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VOL. 133 | NO. 146 | Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: T.O. Jones, One Beale's Launch and De-Annexation in Trouble

By Bill Dries

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You might call it the final act of the MLK 50 observances around our city this year. With very little fanfare at the start of Tuesday’s city council session, the council honored T.O. Jones, the leader of the union representing city sanitation workers and the leader of the 1968 strike by those workers. Jones was a pivotal figure in the strike who soon after lost his position with the local union in the internal politics of AFSCME as the local became a powerful political symbol.

Some of the surviving strikers from 1968 mentioned Jones in interviews during the observances in April. Baxter Leach, an outspoken union organizer in 1968, saying before a commemoration at Mason Temple in April that the union didn’t treat Jones fairly in the squeeze that came after the national attention on the struggle shifted following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the settlement with the city of Memphis.

“He was a major force,” Memphis City Council member Joe Brown said in presenting the council’s resolution to Jones’ son, T.O. Jones Jr. “He was hated dearly by some of the city leaders.” It’s hard to overstate the symbolism of Jones being honored in the very city council chambers that was the setting for some of the most dramatic moments and encounters of the 1968 strike – a cause Jones knew intimately from leading a strike of the workers just two years earlier that was quickly crushed by City Hall.

“I thought this day would never come,” said the younger Jones, brushing back tears. He recalled the flush of the strike’s end when his father got a telegram from then-U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey that called him a hero. “I thought that was the greatest moment I would ever have,” Jones said Tuesday. “This is the greatest moment because the city of Memphis is recognizing my father.”



Through Tuesday, the 10th day of the early voting period, 46,656 citizens cast ballots at one of the 27 sites across the county. This is behind the totals in the same election cycle in 2010 and 2014 at this same point in the early voting period.

An interesting list of who the Jobs political action committee of the Greater Memphis Chamber is supporting in the August elections released Tuesday. By support we mean financial contributions by the PAC that come from donations and not Chamber membership dues. And the PAC has made no choice or two choices in the race for mayor depending on your perspective – announcing its support of both contenders: David Lenoir and Lee Harris. “Based upon the written responses to questions and oral interviews, both candidates were deemed qualified and were supported by the Jobs PAC,” reads the letter to chamber members.

The list of candidates backed in the races for Shelby County Commission is notable for the one race it makes no call in – the District 7 contest between Sam Goff and Tami Sawyer. All five commission incumbents seeking re-election get the nod from the PAC as well as contenders Racquel Collins, David Bradford, Mick Wright, Michael Whaley, Mickell Lowery, Edmund Ford Jr., and Brandon Morrison. The Jobs PAC also supports Ford Canale in the special election for Memphis City Council – making no calls in the special judicial races or Shelby County Schools board race or the countywide races on the ballot.

The latest rendering for the hotel that is part of the One Beale project with construction to begin in January.

The developers of One Beale announced Tuesday they will break ground in January on the $225 million mixed use project by the river. The Carlisle family has a Hyatt flag for the hotel it is building with Hyatt owning half of it. And Highwoods Properties is Carlisle’s partner for the office tower. Before Tuesday’s announcement, One Beale had undergone some revisions including mid-rise buildings instead of skyscrapers and had bought some property further east along Front Street including the Ellis Machine Shop. The family announced Tuesday it will keep part of the machine shop building intact for use as a hotel conference and meeting space.

The Memphis City Council responds to intense lobbying from the Save IRV (instant-runoff voting) Memphis group and former county commissioner Steve Mulroy by taking a vote Tuesday night on an ordinance that would have removed from the November ballot the proposition of doing away with IRV and the city charter’s runoff provision. The council voted down the ordinance on the first reading 0-10.

The council had an eventful day at City Hall on several fronts including some serious opposition to the two latest de-annexation proposals for Rocky Point and Southwind-Windyke.

On Park Avenue, the University of Memphis is about to start work on a $10.6 million expansion and renovation of the school’s athletic training facilty.

The football Tigers are the pre-season choice to win their division in the AAC.

The latest on SEC football includes Barry Odom’s return at Missouri.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Hillary Hill Bellan of Shea, Moskovitz and McGhee talks about her return to the Memphis law firm and her days as a clerk in Chancery Court.

PROPERTY SALES 68 162 2,781
MORTGAGES 60 97 1,880
BUILDING PERMITS 148 769 6,470
BANKRUPTCIES 61 172 1,149