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VOL. 132 | NO. 87 | Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dries

Bill Dries

Last Word: DNA Unit Trouble, 100 Years After Ell Persons and Gas Tax Hike Redux

By Bill Dries

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The suspension of Ouita Knowlton, the Memphis Police detective overseeing the MPD's DNA Unit, appears to involve more than alleged violations of police policies. The unit oversees testing and processing of all current rape kits and those left unprocessed for decades that the city is currently working its way through five years after the admission. The District Attorney General’s office is part of the investigation of Knowlton, the office confirmed Monday. There are no specifics about what is involved here. But the police investigation will go to District Attorney General Amy Weirich who will then determine if criminal laws were violated and if there is a case to be made.

May Day in Memphis includes a Day Without Immigrants march Monday evening from Clayborn Temple to the National Civil Rights Museum – the second immigration march on that route since February.

Meanwhile, in about three weeks a coalition of local groups will mark 100 years since the 1917 lynching of Ell Persons with two historical markers on Summer Avenue near the old Macon Road Bridge where a mob burned Persons alive. And one of the goals for the group is to have a larger group of Memphians gather at and near the site for a different purpose than the 5,000 people who reportedly watched Persons’ die 100 years earlier to the day.

Now that the Grizz season is safely in the book and the lockers are cleaned out for the post-season, Don Wade evaluates the season that was and who comes back and who doesn’t in the next season. The four free agents – three unrestricted and one restricted – all say they want to come back but there’s not enough money for everyone to get a multi-year deal.

Chalkbeat on the new billboards up by the groups that called on Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to put $10 million in funding for Shelby County Schools programs in his recent budget proposal.

The Mississippi River at Memphis is on the rise and that's just what the creators of Big River Crossing knew would happen and planned for. As a result of the high water coming to the flood plain on the Arkansas side of the crossing, the Arkansas gate of the crossing is locked effective Tuesday. The Memphis side of the crossing, atop our bluff, remains open to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can only enter and exit the crossing from the Memphis side until the river level drops from its annual rise. Then the West Memphis entrance and exit will reopen.

In our Financial Service Emphasis:

A veteran of Morgan Keegan’s Wealth Management Services division talks about a different scale and different practices at the three-year old Revolution Partners.

Real time data on the financial markets isn’t necessarily a good think for investors. But it is part of an irreversible trend in watching the market.

Along those same lines, the chief investment officer at First Tennessee, advises that when investors are in doubt they should hold what they’ve got.

Here is the very latest look around the transformation of the Peabody Place mall to the new HQ of ServiceMaster. It looks like the innovation center at Peabody Place and B.B. King Boulevard will be the first part to open. Look for it in mid-June. For those of you familiar with the old mall, that would be where Tower Records used to be. Lots more windows and natural light inside as well.

After eight months of talks, Baptist Memorial Health Care and Mississippi Baptist Health Systems have merged and created a health care giant that is not only the largest in the state, but the largest in the region and the fourth largest employer in Mississippi.

Poplar Healthcare is a Memphis lab testing company that has settled a claim by the federal government against it for $900,000. Federal prosecutors claimed Poplar performed tests that were not medically necessary. The company doesn’t admit any wrongdoing but its payment means the feds will recoup the costs of the tests and the doctor who was the whistle blower in the case will be paid $200,000.

A section of CN Railway south of Memphis near the town of Money, Mississippi reopened Monday after being closed Sunday when two southbound trains collided, derailed and caught fire. While the tracks were closed, southbound Amtrak passengers from Memphis took the bus while northbound passengers in Jackson did the same for the journey to Memphis.

Memphis was among several major cities who took Wells Fargo to court in civil lawsuits claiming the bank violated the federal Fair Housing Act with discriminatory and predatory lending practices directed at minority customers.

But a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday in Miami’s suit against Wells Fargo and Bank of America says that such cases can only be made if the cities can link such policies to a hit on the property tax base. The city of Memphis settled with Wells Fargo early on. Miami won at the appellate court level later on and that took the case to the nation’s highest court as the banks appealed. Both sides claimed victory in the ruling four years after the last property reappraisal locally resulted in property values bringing in less revenue to local governments instead of the same or more. It was the first time in the memory of any elected official locally that that had happened and it was attributed to the heavy toll the foreclosure crisis and the bursting of the bubble in the housing market took in Memphis.

Complications for the state gas tax act? Less than a week after the Tennessee Legislature approved Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act – a set of tax hikes in the gas tax rates coupled with a larger dollar total in a set of tax cuts elsewhere – President Donald Trump is now talking about a federal gas tax hike via The Hill.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 16 53 275
BUILDING PERMITS 0 569 5,701
BANKRUPTCIES 0 87 993
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 110 491
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0