Wednesday, June 17, 1998

Sidebar: Small World: The Downtown Daisy Chain ... Or Zero Degrees of Separation

Eliminating conflicts of interest downtown is easier said than done.

Memphis Flyer [link to original]
by John Branston

(See also main article: Stormy Times for the Rainmaker)

The problem: Almost everyone’s an insider, not to mention neighbor, drinking buddy, spouse, customer, partner, tenant, or employer of some other insider.

Downtown Memphis is basically an overgrown small town where, like Mayberry’s Andy Griffith, the players wear lots of different hats. Or, some say, a “Downtown Mafia.” The media, real estate firms, developers, and public relations firms are key links in the downtown daisy chain, and the same names show up again and again. This is one reason such a fuss is made when new faces appear, such as Dean and Kristi Jernigan.

By their nature, boards of directors are stocked with people who can raise money, provide expertise, bring in new business, and do favors as well as offer wise, independent counsel. And contracts tend to go to the same well-known, well-qualified firms with proven track records.

You can’t tell the players without a program. We offer Zero Degrees of Separation, a by-no-means comprehensive list.
– John Branston

Looney Ricks Kiss
Downtown architectural firm, credits include Harbor Town, AutoZone headquarters, baseball stadium, downtown school. Also did work on Armentrout’s Harbor Town home which he billed to CCC. Frank Ricks is on CCC Development Corp. board.

Pat Halloran
President of Memphis Development Foundation, runs the Orpheum. Former chairman of executive committee of CVB. Former City Council colleague of Jeff Sanford. Blufftop homeowner.

Kevin Kane
Head of Convention and Visitors Bureau. On boards of Memphis Development Foundation, Sports Authority. Co-owner of Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. Blufftop homeowner.

Contemporary Media
Publisher of Memphis magazine and The Memphis Flyer. Also produces CVB Visitors Guide. Ownership group includes Turley, Belz, and Archer. Coproduced special downtown issue of Memphis with CCC. Blufftop office.

Deborah Clubb
Commercial Appeal reporter, wrote conflict-of-interest stories that led to Armentrout’s resignation. Married to former CA executive editor David Wayne Brown, now partner in Conaway Brown downtown ad agency.

Ron Walter
CCC board member, cast key vote to reject Armentrout’s buyout package. Operations manager at WREG-TV Channel 3. Blufftop office.

Front Street architectural firm, jobs include trolley mall, Peabody Place, Tennessee Welcome Center, train station renovation, Fire Museum, Crump Building. Greg Hnedak is on CCC Design Review Board, Kirk Bobo is on CCC Development Corp. board. Both Harbor Town residents.

Pat Tigrett
Organized Blues Ball and Bridge Lighting. Husband John is father of The Pyramid.

Kim Hindrew
Channel 5 anchor. Board member of Memphis Development Foundation. Married to Mason Granger who also has served on downtown boards and had contract to sell trolley sponsorships. Wedding at Tigrett’s penthouse.

John Dudas
Former head of CCC, now works for Belz Enterprises, mainly on Peabody Place.

Jack Belz
Developer of The Peabody, Peabody Place, South Bluffs and Harbor Town. On board of Contemporary Media.

Ward Archer
Head of Archer Malmo Advertising, clients include CVB and Belz Enterprises, on board of Contemporary Media. Recently sold Memphis Business Journal. Moved Memphis Belle to Mud Island.

Henry Turley
Developer of South Bluffs, Harbor Town, and Union Commons. On board of Contemporary Media. Adviser to Armentrout. Political contributor to Herenton and Rout. Blufftop home.

John Elkington
Developer of Beale Street, head of Performa Real Estate. Partner at Performa is Paul Gurley, former city division director, who complained about CCC insider deal with Henry Turley.

Carol Coletta
Public relations specialist for Gibson Guitars/Smithsonian exhibit and others, downtown resident and investor, married to architect John Montgomery who also has CCC contracts.

Norman Brewer
Commentator for Channel 3. Partner of Jeff Sanford in consulting business. Former head of Downtown Association and editorial writer for the CA, wrote book about breakup of his marriage to Carol Coletta.

Cynthia Ham
Head of public relations for Archer Malmo Advertising. Former head of Memphis in May. Also ran or helped run Mud Island and Beale Street. Owns blufftop lot.

Jeff Sanford
Interim successor to Armentrout. Go-to guy when downtown needs an interim leader. Former interim head of Memphis in May and Convention and Visitors Bureau. Married to Cynthia Ham, former head of MIM. Partner with Norm Brewer in consulting business. Consults for CVB.

Rick Masson
City of Memphis CAO, finance expert, and holdover from Hackett administration. Herenton’s chief liaison with CCC and county government.

Shep Wilbun
Shelby County Commission member, downtown resident, CCC board member, has developed buildings on South Main. Urged CCC to make problems public, voted against buyout.

Tom Jones
Head of public affairs for Shelby County government. Board member of CCC and CVB and MIM, liaison with city government. Helped hammer out Armentrout’s resignation and buyout package.

Earl Blankenship
Head of real estate firm, chairman of CCC. Has office and leases space in Peabody Place. Signed Armentrout’s contract.

Pitt Hyde
Recently retired as top man at AutoZone, downtown’s biggest corporate catch of 1990s and title sponsor of new ballpark. Headquarters is key part of Peabody Place. Patron of Civil Rights Museum.

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