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VOL. 133 | NO. 45 | Friday, March 2, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Ballot, By the River and The 'Good Ship Ineptitude'

By Bill Dries

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What blooms before spring and after the rains? It is the quest. The quest that must be declared over and over again – in the confidence of homes and the parlors of supporters – across kitchen tables and behind the soundproof doors of conference rooms -- the patios where supporters have gathered and the rented spaces where campaigns are located. Usually with food. Perhaps a corner table or possibly a catered buffet. Maybe just coffee.

And after no less than 25 of the most earnest supporters, who are voters and live in the county or in the district involved, put their support in writing the ads begin. So do the robocalls and when the spring is ready to bloom so are the yard signs. For at the end of the winter of consideration and planning and structuring, there is the campaign.

The May county primary ballot consists of 83 candidates running for 23 county offices.

Council member Philip Spinosa and commissioner Mark Billingsley confer at Thursday's Beale Street Landing meeting of the two elected bodies.

You knew I was going there at the start, right? Why else would I count names on a chart that requires the Hubble telescope to read? Our tally shows 83 candidates on the May 1 ballot certified this week by the Shelby County Election Commission. That’s up from this same county primary election cycle in 2010 and 2014. And there are more women running in the primaries for the 23 county offices.

The city council and the county commission met Thursday by the river – Beale Street Landing to be precise. They don’t do this often. The last time was probably eight or so years ago. No votes were taken, nothing proposed at this open public meeting. But the gathering was significant, I think, as much for the questioning by members of both bodies of the existing plan for workforce training and economic development priorities. The city drive to expand prekindergarten access also got a thorough discussion with some reservations about the idea of county funding for the city effort to be unveiled in April. That’s when city leaders will talk about how they plan to fund this.

At the landing, leaders of the Greater Memphis Chamber were among those watching and listening. And for context, the chamber’s relatively new chairman, Richard Smith, had plenty to say about this in December at the chamber’s annual luncheon.

Rendering of The Lake District that has signed its first tenant.

The leasing up of The Lake District project in Lakeland is underway and the first tenant is a grocery store called The Stock Market.

Coming across our desk Thursday, a $25 million permit to start construction on the Raleigh Springs Town Center.

The new Cushman & Wakefield/ Conmmercial Advisors report is a look at 2017 and construction north of the state line in what the firm is calling the first significant new construction for Memphis and Shelby County in a decade. And the trend is that the construction will create momentum for more development.

In our Friday Sports Section:

Tigers basketball coach Tubby Smith is keeping the team on an even keel even with losses like the Thursday loss to South Florida.

The South Florida Bulls over the Tigers Thursday 81-75.

Up until game time Thursday for the Tigers at FedExForum, the Grizz and the Tigers looked like the tale of two teams in the same city with the same number of wins but very different trajectories. That may still be the case but there is still some glow left in the embers of the Houston win.

The same is not said of the Grizz in Don Wade’s “Press Box” column.

Soulsville’s new board.

The Poverty Report released this week by the National Civil Rights Museum and the University of Memphis is our focus on “Behind The Headlines.” Our guests are Terri Lee Freeman of NCRM and Elena Delavega, the lead researcher from the University of Memphis to talk about the numbers and what they mean. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story by Patrick Lantrip in our weekly, The Memphis News, is about a 200-year old edict you don’t hear much about but which has had an effect on the many riverfront plans the city has had over the decades. It is the condition set by the founders of the city that makes part of the riverfront a public promenade – for public use only. The first order of business in pursuing this story was to find some kind of copy of the condition John Overton set back in 1819, which is to be enforced by his heirs and those of the other founders. The problem is no one has found such a copy. The oldest document is an 1828 letter from Overton setting the condition after visiting the city he laid out and finding a road cut into the promenade.

The PDF of the new edition is up now on this website. The hard copies go in the racks Friday morning and the online version of the story goes up here Friday afternoon.

Notes from the Dunavant Awards and this year’s recipients – General Sessions Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer and County Chief Administrative Officer Harvey Kennedy.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220