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VOL. 133 | NO. 85 | Friday, April 27, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Graceland Offensive, Mural Lawsuit, and a TNReady Encore

By Bill Dries

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It’s on in The Haven. Graceland’s managing partner, Joel Weinshanker, is looking to turn out Whitehaven residents in support of Graceland’s plans for a 5,000 to 6,000 seat arena and in the process a showdown over just what the city and county noncompete for FedExForum means. During a townhall meeting at Guest House Thursday evening, Weinshanker made his case to about 150 Whitehaven residents and around eight or nine candidates in this election year. And he said the chief problem is Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland won’t talk to him about projects he says will open up Whitehaven for future economic development and prosperity.

Graceland's latest expansion plan now comes with a political push by Elvis Presley Enterprises to get Whitehaven residents on the phone and social media in support of the plan.

He urged the Whitehaven residents to call their county commissioners and city council members, touted the hiring Graceland has done with its two completed expansion projects so far, the minority business percentages in the construction and staffing of each and the wages paid. And the biggest applause line of the night was when he talked about the number of concerts Landers Center in Southaven gets that could go to a smaller arena here. He also said the Tanger Outlet center near Landers Center and also in Southaven, could have been in Memphis. And he got more applause when he talked about the ongoing delay in streetscape improvements for Elvis Presley Boulevard from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive and several dozen power outages in the area he’s been complaining about to MLGW.

The first test of this will be at Monday’s Shelby County Commission meeting where the commission votes on a resolution that would say the commission supports the arena project contingent on a court ruling that says the financing plan does not violate the city and county noncompete on FedExForum with the Grizz. But the real battlefield here is City Hall.

The hits keep on coming for the TNReady student achievement tests. The day after the Tennessee Legislature adjourned for the year and did so late Wednesday evening because of legislative wrangling over TNReady problems, a dump truck accidentally cut the fiber optic line providing Internet access for many of the state’s school districts. Chalkbeat details the latest hitch of the week including log-in issues on day one, an alleged cyber attack on day two and some slowness on day three tracked to a software update overnight.

Before this latest problem, Shelby County Schools estimated it had spent $46 million in the run-up to the testing period. There are still some decisions to be made by the school system. And the school board, which includes parents of SCS students preparing for the testing this week, that will be voting on those decisions is none too happy with how things have gone this week.


Here’s a follow up from our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard on how the House and Senate broke their gridlock on TNReady legislation Wednesday night to end the session Sine Die. Not only is the issue likely to surface next year in the capitol, there are some lingering tensions between the two chambers over how this ended.

And at session’s end, more thoughts from Memphis legislators about the Legislature’s punishment of the city for the removal of Confederate monuments in city parks. And some of those pushing the move to cut $250,000 in state funding for the city’s bicentennial observance next year deny that the funding was a straw man to allow for a venting of emotions that was never meant to come to the city in the first place.

Some of the mural artists whose work got painted over by the city on Willett north of Lamar filed suit in Memphis federal court Wednesday against the city. This is a dozen artists including some whose murals remain up but were targeted by several city council members as offensive. They allege the city violated a federal act that protects such public art, at least giving artists a chance to preserve their work in some way before it is taken down or covered up. The lawsuit also refers to the public works crews who mistakenly painted over the murals on one side of Willett instead of the ones the council members complained about as the “Beige Patrol.” The lawsuit is what Paint Memphis Inc. founder Karen Golightly predicted would be the next step in the controversy.

Tigers basketball coach Penny Hardaway may represent a new school of recruiting although he will be competing with the likes of former Tigers coach John Calipari for the same prospects in some cases.

Old school Calipari-era recruitment or new school Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller? That’s the question. But don’t expect too much reaction to that as Hardaway and Miller et al are just getting started with Tigers basketball with a lot of success right out of the box. Nevertheless, Don Wade writes that the two schools of recruiting – and they do have their differences starting with Hardaway and Miller being NBA veterans – will be competing for some of the same players.

Green gentrification among the topics discussed downtown at this week's RegionSmart Summit.

In Don’s “Press Box” column, he pans the report the NCAA commissioned that was released this week on corruption in college basketball.

Notes from Thursday’s RegionSmart Summit Downtown that The Daily News sponsored along with the Urban Land Institute including comments about “green gentrification” and a lot of discussion of the city’s riverfront plan including the Fourth Bluff efforts.

“Telehealth” efforts at Baptist include a service called TeleStroke for 24/7 consultations in a situation in which seconds count. Telehealth also includes new ICU monitoring technology that allows offsite ICU registered nurses to monitor patient vital signs when nurses might be tending to an emergency elsewhere in ICU.

Mona Spa has invested $500k in new laser technology for its Mona Esthetics business in Laurelwood.

Barrett Rich, a former Tennessee State Trooper and Republican state representative, is President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. Marshal for west Tennessee. Rich served three terms in Nashville and was House majority whip as Republicans became the majority in both chambers with the 2010 elections. The nomination goes to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Let’s all pause a moment in memory of The Stage Stop. The Raleigh music venue closed not too long ago with a reunion show by Lord Tracy that included Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas taking the stage. The circa 1973 retail strip the club was in at 4336 Stage Road sold this week for $365,000.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled the state’s ban on the herbicide dicamba is back on, reversing earlier restraining orders from two lower court judges in two counties. The ban took effect last week and runs through Halloween.

City Housing and Community Development director Paul Young is our guest on “Behind The Headlines” to talk about the ambitious South City redevelopment project that is about to start building on part of the site where Foote Homes once stood. Our discussion includes a lot of detail about what South City means, gentrification concerns and what happens to the several hundred families who once lived in the city’s last large public housing project.

The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, is about the Heritage Trail part of South City – a set of several dozen historic sites being promoted inside and outside the South City area with the Universal Life Insurance building as a prominent trailhead of sorts. The goal is for the considerable history of the area to inform what happens next in its comeback and create the kind of stability that will help to leverage private investment in the area.

The PDF of the new edition is up now on this website. The hard copies are on the street Friday morning and the online version of the story, including an online extra story about the Forrest slave market, go up on this website Friday afternoon.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
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BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751