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VOL. 133 | NO. 6 | Monday, January 8, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Tax Reform Pay Raises, Minority Business Kinks and Elvis at 83

By Bill Dries

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A busy but ultimately slow weekend on the Confederate monuments front as a total of fewer than 100 opponents of the removal of the city’s two most visible monuments actively protested Saturday either on the interstate loop or in the “protest area” by Health Sciences Park.

Memphis Police once again mounted a major show of force in the two parks involved starting with their Friday evening closing and a Saturday contingency plan that seemed to include just about every scenario and more black clothing than a DKNY convention

That’s not to say this wasn’t an interesting chapter in an issue that has been around for decades in Memphis. And we look at how things have shifted since the Forrest and Davis statues came down Dec. 20.

Three of the city’s major banks and FedEx have pledged to boost pay and benefits with the passage of tax reform in Congress before Christmas and it is the result of a cut in the corporate tax rate. One estimate is the earnings of public companies could be boosted by 5 to 10 percent.

That piece dovetails with the cover story by Andy Meek in our weekly, The Memphis News, that is a forecast of the year ahead including some optimism about economic growth overall in the city.

Shelby County commissioners hold their first session of the new year Monday. Not on the agenda for now is a renewed discussion about minority and locally owned business regulations the commission approved a year ago. Those rules are still being untangled and interpreted in different ways and it looks like the commission is moving toward a fix that the body could vote on at its first meeting.

The commission will meet at 4 p.m. Monday instead of the usual 3 p.m. so commissioners can attend funeral services at Idlewild Presbyterian for Lewis Donelson, the former city council member and cofounder of the modern Republican Party in Tennessee. Donelson died last week at the age of 100. Funeral services at Idlewild start at 2 p.m.

The rest of the week’s activities as reflected in The Week Ahead include what would have been Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday. Birthday cake at Guest House Monday morning after the mayors do the honors outside the mansion in Whitehaven.

The Tennessee Legislature goes back to work Monday in Nashville and President Donald Trump is nearby for the American Farm Bureau Federation convention along with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. There are well documented differences and a very public parting of the ways in 2017 that were a long time in coming. But Corker’s role in this is part of political protocol when the President is on the road. And politicians and the people who make a living watching the every move politicians make pay a lot of attention to protocol when someone misses a part of it. It’s called a clue along the way to future moments that do count for a lot – like a very public parting of the ways. The signs rarely fail to tell us something about what those involved don’t want to talk about at any given time.

Democratic state Representative Raumesh Akbari makes her announcement Monday morning on whether she will run for re-election or go for the state Senate seat Lee Harris is giving up to run for Shelby County Mayor. When it happens you will find it first @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols

Republican state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown has drawn a Democratic challenger in his re-election bid.

Gabriela Salinas was also among those who pulled petitions Friday on the opening day of the filing period for those running in the August state and federal primaries. Kelsey also pulled his petition on opening day.

Salinas is a cancer survivor and former patient at St. Jude. Her resume includes being a research technologist in the hospital’s department of chemical biology and therapeutics.

Kelsey immediately took note of Salinas although he never mentioned her by name in an email fundraising alert to supporters that went out Saturday.

“Yesterday I had an opponent announce she is running against me!” the appeal began. Kelsey then goes on to note that once the Tennessee Legislature goes into session Monday, he cannot raise or collect contributions to his re-election effort until April.

Former Shelby County Election Commissioner George Monger made it official as the weekend began with an opening in southeast Memphis. He will be running in the Democratic primary for county commission District 13 in a challenge of Republican incumbent Steve Basar. More on this when we next meet.

First robo-call honors of the election year go to J.B. Smiley Jr. in his race for the Shelby County Commission open District 8 seat now held by the term-limited Walter Bailey. I really need some kind of short hand or acronym for term limited. Ideas? Suggestions?

A further look at the filings on Friday’s opening day for candidates to pull petitions in the August statewide primaries shows:

Bill Lee of Franklin is the first of Republican six-pack for Governor to formally pull his qualifying petition.

John Boatner of Memphis has pulled in the Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat now held by Republican David Kustoff.

Lynette Williams of Memphis has pulled in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Perennial U.S. Senate candidate Larry Crim of Antioch has gone from being a Democrat to being a Republican. You may remember that two years ago he challenged U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis in the Democratic primary here. Crim still has the right to run and I have the right to report he doesn’t live anywhere near the district. But that was 2016.

Don Wade on a one-and-done college basketball prospect in Oklahoma that is drawing the attention of the Grizz provided the Grizz miss the playoffs and thus get a top five pick in the next NBA lottery. There doesn’t seem to be much question about the missing the playoffs part. But the questions has shifted to whether the Grizz can get a top three pick or forget about any shot at Trae Young

LaSimba Gray, the long-time pastor of New Sardis Baptist Church, retiring Sunday after 25 years as pastor of the congregation on East Holmes Road. Gray has a longer record of activism from Operation PUSH to the political arena and numerous issues campaigns in the Memphis community. Gray said in his Sunday address that he approaches retirement with “great ambivalence.” And before Friday’s NAACP press conference on Confederate monuments, Gray said with a wink that some of his friends doubt he will retire. He may be the retired pastor emeritus of New Sardis but I think you will still be hearing from Gray.

The Oxford Eagle via AP on Splinter Creek housing development near Oxford, which is becoming a guide for sustainable development in rural areas.

The Washington Times gets the VIP treatment for a piece on a weekend in Memphis.

The Memphis News Almanac: new city council, auto thefts in 1958 and election day in Memphis 1904.

PROPERTY SALES 50 226 2,557
MORTGAGES 44 145 1,731
BUILDING PERMITS 204 569 5,701