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VOL. 132 | NO. 105 | Friday, May 26, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Sessions Notes, Lakeland Elects and Golf Classic Turns 60

By Bill Dries

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t stick with the script he has when he makes a speech, like the one he gave Thursday at the federal building to a room full of federal prosecutors and local and state law enforcement. Some of that comes from his background as a former U.S. Attorney and Alabama’s Attorney General, not to mention his tenure as a U.S. senator.

The mix of scripted remarks and his comments off the printed page were a bold and basic outline of his philosophy as the nation’s chief prosecutor. And they generated an equally bold and basic response from critics who contend the direction is the wrong one for Memphis.

To me, the most interesting comment was an unscripted comment about Sessions’ belief that it is a “violation of the will of Congress to systematically not charge a readily provable offense.”

Sessions clearly laying much of the blame for resurgent violent crime on policies that have been more selective on such matters especially in drug cases. To Sessions, those drug cases are inextricably linked to the rise in violent crime.

Sessions talked about the resurgence of violent crime in cities like and including Memphis and he included some vivid anecdotes toward the idea that law-abiding citizens are a captive in their own homes of armed gangs and drug dealers.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings agreed with everything he heard. But after Sessions remarks, he also told reporters: “I think the media overplays violence, overplays mayhem. I would like to see you all become more responsible in how you report. I think that you help create an environment that appears to be totally chaotic.”

Here is the round up of what Sessions said in Memphis and the reaction from several places Thursday. The demonstration noted in the story is another indication of the robust discussion in several places across our community about what should stay the same and what should change in the local criminal justice system.

A couple of additional notes. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s office issued a statement later in the day indicating that in a private meeting with Sessions, “we were frank with Mr. Sessions about our challenges.”

“We asked for continued and expanded grant funding, additional agents to join the multi-agency gang unit and organized crime unit, and to continue with the COPS Office’s collaborative review of MPD.”

The review is an extensive review of police department practices and statistics that in other cities has led to major and historic recommended changes in basic police procedures and assumptions.

Sessions indicated from the day he was appointed Attorney General that he would seek to undo such measures in instances that were not these kind of collaborative reviews.

Low and close in Thursday’s special election for the vacancy on Lakeland’s board of commissioners. Wesley Wright, the owner of Wright Landscapings, takes the commission seat vacated by Michele Dial earlier this year, by eight votes over Maurice Denbow.

Elsewhere in suburbia, early voting opens Friday in the special general election for state House District 95. Here are the details. DEMOCRACY

It took a second try but the Bank On Memphis effort is getting traction including being highlighted at the national Bank On conference in Washington this week. Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir touted the Bank On app among other things in his presentation to the group there.

In our Friday Sports Section:

The FedEx St. Jude Golf Classic turns 60 years old next month the same year that the 41-year-old Memphis Open tennis tournament announced it was calling it a day. The two very different states of these two important sports events may have more to do with the state of the PGA tour and the professional tennis circuit than the setting for them.

First reviews of the Tigers football team’s offense include one ranking that has the Tigers listed as a top 25 offense.

David Climer on UT football’s past nickname of “Wide Receiver U.”

Dave Link on who the prospects are to be UT’s new baseball coach and the names include a Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach.

You may remember late last year there were plans for the Chiwawa location in Overton Square. The restaurant’s conversion to Indian Pass Raw Bar, a Florida seafood restaurant that is expanding to other cities, was pushed back over some delays in getting the necessary permits. Indian Pass has now pulled a $400,000 building permit for the location at 2059 Madison Ave. Does the “Midtown Is Memphis” arch remain?

More detail on what happens now that Railgarten has the green light from the Memphis City Council and the local Board of Adjustment.

When you first hear about first responders using a “simulator” to train in their medical techniques and procedures, you may think of some kind of on-line presence. This past week, the county fire department trained those in the county’s new ambulance service at MERI – the Medical Education and Research Institute.

And the simulators are no on-line marvel. They are realistic looking “bodies” that can blink and breathe and turn blue, have a seizure and just about anything a medical responder will come across. The training also uses cadavers. The training is invaluable on the procedures that EMTs may not use very often, but when they do the practice and training that takes place at these times saves lives.

Behind The Headlines is all about the city budget and Beale Street with our guests City Council chairman Berlin Boyd, council budget committee chairman Edmund Ford Jr. and council member Martavius Jones.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, is about investors who are buying a lot of residential real estate in Memphis sight unseen for often vast investment portfolios in numerous cities. What those investors do or don’t do and what can motivate both is a pretty interesting and varied story with indications that there are about to be some changes in the local response. And we found an interesting name listed as the owner of a portfolio of about 25 properties who had a different reason for buying some of them sight unseen.

The PDF of the new issue is up now on this very website. The hard copies are in the racks Friday morning and the cover story goes up online Friday afternoon.

With Monday being Memorial Day, Last Word will return with the Tuesday edition.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047