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VOL. 133 | NO. 93 | Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Veto Override Drama, Iran Reaction & Rise of the Rest Meets Soundways

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners have a busy committee day Wednesday with a budget presentation – county mayor Mark Luttrell’s final one as the county’s chief executive, more discussions about the Graceland plan and a veto override.

You could add a public records flap to the list as some commissioners want a look at the legal billing of their legislative policy advisor Julian Bolton before they vote on the veto override which is about Bolton’s reappointment to that position. Commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer says it is privileged information.

Across the Main Street Mall as the trolley rolls, the city council had a pretty ordinary Tuesday session relatively speaking. There was historic district status for Speedway Terrace, north of Crosstown Concourse, as the centerpiece of an agenda heavy on planning and development items – most approved, one delayed, one withdrawn and still another rejected.


Here’s a deeper dive into the other part of this issue that council member Kemp Conrad is working on which we allude to in the council roundup.

The City Council's Tuesday agenda was heavy on development and zoning items with the council down a member with the resignation last week of Philip Spinosa.

Back to the council for a second, which is down to 12 members with last week’s resignation of Philip Spinosa to go to work for the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle. Spinosa’s picture already taken down from the west wall of the council chambers but it has not yet made the journey to the east wall of the chambers where a much larger group of portraits are amassed – those of former council members from the last 50 years.

Other changes around City Hall. The Hall of Mayors – where the portraits of some but not all of our mayors are – got a bit smaller recently. The portion on the northern end of the ground floor facing the federal building is now a conference room with glass walls. So I’m guessing nothing really high level or secretive although there are a couple of secret passage ways not too far away from the times when the mayor’s office was on the second floor.


Reaction from our D.C. delegation to President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran, which was followed hours later by an Israeli air strike on an Iranian military base in Damascus.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen:

“Trump’s reckless approach to an agreement that is working and has prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons makes us less safe. Currently, observers on the ground are making sure that Iran is complying with the agreement; leaving the agreement closes that door. Beyond that, breaking the deal is an insult to some of our oldest and closest allies and doing it on the 73rd anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, which ended the Second World War in Europe, is especially ironic.

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff:

“I am proud to hear that the Trump Administration will be taking on a new strategy in our dealings with Iran. The previous administration failed in their intent to prevent the Iranian regime from ballistic missile testing. Iran has demonstrated aggressive behavior and remains to be one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism. I support President Trump’s continued work to keep our allies in the Middle East and all Americans safe from Iran’s dangerous activities.”


U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:

“It is disappointing that the administration was unable to reach an agreement with our allies, specifically remedy the ‘sunset’ provisions that allow Tehran to significantly ramp up its nuclear enrichment activity less than a decade from now. However, based on conversations I have had in recent days, it is my sense that the administration will move quickly to work toward a better deal.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“The president said he will now work with our allies to get a better agreement with Iran. I hope that happens—an agreement that makes our country and the world safer from the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Meanwhile, AOL founder Steve Case and J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” were in the city Tuesday along with Kimbal Musk of The Kitchen Group, Greg Becker of Silicon Valley Bank, FedEx founder Fred Smith and Santosh Sankar of Dynamo. Memphis is the second of several cities on the “Rise of the Rest” bus tour by Case and Vance, meant to bring more attention to start ups away from the coasts – in what some call fly-over country. The day’s events came to a high point Tuesday evening at Clayborn Temple where eight start-ups pitched for a $100k investment from Case’s “Rise of the Rest” seed fund. The pick of the eight was Soundways, a music and audio startup that works in streaming, video gaming, automotives and consumer electronics. And there were other investors at Clayborn for the pitch. The local venture capital firm Innova decided to invest another $100k in Soundways. More on the Memphis stop when next we meet.

Checkers is expanding its Memphis presence with owners who have a lot of experience with fast food and fast food in Memphis.

Tricks of the trade in fast food as Checkers shows signs of expanding in the area and modeling a new look in its modular design.

Tigers tennis on the road later this week to Starkville for an NCAA tournament. Where is your bracket?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on immigration at a law enforcement conference Tuesday in Gatlinburg. Here’s the basic version. And here is the Sessions text from the DOJ website including kudos to Larry Laurenzi of the Memphis U.S. Attorney’s office who is retiring as first assistant after serving as interim U.S. Attorney across several changes in administration at the White House and, more importantly, after 36 years as a federal prosecutor.

Jason Shelton, the mayor of Tupelo, pulls out of the special U.S. Senate race in Mississippi.

Italian dining at MEM.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Evans Petree shareholder Elizabeth Stengel on construction law and Herbie Hancock.

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