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VOL. 132 | NO. 215 | Monday, October 30, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Beyond Amazon, Marking The RiverLine and Whimsy Grows

By Bill Dries

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Grizz and Hornets Monday at the Forum. And Tigers football is on the road for a Friday game at Tulsa. On Tuesday, though there will be much attention to the first of six weekly rankings of college football teams by the new College Football Playoff committee. And the Tigers expect to make the rankings. The players are saying that. That will be followed closely, of course, by another series of interviews about how the team is focused only on the next game as they keep hitting refresh on the playoff committee rankings site. The rankings also promise to be interesting for the SEC teams that are part of the local and regional sports mix here.

Ratings and lists are not our friends here in Memphis. And we still care far too much about them. And the more bogus they are, the more likely someone here on one side of an issue is to use them as the proof beyond any doubt that they are right and the folks on the others side don't know what they are talking about -- especially if it is a ranking that includes the word "dangerous." You can still get t-shirts around town with the David Fizdale saying “Take that for data.” And “They’re not going to rook us.” I would humbly suggest a Mike Norvell t-shirt: “It doesn’t dictate who we are.”

We are a little less than two weeks away from the opening of the Tigers basketball season. And on Thursday, the Tigers play LeMoyne-Owen in a pre-season exhibition that will be closely watched.

Here’s the rest of The Week Ahead highlighted by the Indie Memphis film festival.

One of the most popular questions around town these days is whether Memphis really has a shot of getting the Amazon HQ2 project – the $5 billion headquarters that promise 50,000 new white collar jobs over several years. The fact that people are asking the question often indicates what they believe. The pursuit of the project is the setting for Patrick Lantrip’s cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News. Whether Amazon picks the city – or a site in the county outside Memphis – the pursuit could light a fire under some long-standing issues that Amazon included in what amounts to an RFQ – request for qualifications -- for those who want to be in on the selection process. Chief among these is a public transportation system that Amazon employees can rely on. Greater Memphis Chamber president Phil Trenary tells us “We’ll continue to work on that regardless because it’s not just Amazon, it fits into our overall effort to attract good jobs and good companies to Memphis.” He says the exercise should have an impact over the next two to three years with or without HQ2 coming here. Amazon makes its decision in the new year.

The cover story is also a scene-setter for The Daily News Seminar Thursday at the Brooks that will offer more discussion about the Amazon pursuit as well as an Urban Land Institute presentation on real estate investment and development trends.

So you think this business of expansion and economic growth is all about steel coming out of the ground, black and white financials, blueprints. The cookie company that has brought a lot of pink to the Poplar Corridor is going nationwide. Whimsy is opening a new store in Little Rock next month and then Fayetteville. And Whimsy is launching a franchise operation. All with an emphasis on pink.

A follow up to last week’s cover story on the Big River Crossing that also looked at the other related trails, greenways and paths that are connected to it. We’ve got our first look at the plans to better mark the Downtown trail system from Mud Island’s north end to the Memphis side of the crossing on the north side of the Harahan Bridge. The network is being branded by the Riverfront Development Corp. as the “RiverLine” – look for the yellow balls.

The Shelby County Commission has on its Monday agenda a few Shelby Farms Park items including an easement for the Wolf River Greenway. And Monday marks the second of three readings on the pay raise ordinance for 19 of county government’s highest elected positions including all 13 seats on the commission.

As the weekend began, word that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped some parts of the settlement agreement it entered into five years ago with Juvenile Court. These are the parts of the settlement dealing with due process and detention. Still in place are the parts of the settlement that closely watch the court’s disproportionate contact with minority children.

For all of the criticism Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael has offered and the response to that criticism around the critical role that monitors have played in enforcing the settlement, it is significant that the Justice Department dropped those areas of the settlement that the monitors said the court was in compliance on and kept the parts the monitors said the court was not in compliance on.

U.S. Rep. and U.S. Senate contender Marsha Blackburn says she will not be returning the contributions that pharma made to her political future after sponsoring legislation that removed barriers to pharma’s distribution of opioids. She called the idea “absurd.”

Outgoing U.S. Senator Bob Corker not giving a definitive answer these days when asked about whether he might return to the campaign trail in 2020 in a bid for the presidency. Corker says he is focused on serving out his term in the Senate to the end of 2018.

First Horizon disclosed Friday a $5.5 million bonus for CEO Bryan Jordan. Jordan became CEO of the parent company of First Tennessee Bank in 2008 – just about at the onset of the worst national recession since the Great Depression.

The University of Memphis broke ground Friday for its new $44 million music center on the north side of Central Avenue across from the current music building, which I always enjoyed walking through during my brief time in college. It was part of a route that included in the fall the leaf-strewn area of trees about where the McWherter Library now stands. My desire to walk through and linger in a building just to hear the different musical interludes when I had no classes anywhere near that part of campus probably explains why it was a brief time when I was majoring in political science. Political science. What was I thinking?

The Memphis News Almanac: Consolidation Gets Crushed, Underground Parking Downtown, Vermillion and Cream and Election Eve 1923.

PROPERTY SALES 69 163 12,921
MORTGAGES 35 85 8,088
BUILDING PERMITS 109 531 30,465
BANKRUPTCIES 18 85 6,149