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VOL. 133 | NO. 136 | Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Jenkins Ruling, No More City Court Clerk and Harwell's Quest

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Making your early voting plan for Friday’s debut of the voting period in advance of the Aug. 2 election day? Well, you might want to hold off until after Tuesday morning. That’s when the latest changes could get set in stone … or not.

Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Corey Strong and Election Commission attorney John Ryder await the ruling Monday from Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins in the early voting lawsuits.

Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins ruled Monday evening that the Shelby County Election Commission violated at least the spirit of the state’s open meetings law when it passed two early voting plans – one that made Agricenter the only early voting site to open four days ahead of the rest and then changed it to make that three early-early voting sites. Yes, that is how they are being described. Jenkins ruled that because of where they are they also violated the voting rights act and the Tennessee Constitution and he ordered two more early-early voting sites and cut the early-early voting period down to two days instead of four. Here’s our account of the ruling and what it means so far.

The issue of transparency and openness has been a strong undercurrent of this fast moving controversy as well that Monday’s ruling didn’t completely settle. Ruling that the election commission violated the spirit of the open meetngs law is not the same as finding the election commission violated the actual law.

As the seven-hour hearing was underway, Republican nominee for Shelby County Mayor David Lenoir announced he won’t be showing up for the Memphis branch NAACP mayoral debate Tuesday evening with Democratic rival Lee Harris at the National Civil Rights Museum, citing online comments about him by the moderator Wendi C. Thomas and the political uproar over the early voting sites.

The Memphis City Council should have quite the conversation at an afternoon committee session about a ballot question for the November ballot that would do away with the elected office of City Court Clerk and make your traffic tickets a part of what the city treasurer’s office does, with court costs of $1 by the terms of the referendum. Not a new idea. City Court Clerk Thomas Long suggested something similar to this as he was leaving office in 2015 and Kay Robilio, the present clerk, was about to take office. The city court system would remain in place under terms of this proposal. Here is almost all of the council day Tuesday.

The one remaining part turns out to be a big decision by the Strickland administration on de-annexation. And it was originally scheduled to show up in the council committee session Tuesday but has now dropped back to the second council day in July. Coming to the plate is the de-annexation of Southwind, Windyke and Rocky Point and the administration says the city will keep 2.2 square miles of Frayser acreage at Highway 51 and Old Millington as well as 4 square miles of Raleigh along the Loosahatchie River.

Across the Main Street Mall from City Hall at the Downtown Memphis Commission we should know more Tuesday about the plan for a hotel at Fourth and Beale and mixed use at 18 S. Main St.

Reaction to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court:

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen: “It is a sadly predictable and a foregone conclusion that Trump’s pick, from a shortlist approved by Leonard Leo and The Federalist Society, an extreme conservative legal group, will not only entrench the 5-4 conservative dominance that gave us Citizens United, gutted the Voting Rights Act and, in its most recent term, trampled on labor rights and gave extremists the right to discriminate and erode the protections long afforded minorities, but will move the Court even further to the right. I have profound concerns that, with the choice of Brett Kavanaugh, the Court will be further emboldened to roll back women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, affirmative action in higher education and other guarantees of democracy and equal opportunity.”

U.S Rep. David Kustoff: “I am very pleased to hear of @realDonaldTrump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh will be a great, conservative addition to the bench, and I urge the Senate’s swift confirmation.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: “The president has nominated a well-qualified jurist. Unfortunately, the Senate has gotten into a bad habit of treating good people as ‘innocent until nominated.’ Instead, I hope this confirmation process will be conducted with dignity and respect so that we may learn more about Judge Kavanaugh’s character, temperament and attitudes.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker: “For more than 12 years, Judge Kavanaugh has served honorably on the federal bench, hearing critical cases before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a well-respected jurist who understands the importance of upholding the Constitution and applying the law in a fair and independent manner.”


Associated Press on the Trump tariffs as a campaign issue in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn.

State House speaker Beth Harwell in Memphis last week to talk about her different campaign in the August statewide Republican primary for Governor also has a new plan for a Medicaid expansion that is a review of the federal waiver for the existing TennCare program. She says the review could create enough savings for a Medicaid expansion different than the one proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and crushed by the legislature three years ago.

Mississippi’s work requirement for Medicaid hasn’t gotten the federal waiver legislators there were hoping for when they approved the work requirement.

The Epping Way leg of Wolf River Greenway in Raleigh is already being used.

Bird, Explore Bike Share, shared mobility and shared services all together on “Behind The Headlines.” Put the scooters and bikes together and you have 32,000 to 35,000 trips in about a month’s time.

In our Green Emphasis, the road work involved in keeping Explore Bike Share rolling.

Epping Way’s grand opening comes this fall but the Wolf River Greenway trailhead on the northernmost bend of the Wolf River is already open and being discovered over and over again in Raleigh.

And Clean Memphis marks a decade of service.

Meanwhile, MATA is planning an electric bus route between the Airways Transit Center and employers in southeast Memphis. The transit authority got word Monday that it is getting $20 million in CMAQ money over three years to buy 10 new all electric buses, build electric charging stations and to operate the new route.

Veteran federal prosecutor Joe Murphy is the new first assistant in the Memphis U.S. Attorney’s office, U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant announced Monday. He succeeds Larry Laurenzi, who retired in May to join the government enforcement and investigations group at Baker Donelson. Murphy comes to first assistant from being chief of the office’s criminal division and before that chief of the organized crime and drug enforcement task force.

It’s been 21 years since Mario Reed played his last football game – a game for the Millington Central High Trojans that left his paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. At Studio on the Square Tuesday evening a documentary on Reed will premiere.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751