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VOL. 133 | NO. 35 | Friday, February 16, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Post Parkland, May County Primary Ballot and Friedman on the Mid East

By Bill Dries

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In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school massacre, local school systems here are talking about their preparations for such instances. And for those who don’t have a child in schools currently, it is something of a commentary about the times many of our children live in. The Shelby County Schools statement Thursday includes the following safety measures already in place:

Any 911 call made from a school phone automatically notifies the school system’s security team.

All on the security team are trained in responding to active shooter reports in a school.

All schools have multiple drills every school year that include a lockdown or intruder scenario.

Each school has a 13-member incident command team for emergencies.

School staff is also trained in how to respond and to follow the instructions of the police and other emergency responders.

Every school has an emergency communications system that alerts families via phone, email and text in the event of an emergency.

SCS is going to require all schools going forward to do more active shooter training in the current school year.

We are such a long way from the school safety patrol.

As the events in Florida were unfolding Wednesday, a bill in Nashville to allow handgun permits to cover carrying in hospitals and sports arenas was voted down in subcommittee. And it withered under opposition from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Hospital Association and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The May county primary ballot is just about set. At Thursday’s filing deadline two county commissioners were effectively re-elected because they have no opposition. Here is the rundown, keeping in mind independent candidates have until April 5 to file for the August county general and all those who made this week’s deadline have another week to withdraw if they wish. The list of candidates shows a lot of new names as well as the local Democratic party fielding contenders in every primary for all 23 county offices on the ballot. And yes my politicos, here is the spread sheet from the Election Commission with separate tabs for the Democratic and Republican primaries.

The husband of Republican contender for Governor Diane Black has hired lobbyists to kill the medical marijuana bill pending in the Tennessee Legislature. The lobbyists gunning for Republican Jeremy Faison’s latest attempt at medical pot are working for Phoenix Sciences Group – the company David Black founded after owning a medical lab before that. In an email exchange with our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard, David Black says Phoenix isn’t a drug testing lab and doesn’t plan to bid on state contracts.

Graceland’s lawsuit against the Grizz over the noncompete clause in the FedExForum contract got thrown out of Chancery Court Thursday. Something tells me this is not the end of the matter. If nothing else there could be an appeal.

First Tennessee follows company bonuses with pay raises that will bring the minimum pay level of its employees to $15 an hour.

Indie Memphis has a film series coming in March and April as part of the community-wide MLK50 observances – the 50th anniversary of the sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film series is made possible by the Remembering George Riley Fund established by John Riley, the brother of the civil rights attorney, from Memphis who died in 2016 in San Francisco. The fund, through the Community Foundation, is also backing a two-month black filmmaker residency for screenwriting on the premise that it would be a film produced in Memphis. The internship includes meeting with those experienced with shooting films in Memphis.

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author Tom Friedman is known for his writing about the Middle East. He’s also known for a view of the region and politics that inspires both criticism and book-reading groups devoted exclusively to his seven books and his columns for the New York Times. But when he was in Memphis this week to speak at a Greater Memphis Chamber event, Friedman didn’t talk about the Middle East until he was answering the very last question from the audience. Before that he talked about digitization and technology’s impact on our life and our politics. He also touched on a topic we’ve been writing about lately and that is the value and purpose of a post high school education.

New ground rules and new geography at Memphis International Airport for Uber and Lyft starting next month. The airport is dispersing Uber and Lyft pickups outside each of the ticketing lobby exits on the outer drive to reduce congestion around the baggage level.

The cover story by Don Wade in our weekly, The Memphis News, sets the table for next week’s Women & Business seminar at The Brooks. And we talk with our panelists – Marjorie Hass of Rhodes College, Dr. Susan Murrmann and attorney Tannera George Gibson about the barriers women face in this time of #metoo and “Time’s Up.”

The PDF of the new issue is up on this website now. The hard copies are in the racks Friday morning. The online version of the cover story goes up here Friday afternoon.

As for The Daily News Seminar, it is Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art at 3:30 p.m. followed by a wine and cheese reception.

In our Friday Sports Section:

The Grizz at the All-Star Break and their dilemma – caught between the NBA draft and immediate results short of the playoffs.

In Don Wade’s “The Press Box” column … a drop in college football attendance overall even though Tigers football at the Liberty Bowl is an exception to the drop. In fact, Tigers football averaged a healthy 36,302 per game last year, which portends a reaction beyond the Fairgrounds in terms of economic impact. But the drop in college football attendance nationwide may be trouble for the Grizz if the attendance in football is dropping because people can watch games at home and there is not tailgating in basketball.

Some disappointment at Rocky Top, reports Dave Link. And it is about the UT football signing class.

Local activist Aaron Fowles on Medium about the city’s effort to see a statewide ban on ranked-choice or instant-runoff voting. Abolishing RCV or IRV is already on the November ballot in a citywide referendum as well as a ballot question that calls for the end of runoff elections in the seven single-member city council district races.

Move-in at the new Innovation Lab at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. And the first tenant is Dr. Monica Jablonski, an ophthalmology professor at UTHSC. Jablonski’s research work is in improving eyedrops and in turn treatments for some eye-related diseases.

DeltaARTS gets a $10,667 grant from the Community Foundation to upgrade its 16-year old home in West Memphis on Rhodes Street. The grant includes some tech upgrades as well.

Four Memphis companies on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for. This is the 8th consecutive year St. Jude has been on the list.

“Behind The Headlines” is a reporters’ roundtable on various topics including the Willett & Lamar murals, charter school plans and of course, politics. Our guests are Laura Faith Kebede of Challkbeat, Ryan Poe of The Commercial Appeal and Toby Sells of The Memphis Flyer. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

PROPERTY SALES 93 424 6,970
MORTGAGES 42 281 4,410
BUILDING PERMITS 196 704 16,619
BANKRUPTCIES 38 174 3,570