VOL. 133 | NO. 175 | Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Last Word: Selling Local Soccer, Football's Arrival and Luttrell's Vetoes
By Bill Dries
So the United Soccer League Memphis franchise is to be called Memphis FC 901. The branding was launched as the Labor Day weekend began with a video that is part Rogues nostalgia, soccer at school memories and a liberal dose of Grit ‘n’ Grind rhetoric from another sports franchise just down the street from AutoZone Park. The combination is another example of sports carrying the banner for the promotion of Memphis in general.
Witness 901 Day in all of its glory as the University of Memphis Tigers opened their football season at the Liberty Bowl with a resounding win over Mercer. The day before the opener, Menphis officialdom was showing off the new state of the art locker room that is behind a rolling door a few steps from the south end zone with a bumping, bottom shaking sound system. The team got the first look and the videos show Tigers players looking at their images atop each locker. No masking tape with last names written in magic marker.
Memphis City Council member Reid Hedgepeth, who led the city’s effort on all things Liberty Bowl starting with Tiger Lane and is himself a former Tigers football player, taking Mayor Jim Strickland to the smart board in the coach’s office. Hedgepeth sketching out a few mock plays on the white board that is able to send the plays to iPads of coaching assistants and players on the field and in the booth above.
Let’s see … players in various positions on a field of play trying to accomplish the same goal against another faction on the same field. Maybe it’s just me, but I could see working out a few plays for action on the city council as the mayor listens to committee sessions. Smart board for the mayor’s office and as part of the new council committee room? Fair is fair.
On his way out of office at week’s end, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell vetoed two actions taken by the county commission that also left office as of Sept. 1. Luttrell vetoed the commission’s approval of the Quinn Road residential development in the Collierville annexation reserve area – a development Collierville’s town leadership opposed – and he vetoed the extension of county benefits that made it possible for commissioners to receive those benefits.
It will be interesting to see if the new commission, which has eight new members, will try to act again on these two fronts. The action on the benefits was another example of something added onto the commission’s agenda for a vote while the meeting was underway. Any time you see papers being handed out at a commission meeting, you know something is about to be up and it’s time to start looking at the fine print.
The new commission has its first committee meetings coming up Wednesday. Here is the rest of The Week Ahead on what is a short work week for many in the 901.
Also … exiting county government as August became September, Allen Medlock, the leader of construction code enforcement for the county, who is retiring after half a century of experience that began as an unexpected turn from the Whitehaven Fire Department before Whitehaven was annexed by the city of Memphis.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson on “Behind The Headlines” makes the case for some kind of oversight of where schools of all kinds locate. Hopson tells us he thinks the historic changes in public education locally and from the state have reached a point where it’s time to have some kind of authority that says where schools are needed and where they are not – at least in the school district that has more charters than any other public school system in the state and has more ASD schools than another public school system in the state.
Meanwhile, here is a review of what Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam had to say and what was said to him about TNReady testing last week in Collierville.
A busy week on the campaign trail with Democratic nominee for Gov. Karl Dean in the city Tuesday, Republican nominee for Gov. Bill Lee in the city Wednesday and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Phil Bredesen in Germantown Saturday.
Meanwhile, the set of five suburban municipal elections on the Nov. 6 ballot was set just as the long holiday weekend began. Meeting in special session, the Shelby County Election Commission set the ballot for the races in Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett, Millington and Lakeland. The only change from the Aug. 16 deadline for candidates to file their qualifying petitions is that Phillip Childs withdrew from the Lakeland school board races.
So it would appear the ballot is set and we emphasize the tentative nature of that. The election commission said last month that Aug. 22 would be the last possible date to get three city council seats on the November ballot. Those are the seats council members Janis Fullilove, Bill Morrison and Edmund Ford Jr. will be leaving at some point since they are now the Juvenile Court Clerk, Probate Court Clerk and County Commissioner respectively.
Ford clearly has some plans to stay on the city council for at least some of the 90 days he has to hold both a council seat and a commission seat. Ford is pursuing a transportation utility fee on the city council – an ordinance that would put a fee on utility bills to go toward a revenue stream for city road projects and the Memphis Area Transit Authority. No word from Morrison and Fullilove on when they will leave their council seats as of Monday.
As we have pointed out before, there is a general precedent for this. Three Memphis City Council members were elected to the county commission in 1994, taking office Sept. 1. All three seats were on the November election ballot 24 years ago. The reason this remains tentative is that there are dates the election commission sets as deadlines and then there are the rulings of courts that can make exceptions for those deadlines. We’ve already seen that this year with early voting locations and hours. To date, no one has taken the issue of the three council seats to court. Absent such an action and ruling, the Memphis City Council’s remaining members make appointments to fill the vacancies with the citizens appointed to serve to the end of 2019.
National representatives of Kroger were in town Friday to talk with city officials about a possible comeback of some sort for the Orange Mound store on Lamar near Airways that closed this past February. This follows the recent reopening of another former Kroger location – in the Southgate shopping center – as a Cash Saver store with a pharmacy.
As that was happening, Trader Joe’s executives announced a Sept. 14 opening date for their long awaited and somewhat enigmatic Germantown store.
Four years after state authorities stepped in and shut down the Galilee Memorial Gardens cemetery, a civil lawsuit by the families of those buried there against licensed funeral homes is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Associated Press reviews the allegations and the arc of the dispute that is about more than those who ran the cemetery.