“I’m like a rabbit in a brier patch”

What Memphis leader said those words when asked how he (or she) felt about the myriad dramas and crises facing him (or her?)

Read The Daily News Wednesday for a look at the person who said that, and why they said it.

All She Wrote

Wednesday’s Industrial Development Board meeting was filled with several hot topics, several of which surround Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Royal Phoenix Development Hotels LLC picked up $3.5 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds from Chism Hardy Enterprises LLC in addition to the original amount of $6.97 million.

Poag and McEwen Lifestyle Centers-Memphis LLC received a $6.975 million redistribution of the federal bonds for the Highland Row project next to the University of Memphis campus after Memphis Bioworks Foundation withdrew its Memphis Specialized Laboratory LLC project due to the company’s inability to meet the end-of-the-year deadline.

The water bottling plant was one of three projects picked for the $17 million allocation of federal recovery zone facility bonds. It was to get $3.5 million with the Bioworks project and Royal Phoenix Hilton Hotel to get $6.97 million each.

On behalf of Chism Hardy, Carolyn C. Hardy, president and CEO of Hardy Bottling, confirmed a letter to the board, stating the withdrawal of her application for the recovery zone bonds.

But Hardy made no reference to Yuengling in her Oct. 4 letter to Charles Gulotta, executive director of the IDB.

“We have worked extremely hard to secure a contract to bottle water utilizing Memphis great water,” Hardy said. “Based upon meetings with Duncan Williams and my legal counsel, the bong interest rate will not be attractive if I do not have a contract.”

Hardy went on to say: “Due to the short time period remaining for the application process, I want to provide as much time as possible for other interested parties with viable projects to utilize these funds.”

Hardy’s letter comes a week after D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. announced the Pennsylvania based company had signed a letter of intent to buy the brewery turned bottling plant in Hickory Hill.

Terms of a possible sale are still being negotiated.

To read more about Yueling’s expansion: http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=53550

Charlotte Bergmann: I’m relevant

Here’s an ad from Steve Cohen’s Republican opposition, Charlotte Bergmann. Taking a page from Christine O’Donnell – who opened a now famous commercial by quipping “I’m not a witch” – Bergmann opens her spot by addressing criticism.

“I’m the Charlotte Bergmann who Steve Cohen says is irrelevant.”


Early Voting A Week In & Other Political Notes

A look at the numbers for early voting in advance of the Nov. 2 election day seems in order. The Shelby County Election Commission data for the first week of early voting is in.

As we’ve tweeted (@memphisdaily), over 39,000 – or 6.6 percent – of Shelby County’s 603,000 voters have voted early so far. Early voting goes through Oct. 28.

The data tells anyone who cares to look at www.shelbyvote.com everything about the early voters except how they voted. It gets slightly less specific with this election because there are no primaries, so no division of voters in Democratic and Republican columns.

Here’s the breakdown by race and sex:

  • White: 52.4%
  • Other*: 26.1%
  • Black: 21.5%
  • Female: 52.7%
  • Male: 47.3%

* other is voters of other races or voters who did not indicate their race at all on voter registration forms.

The turnout has been higher in the suburban areas based on the breakdown of which election day precinct the early voters live in.

The 11 Germantown precincts had turnouts between 10.9 percent and 15.3 percent. The top turnout countywide by percentage was 17 percent in 57-00 which votes at Second Baptist Church on Walnut Grove Road on election day.

But because the precincts are different sizes, percentages don’t always tell the whole story.

The actual numbers of early voters by the precincts they live in confirms the bigger suburban turnout so far.

Through Wednesday, only 5 of the 66 election day precincts with suburban prefixes like GER and BAR and COL had a turnout below 175.

Lakeland 01 had the highest number turnout in Shelby County with 660 early voters from that area. It was followed by 635 in Germantown 04 and 602 in Collierville 04.

The highest number turnout in a Memphis district (for our general purposes the ones with numbers as prefixes instead of letters) was in 80-02 at Kirby Woods Baptist Church on Poplar in East Memphis. There were only two other “city” precincts that cracked 400 through Wednesday, 57-00 at Second Baptist and 68-03 at Shady Grove Elementary School.

As we’ve pointed out in our election coverage, turnout for this election cycle in the past has been relatively high, 46 percent four years ago when the ballot featured the general election statewide U.S. Senate race between Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker. 66 percent way back in 1970 when there was a hot U.S. Senate race in which Republican Bill Brock upset Democratic incumbent Albert Gore Sr. and Memphian Winfield Dunn was the GOP nominee for governor and beat Democrat John Jay Hooker..

This time around the consolidation charter seems to be calling the tune that voters are dancing to in Shelby County.

Our Friday edition which goes online at 4 this afternoon has the latest in our series exploring what’s in the charter as well as a look at some doubts about the lawsuit over the consolidation vote count being expressed by one of the first Memphians to question the two separate vote counts.

And we’ve also got the latest drama between Mike McWherter and Bill Haslam in the governor’s race over guns and permits for those guns.

We’ve also got more coming up in the near future on the statewide referendum on the amendment to Tennessee Constitution that would make hunting and fishing a personal right. The story that kicked off the reaction is in Thursday’s edition of TDN.

Wharton and Luttrell, on Getting in the Game

I think it was president Calvin Coolidge who once opined the business of the nation is business.

To that end, the city and county mayor were both singing out of the same hymnal to different crowds Wednesday.

To Shelby County Commissioners in the afternoon, county mayor Mark Luttrell was blunt.

“We have almost overregulated ourselves into poverty around here,” Luttrell said. “We are digging our own economic hole by the impediments that we’re placing in the way of economic development in our community.”

To a crowd of journalists and bloggers in his 7th floor conference room at City Hall Wednesday night, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton bemoaned the need for companies that want to do business here to have to go to the Industrial Development Board, the Airport Authority, the Center City Commission, city and county government, and on and on.

“It’s a deal-killer,” Wharton said.

A few hours earlier, he and Luttrell were seated side-by-side before the IDB to convince the board to grant Cargill Inc. a tax incentive. Cargill is among a growing number of employers asking for incentives to stay put – whereas the IDB in the past has been mostly about reeling new folks into the city.

Wharton told the board, as The Daily News reported online Wednesday, government officials are “on pins and needles” working to keep what Memphis has got.

I think it’s fair to say whether Memphis and Shelby County get folded into one metro government is not the most important thing that will be decided by the consolidation vote next month. Even more important is how the outcome – whatever it is – will affect Memphis and Shelby County’s ability to, as Wharton likes to put it, “get in the game” – the economic development game.

That’s just my two cents.