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VOL. 133 | NO. 149 | Monday, July 30, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Early Voting's Strong Finish, School Moves and City Hall Crackdown

By Bill Dries

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Most of the major contenders for Tennessee Governor – Democratic and Republican – were in Shelby County over the weekend in which early voting ended and the campaigns now adjust their last minute efforts to the gap between early voting and election day on Thursday.

Republican contender Randy Boyd kicks off a 95-county blitz Monday morning in East Memphis at Gibson’s doughnuts as rival Republican Diane Black is at the Blue Plate on Poplar at the same time. They will be close enough to have breakfast together. Somehow I don't think that will happen. 

Early voting in Shelby County ended Saturday with a turnout of 86,002 ballots cast over the 14-day period, more than the same election cycle in 2014.


We now have the numbers in for early voter turnout that show 86,002 early voters, better than the turnout for the same election cycle four years ago. And the margin of turnout in the Democratic primaries compared to the Republican primaries increased toward the end of the period. Friday, as expected and as happened in 2010 and 2014, posted the highest daily turnout. Unlike 2010 and 2014 however there was a surge of voter turnout on Saturday that almost but not quite topped Friday’s turnout.

The outgoing Governor, Bill Haslam, talked with Chalkbeat’s Marta W. Aldrich in Nashville about education reform during his eight years in office – an effort that dovetailed with reform efforts during Phil Bredesen’s second term as Governor. In the interview, Haslam says he fears problems with TNReady testing could be used to undo the accountability measures put in place across both administrations.

In the Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District, President Donald Trump weighing in Friday afternoon with a Tweeted endorsement of incumbent Republican David Kustoff of Germantown over primary challenger George Flinn in a primary skirmish that has cratered in its early voting stage with attack ads between the two.

Crosstown High School opens Monday for its inaugural school year.

Monday is day one of Crosstown High School. The charter school in Crosstown Concourse starts its first school year with 150 9th graders. The project-based learning school will add other grades in later years. A walk-through the school last week found teachers already moved in and students have already made their presence known which will include the build-out of some of the spaces. Among the signs of life some project notes on a life on Mars project that included the question “Is there anything wrong with Earth?” An excellent observation, in my opinion.

Monday is the first day of in-service for returning Shelby County Schools teachers.

In other start-of-the-school-year news, it turns out Whitehaven High School principal Vincent Hunter remains the head of the Whitehaven Empowerment Zone – a cluster of elementary and middle schools working in alignment with the high school. Laura Faith Kebede of Chalkbeat has more on the earlier sudden announcement and the addition of schools to the zone in the coming school year that has prompted some changes – just not Hunter’s place at the top of the management chart.

Here is the rest of The Week Ahead.

As the weekend began, St. Jude pulled a $330 million building permit as a big part of its $1 billion capital expansion spend.

Christmas in July continues around town with Court Square the latest to get the faux winter treatment for shooting of the Hallmark movie “Christmas at Graceland.” Over the weekend, the square was set up as a winter wonderland and a summer crowd on hand to watch a few exterior shots of winter passers-by in front of the Christmasfied Blue Plate Café.

A couple of blocks to the west, the base of the Jefferson Davis statue was removed by private work crews Saturday. The statue itself and a bust of Confederate Captain Harvey Mathes were removed from Memphis Park last December along with the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park.

The 10 Commandments monument in Memphis Park is one of the items to be relocated out of the park after the base where the Jefferson Davis statue once stood was removed this weekend.

Memphis Greenspace, the nonprofit that bought both parks from the city including the monuments, isn’t taking any action on the base of the Forrest monument because that issue is still in court. There is a question about whether the base of the Forrest statue is legally part of the gravesite of Forrest, who, along with his wife, is buried there.

But there is no such legal hold on Memphis Park, so the base of that monument was removed by a city crew Saturday along with the fence around the base. Still to come is the removal of the four cannons, a 1909 marker by the Confederate Dames organization titled “Confederate History of Memphis” and two markers in the park about the Confederacy including one to Confederate spy Ginnie Moon. The 10 commandments marker has been moved, at least for now, to the main cannon gap in the stone wall.

Another marker on Confederate reunions in the park and an explanation of the Confederate statues and monuments in the park has been uprooted and pushed against the wrought iron fence overlooking the bluff. Another marker from 2008 on the gunboat battle of Memphis remains in place, at least for now. This was the marker that SCV leaders insisted be changed from its original wording to show that Mayor John Park did not surrender the city to Union forces after the battle on the river but “conceded he was powerless to prevent the city’s fall.”


The Memphis City Council has long had a tradition of allowing the public to speak on any topic not on its agenda at the end of its twice-a-month sessions at City Hall. And sometimes it can get rough. And sometimes the council pushes back. That has been the case in the last month or so with one regular being banned from council chambers for two meetings and another escorted out last week.

In our “Around Memphis” reading list, Jim Stewart at Stax, Delays in the OneJet service between Memphis and Pittsburgh and where Memphis figures in the top 100 college football towns in America.

Don Wade’s cover story in the new edition of our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at the dominance of Alabama in SEC football and why the effort to shake that dominance means six new coaches in the season to come.

One of the better videos on social media, at least for a baseball fan and a Cardinals fan to boot, is Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp going to the mound in Salt Lake City last week to pull pitcher Dakota Hudson from the game so Hudson could be on his way to the big show with the Cardinals. The Cardinals have lots of other decisions to make on their pitching staff, it turns out.

The Memphis News Almanac: Lorenzen Wright, Herenton Leaves City Hall, Agricenter Groundbreaking, Where The Action Is Comes to Town and Brother Dave at the Silver Slipper.

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