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VOL. 133 | NO. 9 | Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dries

Bill Dries

Last Word: Mural Madness, Madison Plans and New Judges

By Bill Dries

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Maybe this discussion was bound to happen in a city where murals have been going up at a pretty good clip for several years now. At first, it was a rather startling form of civic witness in a new kind of Memphis boosterism that was a reaction to years of downing Memphis as the dominant civic monologue. And it rapidly became about how much the murals could speak to the real Memphis – in other words pro-Memphis but with an edge and more than a nod to the city’s reality. That’s a lot for a mural to pull off.

So, here we are. Murals have now become the face of a public art controversy – specifically the latest edition of the Paint Memphis murals on Lamar Avenue. Here are some of the contours of the controversy as we know it today. This is not a new controversy. Elected bodies that fund public art at least in our city have an interesting relationship with art especially when that art is provocative. And sometimes it doesn’t have to be provocative. There are some elected officials who still grumble about the 15-year old shiny steel sculpture on the southwest corner of the Cannon Center – for the record: “Roof Like Fluid Flung Over the Plaza" by Vito Acconci.

Grizz over the Pelicans at FedExForum Wednesday evening 105 - 102.

It was just this past November that Eighty3, the restaurant at the Madison Hotel shut down. And we know more about the plans beyond that closing. The owners of the Madison have an overhaul planned to the east, at the corner of Main and Madison. Sam’s Hamburgers and Check into Cash will give way to a renovated building anchored by a restaurant, according to plans submitted to the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Two tenants in the Bakery DevelopmentMonroe and Lauderdale area – are now owners of their spaces in the $73 million mixed use project taking shape and the Hampton Inn Beale Street sells.

You know your city has problems around transportation other than cars when the new leader of a bike share program uses the term “sadistic” to describe the challenge that caused him to accept the job heading the Explore Bike Share effort.

Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, in his “View From The Hill” column has more on retaliation in the Tennessee Legislature for the removal of the city’s two most prominent Confederate memorials.

Elsewhere in the capitol, a push since the opening gavel by the Democratic minorities for another try at Medicaid expansion. But the insurance industry is lobbying for a way around the Legislature’s ban on the use of federal healthcare funding to react to problems like the closing of rural hospitals.

Action on two judicial fronts Wednesday, attorney Tommy Parker is a federal judge with the U.S. Senate vote on his nomination last year by President Donald Trump and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Deputy DA Jennifer Nichols as the newest Shelby County Criminal Court Judge. That leaves a Senate vote on Trump’s nomination of state Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville to the federal court bench with Sen. Lamar Alexander saying he wants that to happen soon. Meanwhile, Norris is still Senate Republican leader in Nashville and thus was there for the opening gavel Tuesday.

The Criminal Court Judge position goes on the August ballot for a special election along with the two special elections already on the ballot for Circuit Court Judge. With Norris’s resignation from the Legislature, once the Senate does vote on his nomination to the bench, there will then be a special race for his state Senate seat starting with an August primary

Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker working on changes that will extend the U.S.-Iran nuclear pact as he also voted Wednesday on the confirmation of Tommy Parker to the federal bench here. It turns out, according to the Politico piece, this is one of the things he and Trump talked about Monday on the Air Force One flight into Nashville.

In the capitol of office space at Poplar and Ridgeway, a boutique law firm relocates on Shady Grove Road and adds a training program to go with the practice, does away with the ritual of an attorney’s office and moves away from billable hours.

Bartlett Schools superintendent David Stephens in District Administration – a trade magazine for school superintendents.

Here is the 2018 schedule for Memphis International Raceway starting Saturday with UTV track finals – what happens to races when it snows? This is a pretty busy schedule of 110 days of racing – drag strip, oval track and road course.

We end with another kind of competition – the Memphis-Shelby County Spelling Bee, which won’t be happening this year because it has no local sponsor. It’s folded into the spelling bee in Nashville sponsored by the Tennessee Titans. That’s right our spelling champions have to go to Nashville for the first round. Kudos to the Titans for walking the walk. But this is … unacceptable on so many levels.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 437 16,061
MORTGAGES 76 508 18,556
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 56 2,461
BUILDING PERMITS 241 876 33,390
BANKRUPTCIES 64 301 10,314
BUSINESS LICENSES 15 125 5,303
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 17 125 6,273
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 98 3,511