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VOL. 133 | NO. 98 | Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Being Fourth, Barbecue and Davos on the Delta and Steamboat Exit

By Bill Dries

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Not. Top. Three. The Grizz got the fourth pick of the NBA draft in Tuesday’s draft lottery in Chicago. Grizz president of business operations Jason Wexler had probably the best reaction on Twitter: “So for the next 5 weeks we are in a window where everyone can be wrong and everyone can be right at the same time.” The memory of Hasheem Thabeet’s arrival in Memphis looms large in this uncertainty and draft day is the only thing that can make that memory fade. At least for now, that image just got a bit sharper. And it becomes more vivid every time between now and the draft in June that you start a sentence with “The Grizz could still…”


The renovation and overhaul of the Memphis Cook Convention Center may be losing a few elements from its ambitious scope as the city rebids the project to fit the $175 million the city wants this to cost. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland confirmed Tuesday there will be a rebid after the bids on the project came in over that this past March. Strickland is also looking for someone to take on eliminating the red tape on economic development projects – a role city COO Doug McGowen has been doing in addition to his COO duties – which are basically running the operations of city government on a day-to-day basis. McGowen has been in the weeds on the details of everything from the city’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2 to the Overton Park Zoo parking plan to seemingly anything that requires a level of diplomacy approaching that of the State Department.

Speaking of economic development, more detail on a sewer incentive the EDGE board will take up at its Wednesday meeting. Back in March, city public works director Robert Knecht met with developers at Shelby Farms and told them they should be ready to consider temporary storage of wastewater from their developments during peak hours at their own cost in the Fletcher Creek basin area as the city increases capacity over several years. EDGE is considering a PILOT to help developers absorb that cost. This is a PILOT that would apply only to city property taxes, not county property taxes.

The Memphis In May International Barbecue Cooking Contest opens Wednesday in Tom Lee Park.

Behold the spectacle that is the Memphis in May barbecue contest load-in. The contest itself begins Wednesday in Tom Lee Park and one day someone is going to organize one of those tours that take in areas like Central Gardens to give first-timers a good look at the architecture and building skills involved in this very serious undertaking. Add a symposium on the culture and stereotype of barbecue at Beale Street Landing – maybe where the restaurant is if it’s not coming back – and you can do a full week.

The founder of Memphis In May, Lyman Aldrich, among those attending a new ag symposium drawing several hundred people to the city this week. It is called Davos on the Delta, which gives you an idea of the ambition involved in this. I mention Aldrich because his goal in starting Memphis in May some 40 years ago was to promote international business ties with the city.

The American Queen Steamboat Co. left down with very little notice until this week. But the company's slate of riverboat arrivals and departures remains intact.

The American Queen Steamboat Co. moved out of Memphis to Indiana a bit ago and nobody noticed. The company that is maintaining Beale Street Landing as a port with a schedule of more than 60 arrivals and departures put out a press release in response to questions Tuesday. In 2011, the Great American Steamboat Co., as it was known then, was the third attempt to resurrect an industry that had collapsed twice in 2009 as the national recession was settling in for a long stay. And it took. But the company was never a really visible presence as a corporate headquarters. Their boats have been a very visible presence. But the parent company in Indiana was really calling the shots on land and that’s why the move. Here's our 2012 cover story on how this all started

Members of the band Chicago were honored at the Orpheum Tuesday, hours before their sold out show there.

Chicago, the band, gets a star on the sidewalks outside the Orpheum Tuesday before playing a sold out show there a few hours later and three of the founders talk about the influence of Memphis on their beginnings.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville in Dayton, Ohio Wednesday where the newly restored World War II bomber Memphis Belle goes on exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force and it will mark 75 years since the Belle returned from its last mission of the war.

Tennessee one of six states who have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma for deceptive marketing designed to boost sales and use of opioids. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery in his office’s press release announcing the lawsuit:

“Our Office has conducted an extensive investigation into Purdue’s highly aggressive marketing practices and other unlawful conduct. We believe Purdue’s conduct has been unconscionable, and we intend to hold the company accountable. Three Tennesseans are dying each day from opioid-related overdoses, and we are committed to the hard work that needs to be done to address this tragedy.”

Purdue Pharma is the lead defendant in Shelby County government’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. We would link to a copy of the state’s 270-page complaint but it has been filed under seal because Purdue claims the lawsuits are based on confidential information.

The Redbirds snap a four-game losing streak and how to “mishit” a home run.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment is Jon Pegg, the bike fleet manager of Explore Bike Share who talks about what happens if you have a flat and other observations on bike culture.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028