Main Street Journal - Weekly Update for Monday, July 15, 2013

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What Happens Now?

The Shelby County Commission held the third and final vote on raising the County property tax rate last Monday. To a packed room, the vote failed 5-7. More from WATN and again, Fox13, the Flyer. Now what happens as the commission awaits the next budget step? The County is now running on a “temporary budget” necessitating a $60 million cut. County mayor Mark Luttrell responds that he was surprised by the failure. Commissioner Heidi Shafer was interviewed by WREG.

Some commissioners point out the proposed, higher, tax rate still won’t sufficiently fund County schools which is in “dire straits” under the temporary budget.

Some Shelby County property taxes have risen 800 percent in 20 years. The City is checking if motels are paying their taxes. The commission also elected James Harvey next year’s as chairman.

Smart Meters: City Councilman Joe Brown proclaimed, in an open public meeting that grew heated, that the new MLGW smart meters are “communism”. More from WREG. Councilwoman Janis Fullilove also disapproves of the push, as does the union that represents utility workers. MLGW hopes to switch 24,000 customers to the meters.

Charter Schools: More than 40 charter schools are preparing to open this Fall in Shelby County.

Second Amendment: There is already strong resistance to allowing school employees to concealed carry in the Shelby County school district. Mississippi’s Hinds County judge Winston Kiddput a permanent injunction on that state’s open carry law, pending a new hearing; more from WATN, WMC, WREG.

Education: The activist group, StudentsFirst, led by Michelle Rhee, is making political donations to State politicians and local school board members. Governor Bill Haslam says he’s seeing a surprising level of support for school choice.

DeSoto County: Horn Lake Mayor Alan Latimer is going to require receipts for all City expenses. This year’s Dizzy Dean Little League World Series will provide a $10 million boost to the Southaven economy this week; more from WREG. Southaven will discontinue the annual conference party tradition of years past.

Memphis Police Department: With $6 million in City budget cuts to absorb, a lot of citizens are fearful of what that means to police coverage. It could mean as many as three precincts could be closed. The City wants to half the number of false alarm calls to two before a $25 charge kicks in.

Trayvon Martin: Following Saturday’s “not guilty” in the trial of George Zimmerman the Memphis Eighth District Congressman, Steve Cohen, wants the Federal government to find civil rights or hate crime charges to bring against Zimmerman; more from WATN. Local reaction. Dozens protested in Memphis; more from WREG.

Arkansas: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected the wording of a repeal of the State’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. A security official with the Arkansas Lottery has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly a half-million dollars worth of tickets. Eighteen percent of the state is in a moderate drought. The State has begun promoting its Health Insurance Marketplace, part of the Affordable Care Act.

Greenline: There is a plan to extend the Shelby Farms Greenline across Germantown Parkway, using Federal and private money. More from WREG. The Daily News looks at the business springing up along the Greenline route.

Nineteenth Century Club: Environmental Court judge Larry Potter has prohibited the demolition of the building until questions about the sale are settled.

Local Media: From the Daily News and WKNO, Behind the Headlines, a weekly roundtable discussion of local news. And Informed Sources, a similar program, from WREG on smart meters, the City budget and the County Commission. Hollywood filmmakers often skip over Memphis locations.

Mosquitos: It’s that time of year and WATN offer some expert advice on mosquito control.

Millington: State investigators are looking into the fire at Pollution Control Industries, which injured two workers. Strong-arm robberies are on the rise.

Summer: Electrolux and the Registered Nurses Club separately worked to donate fans to the aged. More from WMC. With the torrid heat, please be watchful over your pets.

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Suburban School Districts: The cities of Lakeland and Arlington might be able to share a school superintendent. Early voting in the six municipalities voting on school districts has topped 10,000.

Shelby County Schools: Food Services will provide cookies and milk and a late afternoon meal to students this year. Hundreds of City schools janitors are worried they won’t have jobs in the unified County system. Many students are still unsure where they will attend school. As the new school year bears down there are many unanswered questions. Special Master Rick Masson has submitted his bill: $28,750.

Bass Pro Pyramid: With little notice or fanfare, contracts have been changed about construction that might leave the City of Memphis on the hood for millions. There will now be no BPS logo on the north side of the building.

State Politics: How close is Governor Bill Haslam to his aides? This close says the Tennessean. State government has extended unemployment benefits for workers with children until next year. The Tennessean reports on the First Amendment and its popularity in Tennessee. The ousted mayor of East Ridge, Tim Gobble, has been appointed by Governor Haslam to the Parole Board; but there are questions of ethics. State Senator Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, has raised $300,000 this quarter towards his re-election. Lt Gov Ron Ramsey publicly declined a primary challenge against US Senator Lamar Alexander; more. State Representative Jeremy Faison says there’s no push to lower the State’s BAC limit. Knox County Sheriff J. J. Jones says enforcement of 287(g) immigration policy is coming. State tax revenues were just barely above projections for June, an eleven month streak.

Reports from this year’s Statemen’s Dinner, held by the TN Republican Party in Nashville, by the Tennessean, WPLN, the TN Report. Carroll Van West is the new State Historian. Tennessee’s Legislature may be 100% Christian. Roy Herron has resumed his duties as the full-time chairman of the TN Democratic Party.

Downtown: Even though it has an overall 95% occupancy rate, the Downtown Memphis Commission is offering $5000 broker incentive to get more tenants. Memphis isn’t the only Tennessee city vying to bring State workers downtown–so is Chattanooga.

Memphis Fire Department: In a budget-cutting move Fire Station 6 will be closed soon and the ladder truck decommissioned. Memphis mayor AC Wharton fires back at critics of the cuts, and the City’s budget; more from the Daily News. The Memphis Police Association warns protection ratings will get worse. Members of the Pleasant Green Baptist Church are protesting the closure.

Mississippi: James Everett Dutschke, accused of sending ricin-laced letters to politicians, has had a trial date set for October. Marshall County is attracting a lot of industrial development interest. The state’s sales tax holiday is coming up in two weeks! State Department of Revenue information here, printout here. (PDF document) Gay rights supporters hope to build momentum in the state for their cause. A new Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick, was crowned.

Local Elections: Ballots have been set for the Arlington and Lakeland municpal elections in September. The Shelby County Election Commission website.

Pilot Oil / Flying J: There is no NFL plan in place if Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, being investigated by the FBI, is indicted. Five things to know about the investigation.

Business: Memphis newsmakers, from the Daily News. BlueCross BlueShield believes there is little demand by businesses to lower insurance coverage for their employees.

Kroger: They are buying the Harris Teeter Supermarkets chain.

Tennessee: The craft beer movement is booming in Nashville. Even though the Davidson County Election Commission is moving east, Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville will fund a satellite office Downtown. No chickens for urban Chattanoogans, says their City Council. Governor Bill Haslam travels to Georgia to tell them we don’t want to move our common border.

Can you name the five Tennesseans who have been presidents? Wait … what? Five?

Militarising the Police: Nashville writer Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, talks about the increasing military character of our local and State police. He appeared on MSNBC to talk about his book.

Survey Says: According to Travel + Leisure magazine, Nashville is among the snobbiest cities in the US. Nashvillains, naturally enough, disagree. Our state’s infrastructure has been rated among the best by CNBC. We are the second cheapest state to live in, after Oklahoma. Tennessee was ranked fourteenth in the nation in goods exports.

Picture of the Week

The Adventures of Barry von Grüngumm, here in the Grand Canyon, from vacation pictures by Abe Gaustad. A whole set! ©2013. Used with permission. May require Facebook login.


John Branston: He argues for free parking Downtown. (Via the Flyer)

Gail Kerr: Is the expense of the public transit’s rapid bus route worth it in modern Nashville? (Via the Tennessean)

Frank Daniels III: John J. Hooker is Tennesee’s political knight errant. (Via the Tennessean)

Chris DeVaney: The head of the TN GOP says we need more politicians in the mold of George Washington, like US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. (Via the Tennessean)

Bill Freeman: Governor Bill Haslam should retire at the end of this term to focus on the problems at Pilot Oil/Flying J. (Via the Tennessean)

Chattanooga Free Press: Americans should be alarmed by police militarisation.

Gary Casteel: A Teamster argues for the unionisation of the Chattanooga VW plant. (Via the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Smart City Memphis: They confront some of the myths about Memphis with numbers.

Lee Meredith: Smart meters will save the City money over the long haul. (Via WMC TV)

Memphis News: Memphis can learn a lot from Marshall County, Mississippi.

Memphasis: Fifteen minutes in Memphis. (Via the Daily News)

H. Roy Berkenstock: Trade secrets are an important asset for a company. Know how to protect them. (Via the Daily News)

Guerrilla Sales & Marketing: Stop bargaining and start negotiating. (Via the Daily News)

Matthew Benzmiller and Taylor Richards: Meanwhile, libertarians argue Tennessee is and should remain a right to work state. (Via the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Frank Cagle: Is Bill Haslam a moderate? (Via the Knoxville Metro Pulse)

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