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VOL. 133 | NO. 159 | Monday, August 13, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Tunica Makes Book, The McCalla Ruling and Bush's Exit as Defender

By Bill Dries

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Monday may be the biggest day in Tunica since the dawn of riverfront casinos in the early 1990s. Sports betting opens Monday morning in Tunica with Mississippi officialdom on hand at Horseshoe Tunica along with NFL and Tigers football star DeAngelo Williams who will be among those making the ceremonial first bets at The Book at Horseshoe Tunica.

At about the same time in Whitehaven, Graceland will open its Chapel in the Woods, the wedding chapel on the grounds of Guest House at Graceland. And to mark the opening, 10 couples who met at Graceland and got married will renew their vows at the chapel.

Meanwhile, Downtown a week from today at the federal building we will start to get a better idea of what kind of federal court sanctions the Memphis Police Department will face for what U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla has ruled is a violation of the 1978 consent decree banning the MPD from political surveillance of protesters. McCalla’s ruling in advance of the nonjury trial came down late Friday, effectively changing what happens in the trial. Here is the rundown of what is in the ruling, what it means and some reaction over the weekend.

Among the reaction, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland drew a group of five protesters Saturday afternoon when he spoke at a picnic gathering by Democratic Women of Shelby County to celebrate the blue wave that swept the county general elections about a week ago. Some of the protesters were among those police have been watching as part of the surveillance effort. And seven police officers showed up at the pavilion at Overton Park, where the event was held, in response to their presence. More on that and what Strickland had to say about county funding for MATA when next we meet.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is seeking $30 million in new annual funding to make the bus system a viable and sustainable enterprise.

No wait time or transfer needed for our cover story by Toni Lepeska in the new issue of our weekly, The Memphis News, on MATA’s quest for more funding.

Restaurant Iris is about to reopen and there is a tenant for the Windjammer location in East Memphis.

A deeper look at the economic development study commissioned by the Greater Memphis Chamber and released late last week shows a “lack of collaboration” -- in the words of the report -- between the chamber and EDGE. Not surprisingly, the report recommends sticking with tax abatements – known as PILOTS – as primary economic development incentives. That’s not surprising given the chamber’s insistence on that point. But that isn’t likely to quell the larger civic debate over PILOTs anytime soon, which is really a debate not so much about the incentives but about how they are used. And the report’s general finding that there should be fewer restrictions on incentives still leaves the role of minority business growth goals and other measures around that as a vital and unsettled issue to be discussed.

These issues all will likely surface in the transition underway in county government from the administration of outgoing mayor Mark Luttrell to the administration of incoming mayor Lee Harris. And look for the transition team named by Harris last week to be hard at work and some of the new county commissioners-elect to show up for Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Shelby County Commission.

Also there is the transition to a new Shelby County Public Defender to be appointed by Harris. The departing public defender Stephen Bush, who will remain on until Harris makes his choice, was our guest on “Behind The Headlines” for a sort of exit interview about criminal justice reform.

Mike Conley talks about Grizz off-season moves.

Here is the rest of The Week Ahead. And our reading list “Around Memphis” offers more on the new Justin Timberlake autobiography, Memphis inclusions on the list of the 50 most beautiful college campuses and new Alex Chilton tracks.

PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107