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VOL. 133 | NO. 38 | Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Murals and IRV at City Hall, Alexander on Trump and Schools Standoff

By Bill Dries

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Sometimes when you look at the Election Commission filings in an election season and no one has so much as pulled a petition let alone filed one, your thoughts tend to be along the lines of what is there to focus on beyond the day-to-day activity. And then you get a press release by email that really makes you remember the volatility of this whole business of running for elected office.

The owner of a business that has contracts with the city and county to clean up blighted properties was indicted Tuesday for aggravated littering by a Shelby County grand jury. Prosecutors say they have photos of Vontyna Durham and witnesses to the dumping along Grimes Road in South Memphis last year. And Durham is also a candidate for the Shelby County Commission, running as an independent. She reacted to our story on Facebook: “Wow. I don’t haul tires nor do I dump or go to landfills. I have fulltime employees. … How do you felony vandalized a landfill?”

The lull in filings for the August state and federal primary and county nonpartisan election ballot won’t last long. In fact, there could be yet another judicial race on the ballot with Larry Potter’s announcement this week that he will retire next month.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander in town Wednesday and Tuesday evening he was at the Economic Club where he talked about tax reform and the window dressing of passing tax reform last year. And Alexander told the Memphis gathering why you haven’t heard him say a lot in the way of analysis about President Donald Trump.

The city council had a short agenda Tuesday but lots to discuss especially on the ongoing mural controversy and the matter of ranked-choice voting. Council attorney Allan Wade also talking about why the city is using its lobbyist on a bill that could eliminate RCV statewide. Along the way there was also a plan for a fire station shuffle.

After the council wrapped up Tuesday evening, Shelby County Schools board members heard the state wants to close Hawkins Mills Elementary in Frayser and turn over American Way Middle to the state-run Achievement School District or have SCS partner with a charter to run the school. Superintendent Dorsey Hopson  outlined a path that is none of those options. He also outlined a plan for a Whitehaven K-8 school next school year.

Five years into the rebirth of Overton Square there are some changes. Bar Louie’s key corner location at Madison and Cooper is empty. Lafayette’s is measuring for the coming expansion. And this week, after a bit of a struggle, Stanley Bar-B-Que closed in the space that many will remember as the original home of Paulette’s.

Practicing for the South Memphis Glide Ride this weekend.

Saturday is turning into a busy day around the city for a variety of reasons – an MLK 50 march Downtown, Lincoln Day out east for Republicans, political rallies and gatherings of all partisan shades in a number of places. And then there is the South Memphis Glide Ridea bike ride through South Memphis that starts at the South Memphis Farmers Market. Just remember the glide part. This is a ride, not a race.

The company owned by Memphis Grizzlies controlling owner, Robert Pera, acknowledged Tuesday in a legal filing that some of its officers have been subpoenaed in an SEC probe.

Trouble in the eastern part of the Tennessee delegation to D.C. Roll Call on the House Ethics committee’s investigation of Knoxville Cong. John Duncan Jr.

In our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Steve Weaver of Paragon Bank sees an increase in commercial loan applications as a result of tax reform and he says short term interest rates should continue to rise slowly.

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