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VOL. 132 | NO. 199 | Friday, October 6, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Chamber on Forrest, Different Amazon News & More 2018 Dominoes

By Bill Dries

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The Greater Memphis Chamber rolls out its part of the push by the city administration to get a state waiver for the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue. Next week is the meeting of the Tennessee Historical Commission with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland showing up to make his pitch. That is even though the chairman of the body has told him the commission will not take up a waiver at the meeting.

The Amazon watch got a lot more interesting Thursday with the story Patrick Lantrip broke about the Amazon distribution center that will be the tenant for the large warehouse IDI is building on our side of the Tennessee-Mississippi state line. IDI still isn’t talking exact square footage numbers, but the plat submitted to city officials shows a 1.1 million square foot facility near Holmes and Tchulahoma. This would be the city’s first Amazon “fulfillment center” which is a different kind of development than Amazon’s $5-billion HQ2 project that the city is vying for along with numerous other metropolitan areas.

A busy Thursday on the state political front that began as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was packing for next week’s trade trip to Asia. Before he leaves, Haslam had said he would make his decision on running for the open U.S. Senate seat Bob Corker is giving up. Just the whole timing of this announcement was telegraphing that Haslam wasn’t going to run for Senate. And sure enough, he isn’t.

“The primary reason is that I want to remain completely focused on my job as Governor,” Haslam said Thursday morning in a written statement. “And while I have loved being a mayor and a governor, I don’t feel the same call to run for Senate at this point.”

Left unsaid – this could change in 2020 depending on the re-election plans of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander whose seat is on the ballot statewide that year.

Waiting in the wings for Haslam’s announcement was U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who followed Haslam with a campaign kickoff – saying she is running for the Senate. That means she won’t be running for re-election to her 7th district seat next year.

And that brought state Sen. Mark Green out. Green said he will run for Blackburn’s seat after a rather tumultuous year or so in which he was out there early, ahead of the rest of the Republican pack running for governor, got out of the race when President Donald Trump nominated him to be Secretary of the Army and then pulled out of the nomination after considerable Washington headwinds over his positions and comments as a state legislator. Green made it clear he would not go back to the governor’s race.

We have our own dominoes here. State Rep. Raumesh Akbari more than a little interested in running for the state Senate seat Lee Harris is giving up next year to run in the Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor. Meanwhile, intentions being declared in other races on the local 2018 ballot. Robert Hill of the Trustee’s office making formal Tuesday his bid for Juvenile Court Clerk next year and Republican Geoff Diaz is running for Shelby County Commission after running a competitive if unsuccessful race four years ago for the District 10 seat claimed by Democrat Reginald Milton. Milton is seeking re-election, so we’ve got a rematch.

REI, a Seattle neighbor of Amazon, opening a sporting and camping goods store in Ridgeway Trace we see in our building permits listing. This is going in the space that had been a Sports Authority before that chain filed for bankruptcy last march. REI stands for Recreational Equipment Inc., just for the record.

More on the Brooks considering the Front Street block between Monroe and Union for its new location. The back story is this was in a concept plan for riverfront redevelopment two months before Brooks made the announcement it was looking.

Deadline on plans for a movie about the 1968 sanitation workers strike that is built around Michael Honey’s 2007 book “Going Down Jericho Road.” At least that is what it is built around at the outset. That can and usually does change. The TCM series “Sun Records” was initially based on “Million Dollar Quartet” and a few other things before picking up a lot of elements in Peter Gurlanick’s definitive Sam Phillips bio and succumbing to mediocre writing in the transition. If I sound pessimistic about this it is only because Hollywood traditionally has no interest in getting anywhere near our complexity. They like us as stereotypical characters but not our story. They look for the easy way every single time. Only Hollywood could make a movie about the assassination of Medgar Evers and make Evers a minor character in the film. "Ghosts of Mississippi" was based on a book that deserved much better. The strike is a sprawling epic in terms of its storyline that Hollywood will inevitably want to reduce in scope. If you reduce it in scope you are able to get your lead actors on the movie poster but you won’t get the impact of this important story. That raises the question of why you would even attempt it. Several film-makers have put in face time here over the years, including Oliver Stone, but ultimately they’ve been all talk and no follow through.

In our Friday Sports Section:

Tigers QB Riley Ferguson says last week in Orlando is “water under the bridge” and Coach Mike Norvell agrees. But it raises questions about how to judge college quarterbacks.

And since we are talking about judgments, how do you judge job security in the SEC?

On that subject, David Climer talking about a familiar topic, the future of Butch Jones at Rocky Top and goes deeper into the coaching ranks for a sort of post mortem on a patient that may be in critical condition but is still alive. Dave Link breaks down the prospects for returning players at UT.

The Midtown skatepark known as AlTown gets a paint job.

A walk through the renderings for the Bicentennial Gateway project with an LRK associate in advance of our Oct. 12 Daily News Seminar on that, St. Jude’s expansion and the future of the Pinch.

The cover story by Andy Meek in our weekly, The Memphis News, gets into what is in the area now and what happens to that in the transformation. The PDF of the new issue is up on this website now. The hard copies are on the streets Friday morning. And the online version of the cover story goes up Friday afternoon.

Memphis Light Gas and Water Division president Jerry Collins on water, aquifers, trees and power outages on Behind The Headlines. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

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