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VOL. 132 | NO. 110 | Friday, June 2, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Recovery Day 6, Trezevant Allegations Resurface and Memphis Is Hard

By Bill Dries

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There is some debate about how the Memorial Day weekend storm compares to the Ice Storm of 1994 and Hurricane Elvis in 2003. A city public works supervisor who is a veteran of both earlier incidents weighed in this week as Mayor Jim Strickland stopped by Collins Yard to rally the city’s troops in the recovery effort. Rodney Wakefield also had a lot to say about what motivates city workers to tackle this hard work in a sweltering spring and do it as quickly and as safely as possible.

The top of the Crosstown tower is having some work done in advance of the August opening of Crosstown Concourse.

Reaction from Tennessee’s delegation to Washington on President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he talked with Trump and the administration several times before the announcement. He points out the Paris agreement is non-binding. “On the other hand, legitimate concerns have been raised about the likelihood of domestic interest groups using the agreement to file lawsuits in an effort to halt the repeal of regulations which, while being litigated, would stifle economic growth here at home. I appreciate the president's desire to renegotiate an agreement that is more in line with what is achievable in a manner that promotes an increase in the standard of living of American citizens and protects our environment. I stand ready to work with him toward that end.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis termed the decision “a backslide on U.S. and global climate goals” and “a neglect of leadership by the Trump administration.”

“The President’s decision to retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement could prove to be a calamitous decision to humanity. Without action, the continued effects of climate change will lead to increased instances of natural disasters, severe drought and famine across the globe that could result in humanitarian crises and war. Withdrawal from the agreement means turning our backs on protecting against the loss of coastal cities, beaches and habitats, as well as on goals for waste reduction and resource recovery.”

As this is posted, no reaction from U.S. Rep. David Kustoff or U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on this.

Last fall, the Trezevant High School football team was to forfeit several games as Shelby County Schools investigated a discrepancy between grades for some student athletes in their transcripts and what was recorded on other student records. But just as suddenly as the potential scandal went public, it went silent after three games were forfeited. The principal of Trezevant during the school year that ended a week ago announced his resignation Thursday in a single-spaced six-page letter that went public as school officials got it. And Ronnie Mackin is alleging that he was made the scapegoat for a grade changing scandal that the school system wants covered up. The school system followed that closely with a statement saying Mackin wanted two years of severance pay and went public when he didn’t get it. The school system also says Mackin couldn’t back his “defamatory” allegations with names and facts.

Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones says his event and others on the Memphis calendar long enough to be institutions are Memphis success stories that get us over the perception that it’s too hard to do such things in Memphis. And Jones tells us now is the time to tout that success. In his case, the classic is 28 years old as of this September when Tennessee State and Jackson State play at the Liberty Bowl once again. But he also says the recently concluded Memphis In May International Festival and the FedEx St. Jude Golf Classic and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and the St. Jude Marathon are a package that can be easy to overlook if your metrics for judging success and economic impact are just visitors to the city. They each have a loyal Memphis following even if Memphians spend less in attending them than visitors do.

Our conversation with Jones about these events follows recent conversations with the leaders of some of the other annual events in this year of change in the schedule with the loss of the 41-year old Memphis Open tennis tournament.

Meanwhile a new name for the golf classic announced Thursday.

The Southaven D-League team for the Grizz is called “Memphis Hustle.” Shades of the Memphis Riverkings hockey team that kept Memphis in its name after it moved south of the border?

And the Tigers football home opener Aug. 31 is one of seven TV games.

In our Friday Sports Section: (Yes, there is more)

Thoughts on the basebrawl and Tiger Woods.

John Glennon on Willie Gault and his induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

David Climer on the Titans place in the weakest NFL division.

And SEC coaches in their spring meeting pan proposed NCAA recruiting reforms.

Early reviews on the first meniscus implant done by OrthoMemphis.

A new $2 million field hospital for International Medical Corps arrived at a FedEx warehouse in Memphis this week … in 130 crates. When it is assembled, the hospital covers a football field and can do surgeries as well as outpatient consultations. It can be self sufficient for a month in a natural disaster. But it didn’t work out that way when the Corps tried to deploy it for the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which is how FedEx got involved.

The cover story by Patrick Lantrip in our weekly, The Memphis News, is about the Clean Line – the wind and alternative energy pipeline that gained a lot of support locally across party lines pre-Trump and has since drawn opposition from U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

A PDF of the new edition of the weekly is up now on this website. The hard copies are in the racks Friday morning and the cover story goes up online Friday afternoon.

“Behind The Headlines” is a reporters’ roundtable on taxes, the end of public housing, police funding, Jeff Sessions and bringing rock shows back to the Liberty Bowl. Our guests are Bernal Smith Jr. of The New Tri-State Defender, Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal and Maya Smith of The Memphis Flyer. The show airs at 7 p.m. Friday on WKNO TV.

PROPERTY SALES 57 94 2,713
MORTGAGES 16 37 1,820
BUILDING PERMITS 303 621 6,322
BANKRUPTCIES 138 138 1,115