that when he started the classic in 1989 it was a sports events. The times have changed – not just here but everywhere – and now it’s more entertainment although the Jackson State-Tennessee State football rivalry is the bedrock of it – the tradition of it around which everything else revolves.
For those who have missed The Curb Market on Cooper, Wednesday is the day it reopens in Crosstown Concourse as an 8,500 square foot market with an in-house butcher shop. That is four times the size of the old Easy Way that was a temporary home as Crosstown was rebuilt for its new life. The Curb Market is owned by Peter Schutt, who also owns this newspaper and the farms that raise the vegetables and meat at the market.
Mike Dunavant, the District Attorney General for five counties north and east of us is President Donald Trump’s pick to be the new U.S. Attorney for west Tennessee between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. And the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Monday that Trump is having state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville vetted for possible appointment as a federal court judge. Norris has been building the foundation since last year for a bid for the Republican nomination for Governor on the 2018 ballot.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen wants a Justice Department investigation of the Eric Trump Foundation and those charity outings for St. Jude at his father’s golf courses.
At St. Jude last week, several hundred medical professionals including researchers, physicians and nurses from around the world gathered to talk about life and death and dealing with both.
It was called a “Pediatric Palliative Oncology Symposium” – the largest of its kind to be held in the states. A decade ago this was about children who were near the end of their lives and the issues were the quality of their care over about 42 days. Now it is a six-month period of care and most of the patients have some hope of recovery. Parents who have had that hope and lost it were also at the conference to talk with doctors about how to better communicate with parents when the news is good and when it is not.
Plenty of politics over the weekend from the end of early voting in state House District 95, with 2,700 early votes, to the annual Sidney Chism political picnic. And a word to the wise about where to vote on election day in District 95 – there’s been a change at three of the polling places because of events already booked there before Mark Lovell resigned in February and started all of this. So the Shelby County Election Commission has move those three polling places to sites – two in Collierville and one in Germantown – used during the early voting period.
And what’s that in the distance where the fall leaves have fallen and the school year is underway? It’s the Arlington ballot.
Usually, a vote on a cut in the property tax rate – city or county – would be the center of attention at a county commission or city council meeting. Not so Monday as the County Commission approved a three-cent property tax rate cut on the first of three readings but punted passage of an operating budget to two weeks from now.
The biggest debate Monday for the commission was a contract for private security guards at county buildings and facilities that the commission rejected and ordered rebid late last year. At issue is the commission’s desire to see standards for awarding contracts to minority and locally owned businesses used. And Monday that was pitted against what would happen to the Memphians employed by the out of town security company that would lose the contract.
Meanwhile, the Fed gets ready to raise the interest rate and make things really interesting in DC this week.
Speaking of Washington, federal tax revenue is rising but not as fast as spending. The federal budget deficit took a jump in May.
We got a very pleasant surprise Monday from Amanda Johnson of A Johnson Photography, just to our east in Jackson, a photographer who made a paper gown entirely out of copies of The Memphis News and shared some photos of model Lauren Everett wearing it. In her message to us Monday, AJ says the gown is one of a kind. The opinion around our office Monday is that AJ and Lauren are also one of a kind. And while some may see this as kind of away from our basic mission, we are honored by this creative tribute to a publication that turned nine years old this month and a work place where we also believe in recycling.