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VOL. 133 | NO. 58 | Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: SCS Plans For $15, IRIS Matinees and The Hard Hit Fund

By Bill Dries

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“From a financial standpoint, we need our fans back and we need them back now.” University of Memphis president David Rudd breaking the university’s silence on the basketball coaching change that was made formal Tuesday with the announcement that Penny Hardaway is indeed the new coach. And Hardaway had a lot to say that Tigers fans and Memphians wanted to hear.

New Tigers basketball coach Penny Hardaway makes his debut Tuesday on campus.

Another former Tiger player, Tony Madlock, is returning as part of Hardaway’s staff – the only staffing decision Hardaway confirmed Tuesday. And hours after the announcement at the U of M, word that East High’s Alex Lomax who had committed to play for Wichita State has been released from that commitment. Still waiting as this goes up on dollar figures from Hardaway’s contract, which is a public record.

Of course this means the East High School team that just won a state championship is now looking for a new coach. Shelby County Schools board member Kevin Woods at Tuesday evening’s board work session playfully asking: “Do we want to consider counter offers and whether we can keep him at East?”

Hardaway is the third Tigers basketball coach in the history of the program to have played for the Tigers. In the last week or so there have been a lot of references to the most recent – Larry Finch. The first Tigers player to become coach was Wayne Yates, who transferred to Memphis as a player following his sophomore year at New Mexico State University in 1957. And after sitting out a season, he led the Tigers to a berth in the 1961 NIT. Yates returned to Memphis at the end of the 1960s as an assistant to first Moe Iba and then Gene Bartow. He was coach between Bartow and Dana Kirk.

FedEx has turned over evidence from its security systems to authorities investigating the latest bomb blast in Texas that injured a worker Tuesday at its facility near San Antonio. The FBI thinks the explosion is related to a series of bomb blasts in Austin. FedEx founder Fred Smith talked about the incident on the company’s earnings call Tuesday as well as commenting on the impact of federal tax reform – which he views as favorable – and the White House tariff plan – which he does not view favorably.


Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson cites the National Civil Rights Museum –University of Memphis report on poverty in Memphis since 1968 in his plan to raise the minimum pay for SCS employees to $15 an hour. This gets voted on by the SCS board in about a month although every school board member expressing an opinion at the Tuesday night work session favored the plan. Some want to make a $15 an hour minimum a requirement for vendors to do business with SCS. Hopson quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in explaining his decision which includes putting pencil to paper on the cost of this. It will mean boosting the pay of about 9 percent of the school system’s 12,000 employees.

At the City Council Tuesday, the city’s move to put up $6 million of a $16 million plan to expand prekindergarten locally passes the first of three readings and so do the two de-annexation ordinances for Eads and the river bottoms in southwest Memphis. And the council clarifies its earlier moratorium on any new public art to make exceptions for some notable public art projects already underway.

IRIS Orchestra artistic director Michael Stern talks about upcoming Sunday afternoon matinees at The Brooks.

The IRIS Orchestra’s new season will include moving its Sunday matinee performance at GPAC to The Brooks instead for a concert series paired with art exhibits at the Overton Park institution. Fear not fans of the season at the Germantown Performing Arts Center, the Saturday evening shows there will continue.

It’s called the Hard Hit Fund – federal money administered by the Treasury Department intended to go toward down payment assistance in areas hit hard by the Great Recession. Tennessee got $60 million in HHF funding a year ago and it was supposed to last through 2020. But it’s proven to be such a popular program, especially in Memphis, that Tennessee Housing Development Agency director Ralph Perrey says it will probably run out by Labor Day at the current pace.

In Nashville, a bill imposing work requirements on some TennCare recipients clears the House after Gov. Bill Haslam says he will sign the bill if it makes it through the Senate.

Haslam plans to spend $30.2 million on a still developing plan to beef up school security – most of the funding being one-time spending.

On its way to the House after Senate passage this week is a bill that requires better disclosure of sponsored political content on social media.

The remains on President James K. Polk will remain where they are on the capitol grounds in Nashville.

Since we last looked in on Mississippi’s two races for the U.S. Senate much has happened including Chris McDaniel dropping his challenge of incumbent Senator Roger Wicker in the statewide Republican primary and deciding to run in the special election for the seat Senator Thad Cochran is leaving next month. Associated Press reports Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who is no fan of McDaniel by the way, will likely appoint the state’s first female SenatorCindy Hyde-Smith – the state’s agriculture commission since 2011. And the idea is that Hyde-Smith will be running in the special election as well.

A day after Bryant signed into law the state’s abortion bill banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a judge blocked the ban from taking effect.

Hopdoddy opening in Overton Square slated for April 2.

Memphis attorney John Ryder on Capitol Hill in D.C. Tuesday for his confirmation hearing to be the newest member of the Tennessee Valley Authority board.

The city’s newest creative firm is Baby Grand.

MERI – the Medical Education and Research Institute – is rebranding as Genesis Legacy of Life. And a new mobile lab that converts into a 600-square-foot surgical lab will be among the first hardware to bear the new brand.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Jim Walker, president of Black Swan Digital Forensics, talks about the digital truth, digital DNA and cyber bullying.

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