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VOL. 132 | NO. 50 | Friday, March 10, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Voucher Movement, The Battle of Pontotoc and Ch-Chandler Numbers

By Bill Dries

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Republican state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown had a very good week in the state capitol this week. His school voucher bill got unanimous votes in House and Senate committee this week despite a tide of opposition from local elected officials and leaders including fellow legislators in the Shelby County delegation and all seven public school districts in Shelby County including the six suburban school systems.

Kelsey vowed earlier in the session that the Legislature would pass a voucher bill this year. But he isn’t declaring victory yet.

The legislation’s next stop is Tuesday in other House and Senate committees.

Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, follows the path this week in the capitol as well as the discussion.

Other legislative action includes a delay for the year in the “heartbeat bill” banning abortions once ultrasound detects a heartbeat.

Picture this. The Legislature adjourns for the year, which means legislators can then begin to hold campaign fundraisers under state law – or by May 15 if the session is still underway. But what if the Legislature is going to come back in a special session to vote on a veto override. A bill that passed the House this week would allow campaign fundraisers for incumbents while they wait to go back for a veto override vote.

Better question, how do you write the story if the Governor vetoes the veto override fundraising bill. That would mean that until or unless the Legislature overrides the veto, the legislators can't hold fundraisers, unless of course it is after May 15 -- in which case this is all moot. Right?

The battle of Pontotoc goes to the South Main neighborhood Thursday at the Land Use Control Board. But this still has to go to the Memphis City Council. The developers of Linden Hotels want the small but key side street closed between Turley and Danny Thomas Boulevard to better pull together five parcels they have assembled on both sides of Pontotoc.

The LUCB vote was unanimously against closing the street citing more new development to come – the South City project turning the Foote Homes public housing development into a mixed-use mixed-income development.

Saturday is Chalkfest at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. And you should go inside to watch Victor Ekpuk create a 58-foot long mural that will be the centerpiece for a new African art exhibit area. We dropped in on Ekpuk Wednesday to watch him work and to talk with him about his unique style. Once the mural is done, you will see a different African art exhibit than the one best known for decades by the African masks on an unadorned wall. A bit later, the Brooks area will include art from the collection of the Newark Museum and items from the Brooks permanent collection.

In The Edge – the area between Downtown and the Medical District – a year-long art installation got underway Thursday. It’s shiny and it’s blue and you should look up.

New home sales numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc., show a rise in prices in February – about 7 percent from a year ago. The highest average price was $535,900 in the Eads 38028 ZIP. The most new home sales were in the Arlington/Lakeland ZIP of 38002 – 14 sales averaging $307,096.

The mortgage market, by the Chandler numbers, was flat locally for the month compared to a year ago. Slightly bigger mortgages reported by lenders but lighter purchase volume evened things out overall.

Here comes the race for Shelby County Sheriff. You won’t see it on a ballot until 2018 starting with the May primaries, about a year and a month from now. But chief deputy Floyd Bonner tells us he is running in the Democratic primary then and Dale Lane, who was a contender eight years ago, came out as a contender in the Republican primary a few weeks ago at the Lincoln Day Gala of the Shelby County Republican Party. Incumbent Republican Bill Oldham is term-limited.

One more political note, President Donald Trump is in Nashville next week.

The latest Crosstown Concourse tenant is an organic vegetarian restaurant called Mama Gaia and it will be the first restaurant to open at the concourse in about two weeks.

In the Friday Sports Section:

More from Don Wade in his Press Box column on the possible exodus of a Lawson from the Tigers basketball program. Coach Tubby Smith on the reaction to this dismal season: “You’ve got a flavor here of expectations.”

Now about that Fizdale quote.

David Climer says the new Big Orange athletic director is potential trouble for Butch Jones and you need look no further back than the firing of Phillip Fulmer at UT.

Dave Link in Knoxville on why Fulmer was passed up for the job John Currie got.

Behind The Headlines this week is a reporter's roundtable with Ryan Poe of The Commercial Appeal and Bernal Smith of The New Tri-State Defender. It airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, by Don Wade is all about post baby boomer philanthropy in Memphis. The new issue in its glorious entirety is up now as a PDF on this website. The hard copies hit the streets Friday morning and the cover story goes up on line Friday afternoon.

PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964