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VOL. 133 | NO. 8 | Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Rate Hike No Go, No Abortion Vote Recount and Infill

By Bill Dries

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A foggy night, rising temperatures and the prospect of snow by Friday evening. This sounds like a familiar setting for something unexpected in Memphis while the old year is still a recent memory and the new year is still new. Tigers on a tear Tuesday evening at FedExForum, beating Tulane 96 – 89.

As that was happening the Memphis City Council was meeting for the first time in 2018. And they had a lot of their plates. A quick summary – the long delayed vote on the Frayser dump expansion happened and it was unanimously voted down. Down went gas and electric rate hikes by MLGW. But that may not be the end of that story. The council, after all, reconsidered its rejection of the water rate increase and approved it. The administration wants to start moving on de-annexation starting with Eads and a part of southwest Memphis. No final vote Tuesday on a ballot question for November about extending city term limits for the council and mayor. And the council is trying to get the city public works department to paint over some of those controversial Paint Memphis murals on Lamar.

And while the council’s system for microphones, electronic voting and all things audio, video and webcast-oriented remains riddled with bugs and glitches, there was a technological triumph to report. The council’s electronic voting system includes a timer that is used to determine when citizens and council members have used their allotted time – yes, council members too have an allotted time. At one time, the timer made a gong sound and cut the microphone when someone’s time was up. Council chairman Berlin Boyd expressed warm memories last month of the gong sound amid his frustration over problems with the system as a whole. And Tuesday evening, the gong was back. Its first use was on Shelby County commissioner Eddie Jones, who was at City Hall to speak against the Frayser dump. Boyd jokingly told Jones that the gong was only for county commissioners.

More on MLGW and the murals when next we meet.

A big FedEx building permit came across our desk Tuesday -- $35 million for an expansion of its World Hub at Memphis International.

The opening day this year for the Tennessee Legislature came with some drama in the House over another try at Medicaid expansion. Andy Sher of The Chattanooga Times Free Press recaps.

Filing and pulling redux. We look at three young contenders who are entering, returning to and trying to advance in retail politics locally. Different stories with a common belief that 2018 is a critical year in the arc of what elections say about where voters are at.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court says there will be no recount of the 2014 vote on a state constitutional amendment that put tighter restrictions on access to abortions in the state. The lawsuit was over the link of the outcome in that referendum to a majority not of the votes cast in the referendum but a majority of the number of votes cast in the race for Governor on the same ballot. You might remember, or you might not, that part of the campaign on the amendment involved a strategy of urging those favoring the restrictions to avoid voting in the race for Governor to lower the threshold needed to pass the amendment. The Tennessean maps it out.

The latest on Shelby County commissioners trying to shape up the minority and locally owned business rules they put in place more than a year ago.

Infill abounds with one project on Central near Barksdale, the University of Memphis area and Whitehaven.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Laura Fenton of Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors talks about her English teacher at Germantown High.

PROPERTY SALES 0 291 21,272
MORTGAGES 0 160 16,194
BUILDING PERMITS 258 692 41,920
BANKRUPTCIES 1 117 6,579