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VOL. 133 | NO. 94 | Thursday, May 10, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: New Football League, Drone Testing and New Chandler Numbers

By Bill Dries

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The Alliance of American Football announces its presence in Memphis Thursday afternoon at the Liberty Bowl. And so begins another chapter in the city’s colorful history of start-up leagues. It is a long history dominated by football with a good stretch of the timeline taking in the city’s pursuit of an NFL franchise. Sometimes the rules are a bit different and the leagues have a history of not lasting very long. But they are fondly remembered.

The original Grizzlies of the World Football League.

Almost forgotten is the 1920s history when the NFL wanted a Memphis team but Clarence Saunders, the owner of the Memphis team, wasn’t interested. There are enough Memphis efforts in baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey to stock a store with throwback jerseys and hats and anything else that can bear a Riverkings logo. Or how about the original Grizzlies nee Southmen of the World Football League with Csonka, Kiick and Warfield. Or perhaps a small inventory of green and gold tams from the Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association. Actually, by my own informal and unintentional survey, 1980s to 1990s Memphis Chicks merchandise gets a pretty strong reaction.

One Commerce Square, part of the city's skyline, is for sale.

Part of the city skyline is up for sale – One Commerce Square – which got local ownership and an upgrade in 2010 that has made quite a difference in the skyscaper’s trajectory.

Memphis is one of 10 cities where the Feds will be looking at experiments in the use of drones across commerce, security and other pursuits to inform how federal rules should change or not change. The city’s effort is headed by the airport authority and includes a dozen government and business partners including FedEx – which will use drones at its Memphis facility to move jet parts around among other things. The airport itself will be keeping an eye on runways and taxiways – specifically for debris and other things that don’t belong. You might see more drones over the Liberty Bowl. The city will be using them for security and to keep an eye on the infrastructure of the 50 plus year old stadium.

AOL founder Steve Case, left, doing the honors Tuesday as his Rise of the Rest seed fund invested $100k in a local start up.

As promised when last we met, more on Steve Case and J.D. Vance in town Tuesday to hear pitches from start-ups and invest $100,000 in one of them. The winning start up is Soundways, an audio company.

Local Republicans and Democrats are consoling the losers and cultivating the winners of the May county primaries for the move to the August county general elections.

A week and counting after the first of the three elections in Shelby County this year and party unity is still a work in progress for Democrats and Republicans. And the leaders of each effort are looking across the aisle and picking up some tactics from the other side. Here’s a look at the immediate election aftermath as both groups get pointed toward the August general election.

New numbers from Chandler Reports show home sales in April up 13 percent from a year ago in Shelby County. Chandler Reports is the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Co. Inc. and is marking its 50th year this year. The numbers show $280 million in home sales in April. The average home sale price in the county was $168,835. The highest average price was in the Eads 38028 ZIP -- $860,750. The Arlington and Collierville ZIPs had the most new home sales in April.

There was a lot going on in Memphis at about this time 50 years ago including the founding of the Metropolitan Inter-faith Association. MIFA, as it is known, is preparing to mark its founding in times that today seem as similar at times as they do foreign.


No veto override at the Shelby County commission Wednesday for a very unusual reason. It turns out Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell vetoed the wrong version of the resolution that renewed the appointment of Julian Bolton as a legislative advisor to the commission. He signed the un-amended one which means he vetoed something the commission did not approve. So the commission will vote on sending him the same final version of the resolution at its regular Monday meeting and see what happens. This mistake – called a “scrivener’s error” is exceedingly rare.

A follow up to our story about the billing records of Bolton, who is an attorney. Commission chair Heidi Shafer had several inquiries from commissioners wanting to know how much Bolton’s legal advice has cost the commission. Shafer took the position that the billing records fall under attorney-client privilege and made the billing records available for commissioners to see on a spread sheet in her office Wednesday for several hours.

At the end of the business day Thursday, she said no commissioners had taken a look at them. She also stood by her position that the records are not public records.

“While not all communications between the Commission and Mr. Bolton may be privileged, especially those provided publicly in a public meeting, but under the circumstances with litigation pending between the Mayor and the Commission the detail of Mr. Bolton's bills are protected. Some of the bills may be subject to possible redaction, but the full bills were made available to review by Commissioners only so as not to delay their review of the detail. Since the Commissioners have been allowed full access to the billing detail, their right to know the full content of the bills has been satisfied. Moreover, publication of attorney billing summaries and protection of detail that might reveal attorney client communications/ mental impressions has been sanctioned by the Tennessee Supreme Court and by Tennessee’s Open Records Counsel.”

A few more budget details on the county side to report. It looks like the county’s surplus at the June 30 end of the current fiscal year with be $20 million. The county will put some of its reserve fund -- $1.5 million – in the new fiscal year to seed the city-county-private and philanthropic universal pre-k effort in Shelby County. Further funding, likely to the tune of $5 million in new funding, will be in the court of the new mayor and commission elected in August that takes office Sept. 1. Also Luttrell says no major capital ask from Regional One Health at the end of his administration but one is coming and he says the scope is probably a bigger undertaking that the $250 million FedExForum.

The legacy of the state’s bid to privatize Fall Creek Falls State Park includes the demolition of the park’s state-owned inn and conference center. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard, in his “View From The Hill” column, says the impact hits close to home for one state legislator.

David Wingett is the latest Tigers basketball signee.

PROPERTY SALES 64 151 1,493
MORTGAGES 45 105 1,152
BUILDING PERMITS 201 410 3,466