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VOL. 133 | NO. 50 | Friday, March 9, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Moot Points in Orlando, EDGE Responds and A Mayoral Forum

By Bill Dries

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The Tigers basketball post season continues to a Friday game with Tulsa the day after the Tigers beat South Florida 79-77 in the AAC tournament in Orlando. But all of this seems to have been rendered a moot point by the all-but-official exit of coach Tubby Smith with Penny Hardaway, and probably much if not all of his staff, waiting in the wings.

After years of stop and start discussions about economic development in Memphis and the incentives used to create it, it looks like a real discussion that could have some larger consequences has emerged. If you’ve been keeping up with this for about the last week, the latest item is that Al Bright, chairman of the EDGE board, has responded to calls by Greater Memphis Chamber chairman Richard Smith for a more dynamic and aggressive EDGE presence on economic development – earlier this week.

Here is Bright’s email in full. And the latest story on this by Patrick Lantrip has numerous links to our coverage on this throughout as well as a link to Smith’s email that really got this rolling.

Bright: “To the extent that the Memphis Chamber does not want to lead our community efforts in business attraction, we can certainly work to resolve this issue.” That might sound back handed if that’s all you read. But it’s part of a passage where Bright says EDGE’s founding in 2011 came with lots of definitions of what EDGE would do and what the Chamber would do – and most importantly what each organization would not do. So the quote isn’t as “back of the hand” so to speak as it might appear. And Bright also says the discussion is “needed and welcomed” adding “It is critically important that we work together to ‘get economic development right.’”

For those who haven’t been following this closely, this began a week ago with a joint meeting of the county commission and city council to talk over but take no action on four issues including economic development in general and EDGE in particular. And the comments that prompted Smith, who was there, to respond were completely consistent with the constant undercurrent about the use of incentives in economic development and the jobs we pursue in those efforts that has been a part of our local political dialogue for at least the last decade. And after all, politics has much to do with timing and who is in the room who wasn’t before.

A busy day at City Hall with the Land Use Control Board in session and approving plans for an apartment building on Madison across from Minglewood just to the east of the P&H Café. And the city promoted 27 police lieutenants and 46 police sergeants.

As promised, more on the new TVA plant that will be opening formally in just a few weeks in southwest Memphis – a $1 billion project whose mammoth scope was overshadowed by questions about five wells TVA drilled into the Memphis Aquifer. That decision, instead of buying millions of gallons of water from the same aquifer from Memphis Light Gas and Water Division, became even more controversial about a year ago when high levels of arsenic and lead were found in the same area beneath an ash pond at the Allen coal-fired power plant that the new plant will replace.

As we reported Wednesday, those same substances have been found in an upper aquifer but not in the Memphis aquifer below that. But the finding seems to cement TVA’s decision since not to use its wells after all as it also undertakes a clean-up with the state that should be a very complex undertaking.

Republican primary mayoral contenders David Lenoir, Terry Roland and Joy Touliatos met this week at Sothwind and each set about making some distinctions from the other two.

This also puts new focus on the long-standing call for a better mapping of the below ground holes, breaches or gaps where there is no clay barrier protecting the Memphis Aquifer.

The three candidates in the May 1 Republican primary for Shelby County Mayor at Southwind this week for their first campaign forum together of the season. Not a lot of sparks among David Lenoir, Joy Touliatos and Terry Roland. But the three are still finding ways to differentiate themselves from each other.

In the two statewide races that start with the August primaries – the races for U.S. Senate and Tennessee Governor, we will be part of a statewide perspective on the issues in both of those races that involves our coverage and the coverage of newspapers in other parts of the state under the banner of the Tennessee Press Association. Here is the scene-setter for what you can expect.

New numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Co. Inc., showing the volume of local home sales in February was up 9 percent from a year ago, with an average home sale price in the county of $149,432 – 3 percent higher than a year ago. The Eads ZIP has the highest average price at $535,900. While sales of new homes fell, existing home sales for the month were up.

The new mortgage numbers from Chandler, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, show the market locally is up 9 percent from February of 2017 with steady increases in refinances and purchase mortgage volume. Low inventory especially for less expensive homes may cause buyers to give greater consideration to adjustable rate mortgages to get lower interest rates.

The steel and aluminum tariffs from the White House take effect in 15 days with exemptions for Mexico and Canada and Tennessee’s two Republican U.S. Senators disagree with President Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said again Thursday he was “disappointed” and repeated his earlier point made from the Senate floor that this didn’t go well when President George W. Bush did the same thing.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:

“A better way to level the playing field for American companies would be to rally our friends and allies to advance a robust, targeted effort to ensure that only those responsible for excess global capacity pay a price. Unfortunately, I fear this announcement could have far-reaching unintended consequences that will put at risk the hard fought economic gains U.S. businesses have seen over the past year.”

This week was to be the week that DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – was to run out or be replaced by Congressional action. Neither happened with court rulings in the interim putting the issue of those who came to this country illegally while they were children in a kind of limbo. We discuss the local version of this limbo on “Behind The Headlines” with Mauricio Calvo of Latino Memphis, Dr. Jennifer Sciubba of Rhodes College and John Smarrelli of Christian Brothers University.

The show airs at 7 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday on WKNO TV.

Hollywood Feed has more expansion plans on its way to a goal of being "the Whole Foods of the pet food business."

Hollywood Feed’s new store at Collins and Sam Cooper is the prototype for what the Memphis business with a goal of being the “Whole Foods of the pet food business” wants all of its stores to be and Hollywood Feed is about to expand to 25 more stores in the south.

The remaking of the city’s public library system is the cover story in the new edition of our weekly, The Memphis News. What is an ongoing shift in the purpose and mission of Memphis Public Libraries is about to get even more attention as there are some important bricks and mortar projects coming up. The renovation of the front part of the Cossitt is already underway to be followed by construction of a new Raleigh branch and the search for a site for a new Frayser Branch, which is currently the smallest library in the system by square footage and among the most used. What’s happening here particularly with the Cloud 901 program at the Central Library is what is happening nationally with libraries.

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

The Tennessee Legislature’s leading defender of Confederate monuments prepares to leave Nashville and a 30-year career as a Tennesssee legislator representing the district that includes the Parker’s Crossroads Civil War battlefield. Steve McDaniel is also a Civil War re-enactor and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as well as the sponsor of the legislation that made it more difficult for local governments to remove Confederate monuments from public property. Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, says the Republican lawmaker also voted for Gov. Bill Haslam’s version of a Medicaid expansion and against the bill that allows legislators to carry guns in the Cordell Hull Building in the capitol.

The bill in Nashville that would outlaw child marriage is dead for the session.

East High basketball stand out Nick King is now playing for his third college team.

And a delay in committee for the bill that would ban bump stocks, the device that allows guns to fire like automatic weapons, in Tennessee.

In Mississippi, on its way to Gov. Phil Bryant is the nation’s most restrictive abortion law – making abortions there illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In our Friday Sports Section:

East High basketball stand-out Nick King after the University of Memphis and Alabama.

The Grizzlies have a 15-game losing streak. They haven’t won a game since Jan. 29 and the team has the worst record in all of the NBA. The Grizz play the Utah Jazz Friday at FedExForum.

An interesting project by The New York Times for International Women’s Day. The Times decided that since 1851, its obituaries – the news stories written when a notable person dies summarizing their lives – have been dominated by white men. And so the NY Times added the stories of 15 remarkable women to make amends and Ida B. Wells is one of them.

“Motel Mirrors” – the 2013 local musical project by John Paul Keith and Amy LaVere that yielded a treasured EP that left listeners wanting more and garnered lots of critical accolades – is coming back as a band that now includes LaVere’s husband, guitarist Will Sexton and Shawn Zorn of Memphis on drums. Look for a full length album starting March 30. Keith will release a solo album along with that. All of that will be at SXSW in Austin next week before coming back here March 30 to officially “drop” the album – as the kids say – at Railgarten. After Railgarten, Keith will be doing a lot of shows all over town through about the end of April with a stop at the Juke Joint Festival April 14 in Clarksdale. He did an early show this past Monday at Lafayette’s with Motel Mirrors doing three gigs in New Mexico Friday, Saturday and Sunday before going to Austin.

Chalkbeat on Chris Barbic back in Memphis for an education conference and what the first superintendent of the Achievement School District thinks about the experience six school years in.

The Atlantic on “The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination.”

PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783