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VOL. 133 | NO. 162 | Thursday, August 16, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Southgate Signs, Suburban Deadline and Kingsbury Allegations

By Bill Dries

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Seven months after it closed, the Kroger supermarket at the Southgate shopping center reopened Wednesday as a CashSaver grocery store in what has to be a blueprint for future efforts but is also nonetheless something that is not easily replicated. Showing the way on this has been The Works Inc. at its store at the South Memphis Farmers Market. We wrote about this earlier this year just as the Southgate solution began to take shape.

After eight years, the local ownership group of One Commerce Square has sold the skyscraper in the city skyline.

The group of Memphians who bought One Commerce Square eight years ago, made improvements to the skyscraper that is part of the city's skyline and took it from a 30 percent occupancy rate to 72 percent, recently sold to a real estate investor and talk to us about why they decided the time was right to sell.

The retirement of Jim Barksdale from the FedEx board.

The ballot for the Nov. 6 election day -- and the early voting period Oct. 17 - Nov. 1, is just about complete with Thursday's noon filing deadline for the contenders in the municipal elections in five of the county's six suburban towns and cities. Arlington is the only one of the six not on the ballot. There are races for mayor in Bartlett, Germantown and Lakeland with the incumbent mayors in each seeking re-election and each facing a challenge by the latest list from the Shelby County Election Commission of who has pulled petitions and who has filed them. In Millington and Collierville there are elections for aldermen and school boards to be decided. Join us @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, Thursday afternoon to see who is in and who is out in the suburbs.

The Nov. 6 ballot has a few more deadlines and some questions to go before it is complete.

After Thursday's noon deadline, all of those who qualified have a week to withdraw if they wish. Then the Election Commission will set that part of the ballot which already features general election races for state and federal offices, topped by the statewide races for Tennessee Governor and the U.S. Senate.

But as they say on late night television, "Wait, there's more." There could be three races for Memphis City Council seats on the November ballot depending on when the three council members who won county government positions in this month's elections decide to resign the council seats. And as it is with everything else in politics -- this is all about the timing. There can be some overlap in a departure from City Hall and an arrival at the County Building under these circumstances. There is enough overlap that if Edmund Ford Jr., Bill Morrison and/or Janis Fullilove draw this out the races may not make it on the November ballot. And the remaining 10 council members would appoint their successors to serve the year and change left in their four-year terms of office on the city side.

The election commission says their cutoff to get the council races on the ballot is 76 days before the election, which means they would have to be notified in writing of the vacancy and a request for a special election in the form of a council resolution by Aug. 22. 

City Council member Kemp Conrad with a Twitter response the day after he tabled the historic district ordinance he had been working on since June. Conrad said the Tennessee Historical Commission made the compromise untenable by an 11th hour letter that "threatened" to endanger historic preservation funding from the state to the city including funding for the National Civil Rights Museum. Here's the recap of the unexpected twist. Conrad and other council members were quick to note the city's prior history with the historical commission over Confederate monuments.

Conrad's tweet in that regard Wednesday: "The point I made was that it was ironic that as statue sympathizers, they were using the national civil rights museum to aid in their cause with scare tactics. The real unfortunate irony is likely how much worse it will now be for the preservation community in Memphis."

We also heard from Jon Shivers, the director of the Beale Street entertainment district about the ongoing council discussion on safety and crowd control measures in the district. By his count, the district has had eight stampedes on Saturday nights into Sunday mornings this year from April to August -- some with bodily injuries and property damage.

Beale Street's security and crowd control measures are about to be debated and discussed again at City Hall.

That is without the cover charge by the Beale Street Merchants Association that leaders of the association contend deterred such incidents. That is still a very lively debate with the council that voted to abolish the cover charge on Saturday nights starting at 10 p.m. during the spring and summer peak season on Beale.

Event Risk Management Solutions, the consulting firm hired by the council using revenue accumulated when the cover charge was in effect, concluded in its report to the Beale Street Task Force that the stampedes don't appear to be a function of the crowded conditions in the district. ERMS found it difficult to say precisely what triggered about half of the 27 stampedes it chronicled from 2013-2018. The report also notes a street party atmosphere in the district but outside the nightclubs. And ERMS found that when the checkpoints without the cover charges are up, 45 percent of those entering the district are arriving and staying in 37 percent of the street space of a district whose formal borders are between Second and Fourth Streets. Also the largest group of visitors after 11 p.m. are 23-31 year olds. The 21 year olds come earlier. Make of that what you will.

Chalkbeat on the allegations that Kingsbury High's suspended principal pressured teachers and a counselor -- five complaints -- to pass students. This is a continuation of the Shelby County Schools' earlier investigation of grade tampering that began with allegations at Trezevant High School. The same team that issued the report on that and other allegations is investigating what happened at Kingsbury.

In his "View From The Hill" column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard, takes in the Legislature's summer debate on the future of TNReady student testing and finds "blunt language."

Looking in on Anthony Miller of the Tigers at Bears training camp.

The Memphis team in the United Soccer League doesn't have a name yet, but it does have a coach -- Tim Mulqueen.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396