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VOL. 132 | NO. 126 | Monday, June 26, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Cooper-Young Complications, The Mackin Investigation and Tuition Hike

By Bill Dries

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Landmarks status for Cooper-Young is on hold because part of the process for the status isn’t an official part of the application process. That would be the part that requires a certain number of signatures to get the status. And it has put on hold a similar process in Vollintine-Evergreen.

Bring dinner. The Shelby County Commission meeting Monday could be a long one with lots of budget amendments to be presented and probably an attempt to change the county property tax rate a second time – actually, a third time if you count the certified rate. And there could be more said on all sides about the move to end U.S. Justice Department oversight of Juvenile Court. A lot was said in committee sessions last week on that. We recap that and look ahead.

Setting the stage for the investigation of the many allegations made by former SCS principal Ronnie Mackin earlier this month on his way out: The three attorneys looking into this have set up an email account and hotline for more information about the allegations of corruption within the school system. And this promises to be a fairly extensive probe of serious allegations given the structure that has been set up by the attorneys themselves, independent of the school system.

We have done plenty of reporting over a lot of years about the evolution of hospitals away from being primarily about hospital beds. Andy Meek’s cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at Le Bonheur’s crossing of the barrier between what hospitals do and what public health agencies do. The blurring of the line is well underway with the medical research underway in the Memphis medical and health care community. Le Bonheur’s move includes programs like swimming lessons and the funding for them along with prevention and wellness efforts that have been pretty narrowly defined until recently.

In Whitehaven Tuesday, the 10th annual Economic Development Forum by the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum and the MBDA Business Center. MMBC CEO Luke Yancy says the forum is a catalyst as part of a larger discussion about minority business that has gone up in volume in the last three years.

Here’s the rest of the week ahead.

Tuition going up at Southwest Tennessee Community College, that is if you are not among the high school graduates getting two free years of community college with the Tennessee Promise program.

Further down in Digest: Wing King to Cordova.

An interesting federal court ruling involving schools in Jackson, Tennessee. See if anything sound familiar. The city of Jackson has changed how the local part of the sales tax rate there is allocated. And the result is some of the sales tax rate that went to schools now goes into the city’s general fund – the tune of $12 million in school funding Madison County has to make up for losing in the sales tax shift. A federal judge has denied the county a temporary injunction to prevent the sales tax shift pending a full hearing on this or a mediated settlement between the county and the city. It played out very differently here. But some of the same basic issues.

Associated Press analysis on Mississippi’s court battle over the state law that allows business owners and government clerks to cite religious objections and refuse services to same sex couples. A federal appeals court last week lifted the injunction that had barred enforcement of the state law which now takes effect Saturday in Mississippi.

A 120-day restriction in Arkansas on the sale and sue of dicamba is on its way to the governor for approval after the Arkansas State Plant Board approved the ban Friday. There have been complaints about dicamba and dicamba drift on our side of the river as well. Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton talked about the problems when he was in town late last year.

A question along with another look around at the new Tigers basketball training center to open in October as it takes shape: The entrance will include Traditions Hall – a museum of sorts or perhaps a very large trophy case for what has been the city’s de facto sports franchise for nearly 50 years. What and who would you like to see in Traditions Hall and how big should they make the statue of Larry Finch?

A few passings to make note of:

Lupe Gonzalez died last week. He was the Lupe in Lupe and Beas’s Texican Restaurant in the original Crosstown area which he co-owned with his wife. He was an electrician by trade and a member of local 474 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. His union activity went hand in hand with his political activism. He was a longtime member of the local Democratic party’s executive committee.

Fred Lofton, the pastor emeritus of Metropolitan Baptist Church, also died last week. Lofton was a key part of the ecumenical movement among church leaders black and white that developed in the city in the 1970s. He was also in the vanguard of the civil rights movement of that era. And what most who encountered him will remember is his distinct baritone delivery whether at the pulpit or on a street corner. Lofton was also president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a position held by both Benjamin Mays, the president of Morehouse College, and Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the most famous graduate of Morehouse College.

The Memphis News Almanac is all about The Firm as well as an expansion afoot in Frayser, banking in Fox Meadows, the first rock and roll show at the Liberty Bowl, 25-cent dog races and MHA is born. That is a truckload of the past.

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