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The Schools Consolidation Ripple

 

Bartlett’s board of aldermen meet Tuesday evening and among the items on the agenda is hiring a schools consolidation consultant to advise the city on its options as the county’s two public school systems begin the consolidation process.

Among the options the consulting firm would cover is Bartlett forming its own municipal school system or forming a school system with some or all of the other five suburban towns and cities in Shelby County.

The cities and towns of Arlington, Germantown and Collierville have already voted to hire consultants for the same reasons. Arlington leaders are expecting to get their report from the consultants in mid January.

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald, who has talked of a separate coalition school system, is also among those serving on the schools consolidation planning commission which has its first formal meeting Thursday afternoon.

Under terms of the Norris-Todd state law governing the consolidation process, the municipalities can’t make their move on a separate school system until Sept. 2013 which is the effective date of the schools merger. And then the first political hurdle is to win approval from the Tennessee legislature.

But there is nothing that prevents the municipalities from making plans now.

As the planning commission members got together with the new countywide school board earlier this month at the University of Memphis, McDonald questioned how much applicable advice the two bodies can get about consolidation from other school systems that have undergone mergers.

Look for McDonald to have lots of questions as the planning commission wades into the technical details of how a single countywide school system functions.

And he is expected to apply the same attention to detail to the concept of a Bartlett school system or coalition school system.

The key question for the suburban communities is how much it would cost them to get school buildings from the soon to be merged school system. If they have to pay market value, so to speak, it would mean a sea change in not just their debt service but the philosophy of the suburban leaders about municipal debt. That philosophy is basically pay as you go unless you absolutely can’t.

Those philosophical differences were a key part of the discussion about overall city-county government consolidation just last year. Several of the suburban mayors, McDonald included, pointed to the city of Memphis’s and even Shelby County government’s debt as an indication of a much different philosophy of government accountability than they have. They were countered by some on the metro charter commission who argued a larger population in the city and the county outside the city as a whole make comparisons useless. Running an urban government, they said, makes it impossible to do construction projects one at a time on a pay as you go basis.

What comes next for the suburban towns is likely to drive home the point that even if some of the towns band together to form their own school system, the schools merger is taking local government in general in a new direction from which there is no going back.

 

 

 

Soma Intimates Opens Wednesday in Laurelwood

Soma Intimates, a national women’s intimates and apparel supplier, will have its ground opening Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Laurelwood Shopping Center, 432 S. Grove Park Road.

The retailer is a division of Chico’s FAS Inc., which has stores in both Saddle Creek and The Avenue at Carriage Crossing shopping centers. Soma Intimates currently operates more than 140 stores nationwide.

To celebrate its new Memphis location, Soma Intimates will offer a free bra with any $75 purchase until Oct. 12. Boutique hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m.

Soma is just one of the recent national retailers choosing to set up shop in Memphis. Click here and here for more.

Donald Glover’s “Childish Gambino” coming to Memphis

Donald Glover, the star who plays nerdy Troy Barnes and NBC’s “Community,” is bringing his rapper alter-ego Childish Gambino to Memphis next week.

Glover will appear at the New Daisy Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. He’s on the same indie label that acts like Mumford & Sons and Phoenix are on.

Details on the image below:

Good and Bad Signs at Morgan Keegan

It’s been months since Regions Financial Corp. announced this summer it’s putting its Memphis-based investment banking unit Morgan Keegan on the auction block. And still, no deal has been reached.

That’s not a good sign. One reason why: Morgan Keegan producers are starting to depart, potentially eroding the value of the franchise if the exodus picks up steam, and thus complicating a sale even further.

“The vast majority of the Morgan Keegan advisors I’m working with (in excess of a dozen at the moment) are leaving because they are tiring of reading the stories about the uncertainty surrounding the company and their own situation as a result of that uncertainty,” said recruiter Ron Edde of Armstrong Financial Group Inc.

On the other hand, buyers are reportedly still in the hunt.

Stifel Financial is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its bid for Morgan Keegan, according to the news service dealReporter.

Raymond James Financial Inc. is interested in the possibility of scooping up Morgan Keegan’s retail advisory business separate from the rest of the company, according to InvestmentNews.

“I have great respect for Morgan Keegan,” said Chet Helck, chief operating officer of Raymond James and head of the firm’s private-client-services unit, told InvestmentNews. “It would be a great strategic fit with our firm, but it has a lot of overlap on the fixed-income side of the business. We have some of the same businesses and clients on that side of things.”

The World Comes To Memphis

The National Civil Rights Museum continues to celebrate its 20th anniversary Saturday with a community celebration that will feature discounted admissions from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The museum had it ceremonial opening in July 1991 but there was still some work to be done on the exhibits before it opened to the public permanently in Sept. of that year.

Since then, the museum has tallied some of its achievements which include 3.2 million visitors, 434,149 visits by school children, 10,193 group visits and hosting 18 world leaders. When they say world leaders they are talking Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama just to name four.

That doesn’t count the numerous cultural and political figures who were featured during the Freedom Awards conferences that were held with the awards in the early years of the museum.

The array of opinions and personalities was stunning and also probably pretty expensive to continue along with the Freedom Award winners.

I remember seeing the poet, writer and playwright Amiri Baraka, also known as LeRoi Jones, at the conference one year. There was a riveting panel discussion featuring Ice-T and Henry Rollins that held its own even though Gil Scott Herron had to cancel at the last minute.

Ice-T was in the midst of the controversy over his “Cop Killer” tune and the wife of a police officer came to the forum to disagree with him. Neither flinched during a discussion that easily could have turned ugly or personal or both but didn’t.

Among the Freedom Award winners, author Elie Weisel stands out for me as does Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the founder of Doctors Without Borders.

The series is a local undertaking that has a focus well beyond the local. It sets the highest standards for the international figures and voices that the organizers want heard in Memphis. It is one of the important ways that we emphasize our place in the world and the discussions that bring us together globally.

In so many ways, what we do here reaches the world. That’s true of our cultural contributions, the medical advances being made every day as well as our businesses.

It is important to remember this isn’t a one way trip. The world should come to us as well.

 

Dansette

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