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VOL. 133 | NO. 49 | Thursday, March 8, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: On The EDGE, Tubby Smith and Timing and TVA Keeps Its Wells Off

By Bill Dries

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Remember when the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission got together a week ago at Beale Street Landing? Here’s a refresher. Among those watching the discussion was Richard Smith, the chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber, who responded to the criticism of the local approach to economic development this week with an email to members of both bodies that could prompt some changes to the approach and specifically to EDGE.

Here is the email in full.

In summary, Smith agreed with some of the criticism of EDGE expressed and added his own, saying the city-county agency that controls tax abatements for economic development needs “a dynamic salesperson” and that in its current condition EDGE is “more bureaucratic than dynamic and deal making.”

The chamber also took some criticism at the joint session last week for not doing enough and here Smith pushed back.

There is some tension between the council and commission and the chamber that goes back to the time no so long ago that city and county government funded the chamber. The annual budget season usually featured the chamber coming at its allotted time to each body and getting somewhat seared and then getting its funding or getting it reduced. That ended when Phil Trenary became chamber president and announced the chamber would be refusing city and county government funding as it formed the Chairmen’s Circle, formed a political action committee and began taking positions on issues like benefits for city employees.

Mum was the word for the most part Wednesday on the future of Tubby Smith as coach of the Tigers as the team plays Thursday in Orlando.

The University of Memphis board of trustees met Wednesday and neither U of M president David Rudd nor Tigers athletic director Tom Bowen had anything to say publicly about the well-developed rumors that Tubby Smith is on his way out as basketball coach to be replaced by former Tiger and NBA star Penny Hardaway, which we talked about here when last we met.

Smith had a little bit more to say but not much, noting that this happens in advance of Thursday’s first post-season game for the Tigers in Orlando and as he is trying to recruit. Smith, meanwhile, got a vote of confidence from American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco, according to Don Wade, who takes a look at the game to come and the backdrop for that game back here.

TVA is building two tanks to hold a total of 5 million gallons of water the federal agency is buying from MLGW for operational peaks at the new $1 billion natural gas-fired power plant in southwest Memphis.

In a few weeks, the Tennessee Valley Authority will open the $1 billion natural-gas fired power plant in southwest Memphis just across a couple of roads from the coal-fired Allen plant. And Wednesday, TVA released reports showing the arsenic and lead found in a coal ash pond at the coal-fired plant have also turned up in the water aquifer just below the surface but not in the Memphis aquifer itself that is the source of the city’s water supply. The University of Memphis and U.S. Geological Survey also report there is a hydraulic connection between the two aquifers that needs further investigation. Along the way, TVA continues using MLGW water and not water from the wells it dug earlier in the construction process before the arsenic and lead levels prompted TVA to stop using those wells. More on where this is all going when next we meet.

As promised last time, here is more on the great City Hall email chain over sewer capacity in the Fletcher Creek area that gave developers a start a week ago and more background on the overhaul of sewer capacity totaling $750 million that has been underway for several years now.

And a closer look at the set of resolutions the city council approved Tuesday on public art – specifically murals on public property and the difficulty in the city acting to cover up murals on private property. And that leads us to the story of Prince Mongo, which for our immediate purposes is in capsule form in this account.

More Allegiant flights to the west coming to MEM starting with the Memorial Day weekend.

In the Tennessee Legislature, a look at one of the bills that is a reaction to the December removal of Confederates monuments from two Memphis parks. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reports the bill would make it a felony for a local elected officials to “knowingly” cast votes in conflict with state law. A legal opinion on whether such a law is constitutional has been ordered up from the Tennessee Attorney General.

And the AG’s office has weighed in on whether whisky barrels are taxable property. Attorney General Herbert Slatery says as the law presently exists they are taxable property. This centers on the state constitution’s clause saying “No article, manufactured of the produce of this state shall be taxed.” Slatery concluded that exemption means items that are converted into different uses. There are attempts in Lynchburg in particular to pass a bill that will specifically exempt barrels.

Stockard’s “View From The Hill” column is about the ongoing effort over several legislative sessions by Memphis Republican Mark White in the House to allow in-state college tuition rates for Dreamers – those who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

The expansion of Olympus in Bartlett makes the medical device campus bigger that the corporation's presence in San Jose.

In the next month two University Clinical Health clinics in west Tennessee will get teleconferencing access to UCH specialists that will start with dermatologists and rheumatologists.

The expanded Olympus medical device campus in Bartlett has more capacity than the corporation’s San Jose plant. The expansion is a distribution center joining a research and development center and manufacturing on Appling Road.

Interest rate concerns surface in a new national survey of commercial real estate executives along with cybersecurity concerns, including at the law firm conducting the survey.

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