Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Here’s a news roundup for your Wednesday morning:

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson is now a lobbyist on behalf of Tennessee trial lawyers.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen will host a breakfast this morning in Washington D.C. – and hopefully pick up some campaign contributions. An invitation shows suggested contributions of “$5,000 chair, $2,500 host, $1,000 PAC”

Reid Dulberger, manager of MemphisED – “a broad-based partnership of 16 organizations engaged in local economic development” – tweeted Tuesday the MemphisED initiative has helped create 11,000-plus jobs and helped generate nearly $3 billion worth of investment.

Sophie Cousineau, a Canadian writer for the publication “La Presse,” wrote last week about the news that Canadian company Kruger might join other Canadian business prospects scoping out Memphis. Her piece was written in French, and part of it loosely translates as her saying Tennessee is “burdened by unemployment” and “taking desperate measures to attract factories and create jobs.”

Hampton Sides Essay on Giffords Shooter in Newsweek

Memphis native Hampton Sides, a former writer for Memphis magazine and the author of renowned books like “Hellhound on his Trail”, has an essay in the current issue of Newsweek. It’s a comparison of the shooters of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gabrielle Giffords, as well as the shooter’s motivations.

An excerpt:

“Sadly, the events in Arizona last week carry many odd hints and echoes of the events in the spring of 1968 that culminated in King’s death at the hands of James Earl Ray. Then, as now, the country was fighting an intractable and apparently interminable war against a hard-to-find enemy on the other side of the planet—a conflict that had drained the nation’s coffers and left the populace fatigued and paranoid. Then, as now, the airwaves seethed with reactionary speech. Then, as now, gun sales were going up, up, up.”

Read more here.

First Horizon CEO Talks About Q4 on CNBC

Not long after his company reported a quarterly loss Friday, the CEO of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company went on “Mad Money,” the show hosted by motor-mouthed CNBC personality Jim Cramer.

First Tennessee parent First Horizon National Corp. reported a fourth quarter net loss of $49 million Friday, as well as a loss for the year. Cramer, however, saw a silver lining in the cloudy numbers.

The year was peppered with positive indicators, such as First Horizon deep-sixing its TARP funds, returning to profitability for the first time in two years, continuing to improve credit quality and restoring a cash dividend.

“We view (the turnaround) as a marathon, not a sprint,” First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan told Cramer. “We knew when we started this process two-and-a-half, three years ago that it wouldn’t be a straight line.”

“I didn’t think the quarter was that bad,” Cramer told Jordan, who during the interview had a view of the Memphis skyline behind him. “I think the market doesn’t get it. I think they’re looking at the earnings per share numbers and making a decision based on that. That’s not how you pick stocks. I think you’ve got a good story.”

After bidding Jordan farewell, Cramer hiked his leg up on the chair behind his desk, leaned on it and addressed his viewing audience. He referenced First Horizon’s stock price, which closed at $11.79 Friday.

“People are going to look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I get into one of these (stocks) at $11? What was I thinking? What was I thinking? Ok, here: (First Horizon) is at $11. You should be thinking – pull the trigger.”

FHN Pays Cash, Adds to Board; Downtown Board Supports Biz; Steve Cohen Speaks

Here’s a brief news roundup for your Thursday morning:

On Wednesday, the Center City Development Corp. approved a $101,000 loan to developers that want to bring apartments, commercial space and a lounge that serves tapas at 115 Union Ave.

Shareholders of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company will no longer face an automatic event each quarter that dilutes their shares. That’s because Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. has resumed the payment of quarterly dividends to shareholders in cash, as opposed to stock.

In other First Horizon news, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee CEO Vicky Gregg has been added to First Horizon’s board of directors.

Also:

Shelby County GOP Chairman Lang Wiseman is calling for an apology from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, who in remarks on the House floor reportedly compared Republican criticism of last year’s health care reform legislation – that it represents a “government takeover of health care” – to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Cohen defended his remarks in an interview with the national political blog site Talkingpointsmemo.com.

An excerpt from TPM –

“It was a lie, and if you repeat a lie over and over again it doesn’t make it the truth and that’s what Goebbels did,” Cohen said. “Goebbels is known for political propaganda, probably one of the most successful political propagandists whose philosophy was to lie, and if you repeat it over and over again then people will believe it.”

“Last night I did mention Goebbels because I thought about it and I’ve had people tell me ‘it’s just like Goebbels, it’s the big lie’ you repeat it over and over and over again,” Cohen said.

“No, there are no — Republicans, and members of Congress and hardly anybody in America — is a Nazi. But lies are lies and lies are uncivil and lies are wrong,” Cohen added.

The Newsiest Blog Post I’ve Ever Written

Honors, New Roles and Speaking Out:

Morgan Keegan was the ninth leading underwriter of municipal bonds in the country for 2010. First Tennessee Bank won honors in the 2010 Greenwich Excellence Awards for U.S. middle market banking. Net income almost doubled in 2010 for Renasant Bank.

Also:

1) Amy Weirich was privately sworn in Tuesday as Shelby County’s new District Attny. Gen. Her predecessor Bill Gibbons said she has a “tough but fair temperament.” She told The Daily News, for an article in Thursday’s edition, that she loves representing the community in the courtroom – which she’s done for 20 years – she loves the unpredictability of her new office and she plans to waste no time in fighting “anything that makes people feel less safe in our community.”

2) Finally, the Wall Street Journal’s Wednesday edition offers a snapshot of the CVS-preservationist battle in Memphis involving the Union Ave. Methodist Church. The paper quotes the church’s former minister as saying members agreed to use some of the proceeds from the sale to CVS for social projects. The paper also quotes June West, executive director of Memphis Heritage Inc., as saying “greed won over the community.”

Dansette

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