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VOL. 132 | NO. 188 | Thursday, September 21, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The No Compete, Liberty Bowl Blues and Assessing the ASD

By Bill Dries

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The calendar says fall but the weather says summer and in Arlington the flags and notices say election day. The polls at the two polling places in Arlington open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday in municipal elections – the only regularly scheduled election of 2017 in Shelby County, which in our politics is frequently regarded as an invitation for departures and vacancies in other office that cause the scheduling of special elections. We’ve already had those earlier this year for a spot on the Lakeland commission and a state House seat.

The tax abatement for the planned Overton Square hotel skated through the EDGE – Economic Development Growth Engine -- board – Wednesday afternoon. But the bigger story was a change in plans for the concert venue Graceland announced last month after the Grizzlies decided to invoke or at least express concerns about the no-compete clause in their contract to run FedExForum. The bond attorney for Graceland told the EDGE board attorneys for Graceland and EDGE believed the forum no-compete clause didn’t apply to the Whitehaven venue. But Graceland decided to change its plans to no fixed seats and limit the shows to those produced by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

There is certain to be fallout from this if it stands. And it may turn up again as soon as Thursday evening when the city holds the second in a set of three public meetings on the development plan for the Fairgrounds that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wants to have ready to take to Nashville before the end of the year. That includes some kind of decision on whether the Mid-South Coliseum, the most prominent casualty of the no-compete clause, stays or goes. The Coliseum Coalition has a new plan that would scale down a restored Coliseum to 4,999 seats. That number is no random number either. It's a number that anticipates the no-compete clause.

Meanwhile, as promised when last we met, more on another part of the Fairgrounds that has largely been an oasis from the speculation, discussion and controversy that is the story line for the rest of the Fairgrounds. Memphis City Council members are not happy with the firm running the Liberty Bowl and the rest of the Fairgrounds for the city. They told executives with the firm as much when a vice president of Spectra responded to complaints about running out of bottled water at Saturday Tigers football game by noting that the stadium didn’t run out of water – just bottled water.

More from Tuesday’s council session with a closer look at the legal opinion from the city council’s attorney on the chairman’s conflict of interest controversy.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reviews changes in the Achievement School District and finds the view of the state-run district for low performing schools that operates in Memphis for the most part remains mixed and the verdict on how its methods have worked is anything but unanimous.

Also in Nashville, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery estimates more than 3 million Tennesseans – about half of the state’s population -- are affected by the Equifax hack. He said so in a letter to Equifax that expresses concern and offers specific recommendations on what the credit reporting agency should do to make this right.

At MEM, Frontier starts nonstop service with Orlando in November at three flights a week. And work begins on the airport’s car rental facility on the airport footprint.

Another kind of journey next month at Tiger Lane with the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s and those leading the fundraiser talk about the move to a cure and why the 1981 book “The 36-Hour Day” remains an introduction and a Bible of sorts for the families of those with Alzheimer’s.

Another Fed Wednesday with the Fed deciding it will start toward reducing its bond holdings. Here is the text from after the meeting.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751