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VOL. 132 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Year of Tyreke Evans, Opioid Ruling and Installing a Jumper

By Bill Dries

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The Tigers basketball home opener is a come from behind win Tuesday at the Forum over Little Rock 70-62. Still not enough to determine where this new team in so many ways is bound. But that won’t stop the early speculation … or the later speculation starting with the New Orleans game at the Forum in another week. The Grizz take their turn Wednesday with the Pacers kicking off a Grizz home stand followed by the Rockets Saturday for the third time in this young season, Trail Blazers Monday and Mavericks Wednesday. But let’s not get too far ahead here.

In fact, let’s take a few steps back to what Tyreke Evans has been doing for the Grizz since the U of M star returned to wear Beale Street Blue with a one-year $3.3 million that some of you may think means he will be gone by season’s end if not sooner. Maybe think again?

Splitting the baby so to speak in Chancery Court Tuesday which was the setting for the dust-up between County Mayor Mark Luttrell and the county commission over opioid litigation. Chancellor Jim Kyle said several times in his ruling from the bench that the commission clearly overstepped its role in the county charter and the Tennessee Constitution when it and not the mayor hired a law firm to pursue a big pharma lawsuit. But he put the lawsuit filed at just about the same time in Circuit Court on hold for the next six weeks to give Luttrell time to intervene in the commission’s lawsuit and effectively take control of it. Luttrell wasted no time in saying that’s exactly what he will do.

As that was happening, a big change in a city-county office that you may not know much about but which plays a huge role in the building and development of Memphis and Shelby County. Rick Copeland is retiring as the head of what those in government and who build for a living call “OPD” –- the Office of Planning and Development whose formal name these days is the Division of Planning and Development. Like I said, OPD. And Copeland has shaped its identity as an institution. It is the first stop for any development project on its way to approval by various appointed and elected bodies.

It is also the best example of how public records should work through a website that allows you to find out just about everything about a project the moment it is filed with the office, including changes. The detailed OPD staff reports are make or break for any project making its way through government corridors. Patrick Lantrip, our real estate reporter, is considering having a chip implanted somewhere on his person that allows him to be linked in at all times. (Just kidding about that last part. Paying attention?)

Both mayors have nominated John Zeanah, a deputy director in the department, to succeed Copeland. You may recognize Zeanah from his prominent role in the development of the Memphis 3.0 plan, the Greenprint and the resiliency grant planning now underway around a $60-million federal grant.

Speaking of changes in development plans, the developers of a hotel on Beale east of Fourth have made some big changes to the layout of their development whose frontage on Beale would now be a large parking lot.

Not too far away, two popular destinations in The Edge – the middle ground between Downtown and the Medical District – are literally breaking down walls between themselves. That would be High Cotton Brewing and Edge Alley. They are having a door cut into a two-foot thick brick fire wall that separates their businesses. And the Edge Alley side of this is running the taproom as High Cotton focuses on the brewery and its distribution network. In return, Edge Alley hopes to use that distribution network for its coffee brand.

Another milestone toward the opening of the restored Grand Carousel next month at the Children’s Museum of Memphis. The first horse was put in place Tuesday at Hollywood and Central.

EPIcenter’s latest call to creatives locally is a business plan contest Wednesday that awards $20,000 to the best plan to overcome the persistent challenges that local makers and artisans face. The prize also includes $5,000 in business service support from EPIcenter.

Lots of campaign notes. Republican contender for Governor Bill Lee opens his Memphis HQ Wednesday and Jamal Whitlow opens his bid for County Clerk in the Democratic primary. Thursday Democratic contender for Governor Karl Dean opens his Memphis HQ and Richard Morton kicks off his campaign for County Commission District 5 in the Republican primary. Democratic county commissioner Reginald Milton opens his re-election campaign Friday with Cong. Steve Cohen on the bill. And word here Wednesday from Michael Whaley who is running in the Democratic primary also for County Commission District 5.

Lots of interest in District 5, which is one of six open seats on the 13-member commission as incumbent Republican and commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer is term-limited.

In Middle Tennessee, Lee Thomas Miller, a country songwriter who describes himself as a “leader in the culture wars” is running for the 7th District Congressional seat Marsha Blackburn is giving up to run for the U.S. Senate. Miller will face state Sen. Mark Green in the August Republican primary.

One of the two Democratic state Representatives in the Tennessee Legislature from East Tennessee will not be on the ballot in Chattanooga next year seeking re-election.

You kind of knew this was going to happen, didn’t you? Measurement Inc., the testing company the state fired in 2016 when the new academic achievement tests went wrong, is suing the state for $25.3 million per Chalkbeat.

A fourth casino to be voted on Thursday by the Choctaws in Mississippi – in the Red Water community.

Jasmine Hurt, the new marketing and event services coordinator at The Cannon Center is atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment without missing a beat.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597