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VOL. 133 | NO. 180 | Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Gun Group Endorsements, Kirby Complexities and Purple Haze Closes

By Bill Dries

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Two races on the Nov. 6 ballot within the Shelby County legislative delegation to Nashville getting some attention as our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard takes a look at “gun sense” ratings from the group Moms Demand Action, which has called for stricter gun laws.

The ratings went to two Republican incumbents – state Rep. Mark White and state Sen. Brian Kelsey -- who also got high ratings from the National Rifle Association. Their Democratic challengers, who also got “gun sense” ratings from MDA are doing a lot more than wondering how that happened.

Democratic county commissioner Van Turner is the new chairman of the body as of its first meeting Monday of the four-year term of office. Turner is chairman for the next year with Republican Mark Billingsley as chairman pro tempore. The commission approved the nomination of Patrice Thomas as mayor Lee Harris’s chief administrative officer. Earlier in the day Monday, Harris nominated Dr. Alisa Haushalter to return as county health department director. And the Criminal Justice Center is now the Walter L. Bailey Jr. Justice Center by commission proclamation -- named for the longest serving county commissioner who just went off the body.

Chalkbeat on the plan for Kirby High School students being relocated for at least six to eight weeks while SCS deals with a rat infestation at the Hickory Hill school. SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson told parents Monday evening that despite wanting to keep students all together, the best option is to send the 9th and 10th graders to WEB DuBois Middle School at 8146 East Shelby Drive, juniors and seniors to Kirby Middle School which is a charter operation that is part of the state-run Achievement School District and special education and needs students will attend Southwind High School. That is effective Monday Sept. 17.

Between now and then things get more complex. No school Tuesday for Kirby High students. But their teachers have an in-service day to get the game plan on how to make this work including what the school day will look like. Wednesday is a half day of school at Hickory Ridge Middle School with laptops handed out for students to do online coursework at home Thursday and Friday. Saturday is open house for parents at Dubois and Kirby Middle where there will be specifics of how the school day at each location will work.

The superintendents of the Bartlett, Collierville and Germantown school districts on “Behind The Headlines” talk about what they’ve learned going into the fifth school year of the demerger of public education in Shelby County. And each has had to make some space moves of the permanent kind with the end of a school system that was all of Shelby County outside Memphis and the beginning of school systems that are the borders of the towns and cities themselves.

The Memphis City Council to continue its discussions Tuesday at council day on safety and crowd control measures for Beale Street. And the latest discussion comes days after four people including a security guard were shot and wounded inside Purple Haze, the nightspot at Second and Lt. Lee.

In the council discussion two weeks ago, council chairman Berlin Boyd said the district was being hurt by violence near but not on Beale Street itself linked to Beale by media reports. In this particular case, Purple Haze was taken to court by Club 152 on Beale over whether Purple Haze is part of the district and thus allowed to stay open until 5 a.m. Purple Haze prevailed last month when the lawsuit was dismissed in Chancery Court and the extended hours began Aug 25. The shooting Monday morning before dawn was during those extended hours.

On the shooting itself, the owners of Purple Haze announced Monday they will close the club for two weeks to “review operations.” That review will center on how someone got a gun past the club’s security perimeters.

A busy council day at City Hall Tuesday with one late note. The final vote on the two de-annexation ordinances is delayed to the Sept. 25 council meeting. All of the action is @tdnpols.

Meanwhile, the council’s task force on a new economic development strategy including the possibility of the city withdrawing from EDGE and forming its own Industrial Development Board got to work Monday in the council committee room. And the discussion was substantive from the start with a mix of frustration about how EDGE turned out, pushing the idea of keeping the names of those seeking tax breaks under wraps and some doubts about whether a new entity could take on any more in the way of streamlining this than EDGE did.

Speaking of economic development, Smucker’s spreading it around at its Memphis operations.

A follow up on the Southern Heritage Classic’s cancellation by the weather with some really great photos by Jim Weber from the Orange Mound Parade. And the recap of the Redbirds claiming their division in the PCL with a game rain delayed to Sunday. The championship series with Fresno begins Tuesday in Fresno with the Redbirds coming home Friday for game 3 of the best of five.

President Donald Trump cancelling his plans to campaign in Jackson, Mississippi later this week for U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith because of the weather.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence on the campaign trail next week with a fundraiser in Knoxville for Republican Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn in the tight race with Democratic nominee Phil Bredesen.

A bit behind on this, but Graceland has more to say about the exhibition space it is opening in May at the Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex across the boulevard from the mansion. The 80,000 square foot space has four separate spaces that will be home to non-Elvis exhibits as well as food and beverage. During Elvis Week only, Graceland will use 10,000 square feet of that space for a music pavilion that for decades during Elvis Week has been outside. More details promised soon on the exhibition space.

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