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VOL. 133 | NO. 79 | Thursday, April 19, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: 'Poking The Bear,' National Walk Out Day and McQueen on Capitol Hill

By Bill Dries

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The state House’s Tuesday action cutting $250k in funding for Memphis from Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget proposal is turning into a cause back here, starting with a GoFundMe page. Elsewhere on social media, you can see the unmistakable outline of a party or parties for the cause beginning to form. This is near the end of session for the Legislature when the budget is the last action before going back to the district to run for re-election. Different timing over here, with multiple crawfish outings leading into Memphis in May.

The Confederate monuments and the Legislature’s reaction were among the topics that came up at what is probably the last forum featuring all three of the contenders in the May Republican primary for county mayor. And all three said the city didn’t handle the removal the right way. But Terry Roland, David Lenoir and Joy Touliatos stopped short of calling it illegal. There remarks were more along the lines of “poking the bear” as Roland called it.

State Senator Lee Harris who is running in the Democratic primary for county mayor in May was in Nashville as the ABC forum was underway Wednesday afternoon. Via Twitter earlier in the day he had a different view than the Republican pack.

“We should all be worried by the action of Republicans in control of the TN House, as this sets up a dangerous precedent. It means that local elected officials can be punished for (lawful) decisions that end up rubbing powerful elected officials in Nashville the wrong way.”

More on some other issues that came up at the forum in the Monday edition.

Three of the four major contenders in the August Republican primary for Tennessee Governor were in town Wednesday night for a debate.

Three of the four major Republican contenders for Tennessee Gov. in the Republican primary also reacted to the latest turn in the monuments issue Wednesday at a Chamber forum Downtown. Bill Lee, Diane Black and Randy Boyd all said removing the monuments was wrong but didn’t describe it as illegal. And each said the House was wrong to cut city funding in the budget. Each also equated the monuments with history.

The question is Nashville is whether this is it in terms of reprisals – I mean aside from bills filed for the sake of filing them that have absolutely no chance of passing. The long term question here is which state officials get invited to the city’s bicentennial in 2019 and which don’t.

Grizz coach J.B. Bickerstaff became interim coach during the turbulent season that recently ended with the Grizz not going to the playoffs and focusing instead of the upcoming NBA draft.

All of this comes one year after a Grizz NBA playoff game that prompted an uncharacteristic post game tirade by then-Grizz coach David Fizdale in which he said, “They’re not going to rook us,” before signing off with “Take that for data.” Proof, I think, that there is more than one bear being poked in all of this.

As for the present-day Grizz, one year later, no second season and much of the attention is on the NBA draft.


This may be a basketball town. But baseball has its strongholds. Franklin Sports got a tax break at EDGE Wednesday for an expansion of its distribution center for its products which include batting gloves.

Memphis Democrat Johnnie Turner nears retirement in the state House with the coming end of the session. And she talked with our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard about the final push for the cold case bill – the bill that would establish a state body to investigate lynchings and similar crimes.

Sam’s “View From The Hill” column puts Sex Week and the Legislature’s session on parallel tracks.

This is National Walk Out Day – a set of protests by students in several cities around the issues of gun violence. As we reported Tuesday evening, SCS officials expect there could be protests at about two dozen or so schools – mostly high schools.

Some include spoken word performances, balloon releases, formal programs outside school buildings – and an ongoing broadening of the issue from the Parkland, Florida school massacre that this movement was born out of. For the Memphis students who participated in the local version of the “March For Our Lives” Downtown last month, this is about gun violence off campus as well as violence on school campuses.


Chalkbeat on Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen’s Capitol Hill appearance on the TNReady testing problems. McQueen says she has no plans to resign. And later in the day Wednesday, she said she has engaged the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state’s Office of Homeland Security to investigate the online attack she and others have said was involved with the problems. McQueen also wants an investigation of how Questar, the testing company, responded to the cyber attack. And she emphasized that no student data appeared to have been taken in the attack.

Fred’s delayed an earnings call set for Wednesday as it moves to sell a part but not all of its pharmacy business.

Roll Call with video of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in Washington Wednesday saying although he has endorsed fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in this year’s Senate race, he would not campaign against Democratic contender Phil Bredesen. He also says it looks like Bredesen is up by six points in the race that goes to voters on the November ballot.

Sleep Out Louie’s on the Alcohol Commission agenda Wednesday. The new version of the Downtown bar that featured ties and was a favorite of legal eagles appears to be going into the Peabody Place building. The beer board delayed action on a permit until the May meeting. Meanwhile the steak house on Union between Front and Main that was the original Sleep Out Louie’s has scaffolding up around it.

Speaking of lawyers… The Tennessee Supreme Court announcing Wednesday it has adopted the Uniform Bar Exam for bar admission in the state – a test used in 31 jurisdictions with the ability to transfer scores between states. The UBE, as it is known, will be given for the first time here in February.

PROPERTY SALES 39 202 12,960
MORTGAGES 25 110 8,113
BUILDING PERMITS 114 645 30,579
BANKRUPTCIES 37 122 6,186