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VOL. 132 | NO. 206 | Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Bredesen's Note, Serious Sewer Talks and Protest Vs. Process

By Bill Dries

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Another lively week in state politics as former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen says he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat Bob Corker is giving up. This came Monday in a note to the Associated Press in which Bredesen said he will make his decision quickly about an entry into the Democratic primary.

On the Republican side of the Senate contest, Tuesday is the day former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher comes to Memphis at the end of his across the state “listening tour” as he mulls whether to join the fray. On the road from Mountain City to Memphis though, Fincher has been drawing some contrasts between himself and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn who is in the Republican primary lock, stock and barrel. Fincher has said he will announce his decision this week.

The Grizz had to lose two players from their roster by midday Monday before the start of the regular season and they made their choice – cutting Wade Baldwin and Rade Zagora after a pre-season that was about who would stay, who would go and who would play off the bench in the new season. Baldwin’s status was the subject of much speculation because he was the Grizz first round pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Zagorac was more of a surprise because he signed a two-year contract this summer.

It’s hard to avoid the temptation of puns and some amount of humor when the subject is sewers and what is in them. But the city’s decision in August to end new connections to the city sewer system by development outside the city limits is about as serious as it gets when it comes to changing the direction of government and development. So the discussion we had on Behind The Headlines is the most extensive yet in public from several folks who are involved in the private talks over this among the city, the county and the business community through the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Alan Crone, speaking for the city, also confirmed that this is the tip of the spear for a city administration that is forcing the issue of where development takes place. And what made this possible in the Tennessee Legislature’s decision three years ago to effectively end annexation by requiring approval in a referendum by those about to be annexed.

You can watch the entire program on our video page, video.memphisdailynews.com, or see the column on the right of this website for the Behind The Headlines section.

Crone: “When you reverse policy like this, it’s like musical chairs. The music is going to stop and there may be some people who don’t have a seat.”

A busy City Council day at City Hall Tuesday with lots of discussion about ranked-choice voting in committee sessions and a probable vote on the city’s drive to amend the Downtown Tourism Development Zone to include riverfront and Mud Island plans in the uses for the sales tax revenue captured in that zone. Also some discussion likely and maybe a delay in the third and final vote on the Confederate monuments ordinance now that the Tennessee Historical Commission has heard from the city and said no to one option but sent another option to an administrative law judge next month.

The monuments controversy is the lead story in our Attorneys Emphasis. A recent forum at the U of M Law School was the perfect setting for a discussion about the tension between process – in this case legal process – and protest. The forum took place before the historical commission meeting last Friday and the issue continues to move with a lot of that movement still to come in courtrooms. The discussion was among the city’s two attorneys on the matter, state Senator Lee Harris and Tami Sawyer, leader of the Take Them Down 901 movement, whose most recent protest was a die-in at FedExForum just hours after the historical commission meeting Friday.

Four local attorneys have applied for the vacancy that opens up at the end of the year in Criminal Court when Judge James Beasley retires. They include an assistant U.S. Attorney and the deputy District Attorney General.

Law firms work on retaining women attorneys. Women are half of law schools graduates in the U.S. but make up slightly more than a third of legal professionals. The causes include long-held biases, a need for more work-life balance solutions and flexible work schedules in the land of billable hours and the age of mutli-tasking. And there is something called “the sandwich generation” – individuals raising children and caring for aging parents.

Back to work-life balance – The U of M law school has a wellness program that addresses that and it includes the drive by law students specifically to balance a lot of what an attorney does along with social activities and networking essential to have a career in the law once the bar exam in passed.

A look ahead to Wednesday’s EDGE meeting at the two tax incentives the economic development organization is considering – an Amazon distribution center on our side of the state line with Mississippi and a third tax break for Pfizer to move its financial offices to Ridgeway Center.

It’s been about three years since the Roxul stone wool plant opened in Byhalia’s Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, a manufacturing giant that straddles both sides of the state line. Now a company affiliated with Roxul is about open its $40-million plan in the same industrial park. Rockfon makes acoustic ceiling panels and the Byhalia plant is the first in North America for the company.

For 15 years there has been a gathering in Memphis of venture capitalists that would be the envy of any medical sector out there. One of the sponsors of the annual Muscoskeletal New Ventures Conference tells us Memphis is a “target-rich environment.” The two-day event opens Tuesday at the FedEx Institute of Technology.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289