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VOL. 133 | NO. 23 | Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Wiretaps in the Wright Case, Target Layoffs and SCS Looks To Move

By Bill Dries

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Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis among those boycotting the State of the Union address Tuesday evening by President Donald Trump. “The president is unworthy of the podium, the position and the power.” Republican Congressman David Kustoff of Germantown among those not boycotting SOTU. “Just one year after president Trump took the oath of office, our economy is the strongest it has been in decades. … We passed historic tax reform and we bolstered our military and support our veterans. Last year, the president kept his promises and tonight, he told the American people that he is not done.”

Some more clues about what the case against Sherra Wright and Billy Turner for the 2010 murder of Tigers basketball star Lorenzen Wright might look like. During a preliminary hearing for Turner Tuesday, his attorney said the prosecution has wiretaps and audio recordings and about 20,000 pages of detail that he will be going through.

Nearly 500 people will lose their jobs when a Target distribution center closes in April in southeast Memphis. The word Tuesday ends the tax break granted by EDGE in late 2014. Target contracts with the warehouse owners, which began as Innotrac, a third party logistics firm that in a merger with eBay Enterprises became a company called Radial. And Target confirmed it is not renewing its contract at the distribution center in the Lamar and Holmes area.

Lots of work tracking who owns what and what the tax breaks granted more than three years ago really mean, including our associate editor Kate Simone who also found the state press release from 2014 when this project was hailed by state and local officialdom as bringing “high quality jobs” to Memphis. The PILOT application shows the average salary at around $28,000. And Target got $500,000 in funding from EDGE and WIN – federal funding – for workforce training.

This was at the other end of a year that included a celebratory announcement at FedExForum announcing that Conduit Global was opening a Cordova call center with $2 million in state incentives for a pledge of 1,000 jobs at about the same pay scale as Target. Less than a year after the company cut the ribbon in Cordova and opened with 700 employees, Conduit laid off 600 of the 700 employees.

Memphis is at a point in its development that with a healthy economy there are some big shifts in where some highly visible parts of everyday life have been for quite a while. The Brooks is probably the example that comes to mind immediately. And now add the central office of Shelby County Schools at Hollywood and Avery – for decades the home to the county’s two public school systems before the 2013 merger and 2014 demerger. There was actually a wall between the two offices until the merger. SCS is negotiating to buy the Bayer building at 3030 Jackson, SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced Tuesday night. The school board has authorized him to negotiate with a limit of $6.6 million on the maximum prices the school system is willing to pay.

This opens up more than 12 acres of prime real estate next to the Fairgrounds as the Fairgrounds is about to begin a redevelopment by the city. And that redevelopment includes changes to Tobey Park which is next to the SCS HQ

Former state Senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet is out of the Republican primary race for Governor. Beavers announced Tuesday she is suspending her campaign. That brings the number of major contenders in the primary to five.

Randy Boyd, one of the five, hits the air Thursday with ads in Memphis and the state’s other major media markets that will likely begin as is usually the case with an introduction of the candidate. He’s expected to be followed closely by rival Bill Lee. Meanwhile, another rival, Diane Black, is already offering a review of the Boyd ad campaign. “It will be interesting to see how Randy Boyd’s TV ads in this election apologize for the fact that he abandoned President Trump in the last election.” Via a Tuesday afternoon press release.

By the way, Boyd is exhibit A in a “Runners World” article about the trend of candidates who run for office – not just figuratively but literally.

Coming Thursday morning, a forum of the contenders for Governor, Republican and Democratic at the winter meeting of the Tennessee Press Association in Nashville that will be moderated by our publisher Eric Barnes, who is also TPA president currently. You can watch the forum live on The Daily News Video page Thursday morning starting at 8:30 a.m. The forum itself starts at 9:30 a.m. A link coming up in the Thursday edition that goes up here Wednesday afternoon.

The latest filing activity at the Shelby County Election Commission in advance of the May and August primaries shows the fields are beginning to gel with about two weeks left in the filing period for the May ballot.

Mediation surfaces again in the Confederate monuments controversy.

In just about two weeks baseball spring training begins. The Tigers baseball team already heading toward a season opener as the major league players are just reporting to training camp. And that means assessing a team that lost five players in the offseason.

A Memphis surgeon in the Methodist Healthcare system is leading the nonprofit Memphis Mission of Mercy that is about to build a mission hospital in a farming community in the Philippines.

AP’s Jonathan Mattise on the state comptrollers report on exemptions to Tennessee’s open records law that found 538 exemptions from the law. Consider that when this law was passed in 1957, there were two exemptions.

The University of Tennessee athletic department’s bread and butter – Big Orange football – had an abysmal season. But the department posted a $10.8 million surplus in the fiscal year that ended last June 30.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Shirley Ford, the city’s new chief financial officer talks CAFR, GAAP, GASB and SEFA – not to mention CIP and her first budget season as CFO just on the other side of all of this cold weather and flu.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047