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No More Red Envelopes?

I have covered the travails of Blockbuster locally, since the Memphis-area stores are run by what once was the largest Blockbuster franchise operation in the country.

Blockbuster filed Chapter 11 late last year, and a few stores in Memphis have closed since then.

Here’s the latest one. Ironically, after the bankruptcy filing became public, the franchise group wrote a letter assuring customers it would be “business as usual” at that store, and that the franchise group is separate from the corporate parent.

The reason for the rental giant’s troubles are no secret. People want to press a button and rent/buy movies from their couch. It’s that simple.

An interesting side note – Netflix raised considerable ire in the blogosphere over the past few days when it gently suggested it is headed toward a DVD-less, primarily online distribution model.

Norris and Haslam on MLK Day

A busy holiday in the city and the National Civil Rights Museum seemed to be the epicenter for much of that action.

As is the case every year on the federal holiday honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., thousands have come to the museum built on the site where King was assassinated in 1968.

Among the visitors was the new governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, with both mayors and several state legislators from Big Shelby in tow. That included state Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville.

The definition of Norris’s role in the current schools standoff depends on who you talk to. Norris, himself, describes himself as a mediator between the two school systems — not by choice — but because mayors Wharton and Luttrell — asked him.

We’ll have an updated web story posted this afternoon with the quotes and other more precise points. But Norris tells us Tuesday’s special meeting of the Memphis City Schools board will be key to whether he pushes ahead with legislation that would make the consolidation of the two school systems a longer process requiring participation by Shelby County voters outside Memphis.

The MCS board is considering a compromise offered by the Shelby County school system that is different than the legislation Norris is sponsoring in Nashville. Norris insists that his legislation puts on record what is already in state law for such a consolidation including participation by county voters outside Memphis.

He also acknowledges there is disagreement on this very crucial point and that the disagreement may be the point where this fast moving dispute produces a lawsuit and a court, or several courts, decide the point.

One of the Shelby County school board’s attorneys, Chuck Cagle of Nashville, has already told that board that planning commissions similar to the ones in the compromise and in Norris’s legislation apply to different kinds of consolidations, not one that is the result of a school system charter surrender.

Cagle said there are no ground rules for how a transition to a countywide school system works in this case which is why he advised his clients to begin planning for the transition now as if such a merger is inevitable.

Haslam, meanwhile, continues to express hope this will be resolved locally without his new administration having to wade into the fray before they’ve even unpacked their boxes.

Haslam has filled in all of his important cabinet positions with the exception of a commissioner of education. He has appointed the state’s coordinator of federally funded Race to the Top education reforms to be the interim commissioner. But Haslam said today he hopes to have a permanent choice for the post this month.

We also talked with him about the executive order he issued over the weekend that changes financial disclosure requirements for members of his cabinet to match those of the Tennessee legislature. It’s a different and less specific standard in terms of dollar amounts disclosed than the standards under former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Redneck Bank … “Where Banking’s Funner”

In Memphis, the Bank of Bartlett cooks popcorn and bakes cookies for customers. CitiFinancial hosts customer appreciation days with plates of candy and other goodies. First Tennessees have hosted “community days” with fun events for the whole family.

None have actually gone this far – an online “Redneck Bank” with a giant horse on the home page that promises “Yessiree, we’re a member of the FDIC.”

And you click on an outhouse to go to your personal account information.

Latest From Norris & Wharton on Schools

Here are a couple of statements in the ongoing schools standoff sage in their entirety for your consideration:

First, the statement from State Senator and Senate majority leader Mark Norris on his bill:

SB25, which codifies existing state law regarding the unification of schools via transfer of special school district administrations, passed first consideration today after introduction in the Senate yesterday. Shortly thereafter, I was advised that attorneys for Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools have reached an agreement in principle concerning efforts by Memphis City Schools to surrender its charter. Further legislative action this week seems unwarranted, therefore, in light of this positive development. The pendency of SB25 should not interfere in any way with the parties’ efforts to peaceably resolve an issue of such magnitude and importance to the schoolchildren and all residents of our County. The impact of litigation filed in Shelby County Chancery Court yesterday may be of more concern to the schools; it has no effect on the subject legislation.

I commend the representatives of both school systems for their efforts and hope they result in an orderly process. The right of our citizens to vote based on accurate information is critical to our future success.

Second, the statement from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. on the day’s developments:
“We live in a country with laws, principles and procedures that govern us to ensure that the rights of its citizens are protected. There is not a right more precious than the right to vote. On this historic weekend celebration, we all can attest to that fact. The Memphis City Schools Board has legally asked a question of its citizens, and now in turn we will have an opportunity to respond with our vote.

“I’m pleased that the Election Commission has taken a step in the right direction. This is a uniquely Memphis issue and it is a decision that rests only with voters in our city.

“I pledge to continue supporting a public debate that is civil and robust. It is critical for Memphians to study this issue, ask probing questions of it, and ultimately vote for our children’s future educational plan. Whether you have children or grandchildren who attend public school or not; whether you work for education or not, education is everybody’s business. And I encourage you to participate in this process.

“I wish I could say it’s all over. But in many respects, it has just begun, and I will continue to monitor future events as they unfold. I assure you that we will get through it and not only be a better city for it, but one closer to my dream of One Memphis.”

We’ll have a web story up shortly incorporating this and tonight’s MCS board meeting discussion on “an agreement in principle” that doesn’t exist, at least not yet.

A Memphis Company on the Grow

Morgan Keegan has hired a managing director in the Northeast to oversee the firm’s expansion in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area.

His immediate responsibilities include hiring financial advisors and support staff for offices MK is planning to open in its Washington D.C.; Baltimore; Bethesda; and North Virginia markets.

More from the company.

Dansette

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