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VOL. 132 | NO. 95 | Friday, May 12, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Weekend Sonic Boom, CLERB's Response and Irvin Salky

By Bill Dries

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Yes, those were the United States Navy Blue Angels buzzing Downtown Thursday afternoon in advance of their appearance at the Memphis Airshow Saturday and Sunday in Millington. That sound you heard after the flyover wasn’t a sonic boom. I don’t think they have those anymore. It was the sound of a really busy weekend following close behind.

It starts with Fourth Bluff Friday’s return from 4-10 p.m. in Memphis Park with a pop-up beer garden. This will be a test of the RiverPlay pop-up park across Riverside Drive linking that park with Mississippi River Park down the bluff and on the other side of Riverside. From there the Latino Memphis Festival in Overton Park Saturday, Memphis Greek Festival at Annunciation on Highland, Dragon Boat races on the river, the debut of a baby sloth at the Memphis Zoo, graduations for Christian Brothers University and Southwest Tennessee Community College. And Governor Bill Haslam may unleash a sonic boom of his own traveling between the two ceremonies.

UPDATE: The Fourth Bluff Friday event has been cancelled for this week because of the rain.

Haslam’s appearance at the SWTCC graduation marks the first graduation of students in the Tennessee Promise program that guarantees at least two free years of community college for Tennessee high school graduates.

It’s been about six months since Tracy Hall, the president of Southwest Tennessee Community College called together the faculty and staff from all of the SWTCC campuses together to tell them where she thought the college was going. This was not a good thing. In those six months, those same folks who were listening then have been working on a new game plan for the community college including getting past the divisions Hall still saw from the merger of Shelby State and State Tech in 2000. And the way forward was unveiled earlier this week. The leader of a Tennessee nonprofit working with the state on programs like Tennessee Promise talked about the move from calling for diversity to calling for equity in higher education.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings may have the final say on recommendations from the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board but CLERB members said Thursday that doesn’t necessarily mean he will have the last word. Rallings has rejected three cases in which the board recommended he discipline or reprimand police officers and the board members aren’t happy with his response.

The Shelby County Schools board wants to know more about Germantown’s offer of $25 million for the three Gs.

Back to your Memphis In May frame of mind, word from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen late Thursday that Irvin Salky has died. He was founder of the Beale Street Music Festival, guardian and manager of Phineas Newborn, Furry Lewis and Memphis Slim as part of his law practice. If he wasn’t a founder of the Midtown pub crawl, he was one of its biggest supporters. And he was an essential player in all undertakings that came to define the counter culture tradition of Midtown as we know and appreciate it today. Salky’s father had a shop on Beale Street and his sponsorship of the music festival was essential in 1977 – 40 years ago – when Beale Street was boarded up and crumbling and when the Chamber of Commerce didn’t think music like that was our friend. The powers that be had actually pulled the plug on a similar undertaking at about that time on the other end of the Main Street Mall – or as we called it then, Mid-America Mall.

The city and Airbnb have reached an agreement on how to collect local taxes owed on Airbnb bookings in the city ahead of a June 1 effective date. You may remember that when we met here last we reviewed the efforts by the Tennessee Legislature to limit what Nashville can do in regulating Airbnbs there. The Memphis ordinance approved by the city council and already on the books took an approach that emphasized as little red tape and involvement with City Hall as possible. And that remains. But since the passage of that ordinance, some practical problems in terms of collecting the city’s short term room occupancy tax and the tourism improvement district assessment came up. Thus the agreement for Airbnb, the company, to collect those taxes at the time a customer books a room through its system.

Next week is summit week around town. The Cossitt Library hosts a statewide bike summit and Clayborn Temple hosts the second annual local blight elimination summit. Here’s a preview of the blight summit and some concerns about the scenery around the church that could play into some of the discussions. Please note that the blight summit is Wednesday. In our print edition a wrong day was included in the story by someone who has a really large picture with a red background that runs with this column.

And he regrets the error.

No one bid on the state contract to manage Fall Creek Falls State Park in east Tennessee and critics of the Haslam administration’s move to outsource the management of such state facilities are taking this as a victory on this long-running issue.

In our Friday Sports Section:

Major League Baseball is just getting started. But in college baseball, the University of Memphis team is thinking about the post-season tournament and its place in that tournament.

In his “Press Box” column, Don Wade talks with Randy Odom of Memphis Athletic Ministries who is getting honors from the NBA for two decades of work coaching youth basketball in this city of yours and mine.

David Climer says lay off UT football coach Butch Jones.

Dave Link in Knoxville says the Big Orange baseball coach could be the next to be shown the door there after the tennis coach got sacked recently.

Skydiving for cancer research, specifically the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.

Le Bonheur’s new chief of pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine, Dr. Patricia Dubin, already has a plan for development in asthma and other areas. Dubin has some personal experience with childhood asthma.

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown on “Behind The Headlines” about the firing of FBI director James Comey earlier this week: “A lot of people were surprised not necessarily by the decision but by the timing.” Kustoff, a former U.S. Attorney, supports the action and talks about his vote this month to repeal Obamacare. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

Memphis International Airport CEO Scott Brockman says the airport will probably have “well north” of $500 million of capital projects in the next five years. He commented in Patrick Lantrip’s cover story for our weekly The Memphis News, which is about a different kind of infrastructure need nationally than the one that usually comes to mind. Most of the airports in America are around 40 years old. MEM opened more than 50 years ago.

The PDF of the new issue of The Memphis News is up now on this very website. The hard copies are on the streets Friday morning. And the cover story goes up online here Friday afternoon.

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