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VOL. 132 | NO. 94 | Thursday, May 11, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Deeper on Beale, End of Session and Johnny Mathis

By Bill Dries

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Beale Street keeps its cover charge on Saturday nights during its Memphis In May peak. But the district has some complex questions to resolve about its future and who controls that future. If that wasn’t evident before, it became apparent at City Hall Tuesday. It wasn’t the council action on the Beale Street Bucks program that was significant as much as it was the council’s discussion.

The Tennessee Legislature is out for the year, ending its 2017 session Wednesday with the last-minute legislative action that in an off-election year for legislators usually involves rolling bills to live again when the Legislature returns in January 2018. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard runs down the highlights.

Add to that list House passage of a bill by Memphis Democrat Raumesh Akbari to reduce the fee for felony expungements from $350 to $180.

Among the bills rolled is the one that would increase the amount of campaign contributions lawmakers can accept. State Senate minority leader Lee Harris of Memphis saw passage of what began as a bill to give those who overdose a pass on prosecution. It wound up being passed as a law that requires emergency medical services workers to take overdose patients to a hospital first.

With the session done for the year, we will begin to see more movement in the 2018 race for governor and probably the 2018 U.S. Senate race as well.

One of the likely Democratic contenders for Governor, House minority leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley got his K-12 Block Grant Act through the House at session’s end. It would be a $250 million pool of money for competitive grants for items not covered by Basic Education Program state funding.

A reaction to how Nashville is regulating Airbnbs passed by the House got postponed in Senate committee. That means Nashville continues to regulate short term rentals for now and debates a controversial phase-out of non-owner occupied short-term rentals. The amount of regulation needed and a desire to avoid some amount of regulation of short-term rentals was a key feature of the Memphis short-term rental ordinance that went into effect earlier this year.

In his “View From The Hill” column, Stockard looks at what has become a normal part of the end of the legislative year in Nashville for several years now – rancor in the House.

An Israel-based commercial real estate investment firm added a big portfolio to the already large group of properties in Memphis it has bought in a short period of time. Faropoint went industrial this time in a $33.1 million deal.

A look around the $8 million Clark Tower renovations in the Memphis Real Estate Recap.

More details on the coming of “Novel” in Laurelwood.

In our version of the national debate over health insurance, the decision to make double-digit increases in premiums and exit the federal exchange altogether by insurors has been mentioned prominently. Blue Cross Blue Shield announced this week it will offer coverage in Knoxville, causing even more debate and interpretation.

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson will be on the Links at Whitehaven Thursday morning. And students from John P. Freeman Optional School and Holmes Elementary School will be joining him. Nike representatives will be there as well for this transition from the end of the school year to summer that is going to be a very eventful one for SCS. The first school year for the Whitehaven Empowerment Zone is just about in the books. Once school ends this month there will be a set of summer academies opening across the school system that are geared to be more than a summer camp.

Our talk with Johnny Mathis in advance of his June 25 date at the Orpheum.

So, “Sun Records” – the CMT television series – is cancelled. I had high hopes for this just based on the amount of effort I saw at a distance when the show was being made around town. But the show looked much better than it was in terms of its content, in my opinion. The look was so much better than the writing, it betrayed a really shallow story line about a set of very complex and colorful people whose real life story that changed American culture deserved much more. So better luck next time on getting us right on the page. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.

That said, “Sun Records” spent a lot of money locally over a very short amount of time and that should not be discounted. That’s a spend that the cancellation can’t touch. The production of the show is something to build on if for no other reason than the connections from the making of the show. A good number of the 1990s movies shot in Memphis were the result of Michael Hausman’s experience shooting “The Firm” here in 1993 and his influence. John Grisham and his legal thrillers also had a lot to do with it as well.

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