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VOL. 133 | NO. 144 | Monday, July 23, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Fuse, TnReady on SCS Literacy Efforts and Death By Amazon?

By Bill Dries

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More than 32,000 of you have voted early in advance of the Aug. 2 election day through Saturday and going into the final week of early voting, which runs through July 28. That compares to 37,168 early voters through the first eight days in 2014 for this same election cycle and 41,310 in 2010 at the same point. In 2010 and 2014 there were 21 early voting sites compared to today’s 27. And the Downtown location was the only site open for the first two days of those early voting periods compared to five of the 27 sites open for the first three days of the current period. For the full 2014 early voting period, keeping in mind the differences, there were 82,403 early voters and in 2010 there were 93,700.

We await the party primary breakdown through Saturday to get a more specific look at the first whole week of balloting. But through the first five days, 9,586 voted in the Democratic primary and 6,976 in the Republican primary.

Early voting in Shelby County has been around for 24 years but is seen as an important barometer in the current election cycle of new political energy in the county.

There have been numerous get out the vote efforts built around early voting – too many to count and a lot that were good for a big single day total at the polls. And everybody watches the early vote closely as a valid indicator of who has the best organization and who is reaching voters. But this election cycle is different, in part because of a Chancery Court ruling on when and where early voting takes place. And that is the subject of our cover story in our weekly The Memphis News.

When all is said and done and the last precinct is in the evening of Aug. 2 we may know a lot more about the limits and pyrrhic balance of attack ads. Eight years ago, Bill Haslam, Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey were the combatants in a hard fought three-way Republican primary for Governor. And there was plenty of questioning of conservative credentials among the three. No one took anything back but Republicans were united for the general election behind Haslam once the primary was over. This time the four-way primary contest among Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Bill Lee and Beth Harwell feels different thanks to the volume of attack ads that have made some points that are going to be hard to forget and which Democrats are certain to use to some degree in the general election campaign – namely the repeated affirmations of allegiance to president Donald Trump. The primary is also a referendum on whether there is a substantial difference between Trump and Trumpism.

A new Black television ad over the weekend qualified her attack ads on Boyd and Lee saying they are both “good men” but political moderates who therefore help to elect Democrats. Lee has said the attack ads show he is winning.

Harwell has been a dramatically different candidate than Boyd, Lee and Black as we outlined earlier this month in our discussion with her while she was campaigning in the city. Shortly after that she made the difference more apparent in a television ad that portrays the other three as bickering children and pledges she will be “the adult in the room.”

Last week, Harwell took the different campaign into new territory pushing her pro-medical marijuana position in television ads timed to coincide with a Nashville press conference offering a detailed position on this beyond an earlier pledge that as governor she would sign a medical marijuana bill passed by the Legislature. That detailed position is she favors the use of oils and additives, not smoking marijuana and not recreational marijuana.

A closer look at the TnReady student achievement scores released last week shows Shelby County Schools literacy efforts appear to be working – specifically a jump of five percentage points in third-grade reading proficiency, Chalkbeat’s Marta W. Aldrich goes through the rest of the SCS percentages as well.

As the weekend began, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland rolled out his highly anticipated proposed overhaul of city sanitation services after setting the stage for it the day before by terminating the city’s contract with Inland Waste for about 35,000 households in Cordova and Hickory Hill. The basics are a separate sanitation division taking the service out of public works, and an October conversion to every other week pick up of yard waste and other curbside waste you might have that doesn’t go in the containers the city provides. The mayor takes this to city council Tuesday because he is seeking the use of city reserve funds to the tune of $6 million to $15 million.

The rest of The Week Ahead including back to school moves, dance moves and electoral moves.

In our Around Memphis reading list “the Memphis slap,” Valero restarts its small crude unit and Coliseum thoughts.

Don Wade’s “Press Box” column focuses on Vanderbilt’s hopes in the tough world of SEC football.

Sledge hammers were used Friday to mark the formal start of the work to convert the former Memphis College of Art Downtown location into a new Arrive hotel.

In advance of Wednesday’s EDGE meeting, a look at JNJ Logistics' request for a 15-year PILOT to move from Getwell to American Wayall within the city of Memphis. Also interesting that when we are trying to get a handle on where this project and others are, we rely on long closed landmarks like the Mall of Memphis and the Circuit City location on American Way. The past doesn’t die in Memphis without a fight or at least a tug on the heart.

Is the sledgehammer the Memphis version of a construction crane? That was among the ceremonial implements Friday at the ceremonial beginning of work in South Main on the new Arrive hotel in the old Memphis College of Art Downtown location. Further word on the two restaurants that will be part of the hotel with demolition starting this week.

The Pendleton and Keystone apartment complexes are bought by a fast growing affordable housing property management company out of Denver.

Forbes on premature predictions of “death by Amazon” for FedEx.

National Civil Rights Museum historian Ryan Jones on the museum’s blog, on the reopening of the Emmett Till case.

In what we today would call Uptown Thursday evening, a group gathered by the old walls on the northwestern corner of A.W. Willis and Front Street to remember the lynching of Lee Walker 125 years ago. The walls on the edge of the A.W. Willis Bridge onto Mud Island are the only remnant of the Shelby County Jail that stood behind them in 1893. Walker, an African-American, was accused of the attempted rape of a white woman after he was arrested in New Albany, Mississippi by a posse several days after the attack. He wasn’t identified by the victim. The sheriff didn’t resist when a mob estimated at several thousand people came for Walker at the jail. They stripped him while beating and stabbing him on the way to hanging him a few block from the jail on a telegraph pole. His body was burned and mutilated and left on the steps of the county courthouse, which at the time would have been about where the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts and Memphis Cook Convention Center are today. A grand jury indicted the sheriff and his chief deputy, two captains on the Memphis Police Department and several others for their role in the lynching. But prosecutors said they couldn’t seat an impartial jury to hear the case, seating only one juror out of a pool of 500. Walker’s lynching is now the subject of a new historical marker by the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis.

The Memphis News Almanac: Loeb closes on Overton Square, Hickman building demolition delayed, wild west shows at the Mid-South Fair and Sherman arrives in Memphis.

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