VOL. 132 | NO. 53 | Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Last Word: Milhaus Sells, Voucher Debate Gets Heated and Boyd's Fly Around
By Bill Dries
Highland Row isn’t fully open yet and it is already up for sale as part of a real estate portfolio. The owner, Milhaus, based in Indianapolis, is a development, construction and property management company that works in mixed use development. And the portfolio being on the market could turn into a recapitalization.
In the same neighborhood, the renderings for the land bridge that will go over Southern and Walker and onto the alumni mall at the University of Memphis get their debut Thursday at a Student Government Association gathering on campus. But an early look shows a bridge that will be more than just a way over the railroad tracks and the two roads. It marks an entrance so to speak with some design elements including suspension cables and lighting that promise to reorient the journey south to north and vice versa on campus.
Meanwhile, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approved Tuesday a 15-year PILOT or tax break for the redevelopment of the Hickman Building, on Madison between B.B. King and Fourth, that amounts to a $3 million tax break for a $16.3 million project.
The Memphis Democratic state Rep. who is the House sponsor of state Senator Brian Kelsey’s voucher bill – John DeBerry -- debated opponents of the legislation from Shelby County on Capitol Hill Tuesday with our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, listening in on what was at times a heated discussion about the impact of school vouchers.
President Donald Trump in Nashville Wednesday for a rally and also a stop at The Hermitage to honor Andrew Jackson, the first modern Democratic president on the 250th anniversary of Jackson' birth. Much being made about who will be with Trump where and who won’t.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, no fan of Trump during the 2016 campaign in which Haslam backed Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is looking for something tangible to indicate a direction from the White House and/or Congress on what replaces Obamacare. Here’s a basic summary of where Haslam is on this. In a word it is flexible. It seemed to be the case early on that Tennessee’s decision not to do a version of a Medicaid expansion, despite Haslam’s advocacy of “Insure Tennessee,” has now worked out better than other states where the Medicaid expansion was accepted. But simply block granting Medicaid funding is now shifting to a more complex formula for states.
Back here in Memphis, the city co-founded by Andrew Jackson, some of the focus Thursday morning will be on the next election – the 2018 Governor’s race in particular. Former state Economic and Community Development director Randy Boyd started his fly-around – the traditional kick-off of a Governor’s race – Tuesday in Knoxville, specifically New Hopewell Elementary School, where Boyd was once a student. Boyd will be here in Memphis Wednesday morning to do the honors. Boyd has a strong network of support among local Republicans here that indicates he will not be ceding Shelby County to state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville in the 2018 primary. At this very early stage, Boyd appears to be tapping into much of the base that Haslam appealed to in his 2010 victory.
In the upcoming special election this year for State Rep. District 95, Robert Schutt filed his petition with the Shelby County Election Commission Tuesday to run as an independent in the June 15 general election, bypassing the April 27 Democratic and Republican primaries. The Vanderbilt student is the son of Peter Schutt, the president and chairman of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. He’s been editor in chief of Orbis, an on-campus publication about the environment and worked on the family farm.
And some more detail about our note earlier this week about Jim Tomasik, who has a petition out to run for the seat as a Libertarian. As we reported, Tomasik doesn’t live in District 95. He lives in state House District 96. Living in the district is not a requirement for pulling a qualifying petition. It’s a distinction we’ve also seen in Congressional races as well including Larry Crim, a Democratic contender for U.S. Senate who challenged U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen last year in the 9th Congressional District primary despite living in Antioch, Tennessee – which is in the 5h Congressional District.
There is the goal of growing minority businesses in Memphis in business-to-business transactions as well as government contracts. And then there are the formidable barriers not from active resistance to such growth but from the daunting level of bureaucracy that comes with being certified to go after contracts – particularly government contracts. And in the renewed push to up the receipts of minority businesses – black businesses in particular – there has been much debate about whether all of the red tape is necessary. Some critics have even questioned whether a minority business would be better off simply stepping around the arduous process to be certified as a minority business and apply without any minority designation.
The process costs money – so much that the Greater Memphis Chamber has a loan program for businesses to complete certification. The certification allows those who complete the process to apply for federal government contracts. It’s called ISO 9001 certification and going through the training can cost as much as $35,000. That’s before the first contract is bid on.
FedEx founder Fred Smith on trade with China and the likelihood of a trade war in an interview transcript in Fortune.
Some background on the road to the Shelby County Schools budget proposal that superintendent Dorsey Hopson took to the school board Monday afternoon. It took about four years to get to what is a very crucial stage in the turnaround of the school system.
For 80 years, the Memphis College of Art has taught classes to students who just want to know how to do something in the arts. In other words, not for credit. The program continues with a new accreditation.
Grizz and Tigers notes from Don Wade.
An uptick in flight delays this winter for U.S. airlines.
On his last year in office, the administration of President Barack Obama spent $36 million on legal costs from defending the administration’s refusal to turn over federal records. That according to an Associated Press analysis. That’s a record for a second consecutive year. And in a third of those cases, the government would later acknowledge it had been wrong and should have turned over the records. That is the highest rate in six years.
By federal government departments that the records were sought from in 2016, the Justice Department accounted for $12 million of the $36.2 million in legal costs.
The number of Americans defaulting on student loans last year was up 17 percent. That’s 4.2 million borrowers in default – not making a payment in more than 270 days.