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VOL. 133 | NO. 7 | Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Soccer Returns, Confederate Reprisals and Megasite Politics

By Bill Dries

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So much going on off the field and on parts of the field in Atlanta Monday evening as Alabama beat Georgia – a clothesline, a punch thrown on the field and an attempt to throw another punch on the sidelines at an Alabama coach and all of that from a single Alabama player. So a lot of speculation after the College Football Playoff National Championship about how that will be resolved. Alabama over Georgia 26-23 in overtime.

Back here, Monday was soccer day in Memphis. The United Soccer League announced the Memphis team owned by the Memphis Redbirds ownership group will play at AutoZone Park, of course when the Redbirds aren’t playing baseball there. Opening day is more than a year away in March 2019. The city’s best known soccer player, U.S. Men’s National Team Goalkeeper Tim Howard was the big presence at the kickoff and as it turns out has been talking with the ownership group about how to develop the audience for soccer.

That in a town identified as a basketball town where basketball – Tigers and Grizz – is in a bit of a lull – or slump – depending on your optimism. And where football is again asserting itself in the city’s sports culture. And a little bit further back there is a soccer heritage –the Americans, Rogues, and Storm. You forgot about the Storm didn’t you? And what shall we call this team?

Lots of filing and pulling action at the Shelby County Election Commission and lots of political dominoes falling. At the top is state Rep. Raumesh Akbari deciding Monday to go for Lee Harris’s state Senate seat as he runs for mayor. London Lamar will pull her petition to run for Akbari’s seat Tuesday morning at the election commission. See what we mean about dominoes. Meanwhile, Shelby County Schools board member Scott McCormick, also a former Memphis City Council member and very nearly interim Memphis Mayor had Willie Herenton stuck to his original resignation date in 2009, looks to be the Republican attempt to take back the suburban state House seat Democrat Dwayne Thompson took in an upset two years ago.

This is opening day in Nashville for the Tennessee Legislature and even before the gavel falls there is an indication of reprisals for the city’s removal of two Confederate monuments last month. House Majority Leader Glen Casada of Franklin: “If Memphis can afford to practically give away taxpayer property, then obviously they do not need state funds for their pet projects in the 2018 budget.”

City chief legal officer Bruce McMullen on “Behind The Headlines” would probably not be surprised at the sentiment. The idea that the Legislature would act a third time to make any removal of the monuments closer to impossible was a major motivation for City Hall’s drive to do this before the gavel falls in Nashville.

The Washington Post on President Donald Trump’s Monday visit to the American Farm Bureau convention in Nashville and the flight aboard Air Force one from Kentucky to Tennessee

It’s council day at City Hall and expect lots of discussion about the plan by Kroger to close two storesLamar and Airways and Southgate in about three weeks or so. Also some last minute additions to the committee list.

LEED status for Crosstown Concourse.

Grad Academy, the charter school under contract with the state-run Achievement School District to take over the old South Side High -- the most recent South Side, not the original, will close its South Memphis 9-12 school at the end of the current school year. The announcement Monday afternoon cites the end of the five-year contract with the ASD. This is the second charter operator in the ASD to pull out of the district. The first being Gestalt which took on two North Memphis schools – Klondike and Humes – in addition to its Power Center Academy schools in Hickory Hill independent of the ASD that remain in operation. The local charter group running MLK Prep High School in Frayser took over at Humes but no new operator was found for Klondike.

Coming soon – a close to final design for Memphis Zoo parking from City Hall. Powers Hill, the design firm hired by the Overton Park Conservancy and Memphis Zoo, submitted a plan that OPC, the zoo and the city have reviewed. City chief operating officer Doug McGowen said in a written statement Monday that the administration “mandated” several design changes that are now being incorporated. Expect to see the results later this month. There has been some criticism of a southern loop for traffic in the parking lot that runs along a border with the Overton Park greensward.

And there are even some alternate plans outside the Powers-Hill work that move the loop and involve no taking of the western and northern edges of the greensward. McGowen isn’t saying what the administration’s changes are. But he is saying what they are not. “It’s also worth noting that there are a handful of other designs floating around the internet claiming that the parking spaces required by the council resolution can be achieved while staying within the current footprint of the lot. This, however, is not possible given the specifics of the resolution.” The specifics are the creation of an additional 415 parking spaces when the zoo parking is reconfigured.

Last week in Jackson, an annual legislative luncheon drew a lot of candidates on the 2018 ballot – mostly contenders for Governor – and the topic of the megasite in Haywood County dominated the conversation with pledges all around to complete the last of the three industrial sites that has never had a tenant.

Sherra Wright waived extradition in California Monday and should be back in Memphis soon to face conspiracy, murder and attempted murder charges in the murder of her ex-husband, Tiger and Grizz basketball great Lorenzen Wright eight years ago.

A police shooting in Horn Lake, Mississippi Monday before dawn.

Fodor’s on the Memphis BBQ crawl. Is that how we spell barbecue?

Justin Timberlake tour dates announced Monday including a May 30 end of tour date at FedExForum. It might not be the end, there could be another leg or additional shows depending on the demand. First crack at the tickets is Wednesday. Rolling Stone on the tour mechanics.

The return of Vintage901 Wine Festival in March.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396