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VOL. 133 | NO. 109 | Thursday, May 31, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Kim Kardashian's Plea, The Duran Stay and Mid-Term Moves

By Bill Dries

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A drug case from Memphis federal court in the early 1990s was the reason Kim Kardashian West was at the White House Wednesday. Kardashian West is among those pushing for a presidential pardon for Alice Marie Johnson – serving a life sentence on a federal drug and money laundering conviction. Here is the Associated Press story.

Late last year, retired Deputy Sheriff Randy Wade was among those who wrote Federal Judge Hardy Mays backing Johnson’s motion for a reduced sentence based on federal legislation allowing courts to act to reduce sentences involving crack cocaine retroactively. Wade writes that Johnson “has an outstanding record and serves other inmates as a mentor.”

“She would be a great asset to this community as well as her family,” he concludes. Wade also mentions that he has worked with her sister who was a Memphis Police Department Major. Wade doesn’t name Johnson’s sister.

At about the same time last year, federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Memphis office said they and the federal probation office oppose any reduction in sentence for Johnson because of the quantity of drugs involved. They also point out in the court filing that Johnson’s conviction wasn’t just for drugs. It includes one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and structuring monetary transactions. Structuring is making bank deposits under $10,000 deliberately to avoid the notices banks send to federal agencies for deposits of $10,000 or more.

The filing from prosecutors says the sentencing guidelines on those three counts show a “specific offense characteristic of the defendant knowing or believing that the funds were the proceeds of an unlawful activity involving the importation or distribution of narcotics or controlled substances.”

Joseph Ford Canale is the second contender with a petition out for the special city council race on the Aug. 2 ballot to file for the ballot. Canale, who was appointed to the Super District 9 seat by the council earlier this month, joins Shelby County Schools teacher Erika Sugarmon on the ballot. Six other contenders still have petitions out. The filing deadline for the race is June 21.

New seasonal air service from Memphis to Oakland by Allegiant at MEM.

Bond set at $20 million for Sherra Wright who remains in custody while charged with the 2010 murder of her ex-husband Lorenzen Wright. And the judge says there have been problems with her at the jail.

Manuel Duran, the reporter in custody on immigration charges in Louisiana, has had his deportation stayed by the board of immigration appeals. Duran was arrested outside the Criminal Justice Center in April as he covered an MLK50 protest outside the jail. The misdemeanor charges that had nothing to do with immigration were dropped when Duran got to court but ICE agents arrested him outside the courtroom for being undocumented. The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed suit over the immigration charges claiming Duran was targeted for his reporting on immigration issues. The stay issued Wednesday is not a decision on the immigration issues the board still has not ruled on.


Some indication that at the halfway point of his four-year term Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is making some adjustments at City Hall. This week it was a new minority business effort that gets into the business-to-business disparity for black-owned businesses in a city that is majority African-American. The “800 Initiative” also points to a fact we’ve seen before in this long running discussion – the vast majority of minority-owned businesses in Memphis don’t have paid employees. As in only 800 of the 39,800 minority firms in a city of 70,000 businesses.

The Shelby County Schools brass got through a presentation of their operating budget proposal Wednesday during committee sessions of the Shelby County Commission. But they will be back to present the capital ask at another time. Here are the numbers involved in what is the largest single dollar figure in the county’s consolidated budget.

Shelby County commissioners took in the Shelby County Schools budget proposal Wednesday but still await a briefing on the school system's capital ask.

The commission’s schedule works this way: meetings of the full commission two Mondays each month. On the Wednesday of the off weeks they have committee sessions. The committee sessions are supposed to be half a day – 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The commission usually goes over that and into the afternoon. It’s difficult to pull off on a body of 13 elected officials. The Memphis City Council used to have the same problem until several chairmen began watching the clock and walking into the committee room and telling a committee chairman his time was up whether the committee was finished or not. Both bodies now use and enforce time limits on first and second rounds of comments by commissioners and council members. Like I said, it is harder than it looks especially when the discussion is about $1 billion dollars.

Also at Wednesday committee sessions, actors Keenan Ivory Wayans and Robert Townsend who visited later with commissioners Van Turner and Reginald Milton.

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite got together five years ago for an unforgettable album. They are back and booked for the Orpheum Sept. 11 as one of 10 new stops added supporting their new collaboration “No Mercy In This Land”

There is talk of an effort to save the Mississippi RiverKings who otherwise have suspended operations in Southaven.

There may be a plan to save the Mississippi RiverKings of Southaven with a new ownership group. The story also includes some very interesting time lines on the life span of our city's ongoing sports franchises and those that are no longer with us -- including the original Memphis RiverKings.

It’s been a few years since local leaders began calling attention to the concept of adverse childhood experiences having an impact on the path children can take. That’s included the formation of an ACE Awareness Foundation and the foundation has a new executive director.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard on Metro government’s financial problems there including not adjusting the property tax rate there after a 2017 reappraisal.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047