The Morning Fix: Early-voting edition

Early voting starts today for the May 4 county primary, but only at the Shelby County Election Commission's downtown office at 157 Poplar Avenue, Suite 121. Voting Downtown is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Satellite voting begins Monday.

Wednesday's link-o-rama:

By tomorrow, voters will have a lot more information about the three Democratic county mayoral candidates in the May 4 county primary, with a debate tonight at 6 on WREG-TV News Channel 3. Maybe more important, voters can now go online and look at the campaign finance disclosure statements themselves at the Shelby County Election Commission Web site: www.ShelbyVote.com and click on Financial Disclosures. Or just click the links here for them: interim county mayor Joe Ford, General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson, County Commissioner Deidre Malone. Here's our article looking at the disclosures, and we'll have a blog post with more details later today.

At the state legislature, the body got back to what has been its No. 1 priority the last two sessions, loosening restrictions on the right of citizens to carry handguns wherever they go (it got distracted Monday night and Tuesday morning debating nonbinding resolutions on the federal health-insurance reform legislation). According to Richard Locker, our Nashville correspondent, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to send a guns-in-bars bill to the floor, possibly by early next week.

Sure hope somebody bought Amos Maki a drink last night, because The CA's City Hall reporter was all over an epic day at City Hall, with an announcement of what does indeed look like a final accord with Bass Pro Shops to take over The Pyramid, approval of a much more restrictive ordinance on panhandling Downtown and -- oh by the way! -- the approval of $2 million to The Regional Medical Center at Memphis and movement toward asking voters to overturn the ballot measure they overwhelmingly passed in 2007  to save taxpayers money by putting municipal elections on regular even-year calendars (Councilman Jim Strickland believes municipal elections will be lost and made less relevant unless they are in their own odd-numbered years).

In her story about the "extraordinary leadership" between Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, City Councilman Harold Collins and Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, The CA's indefatigable education reporter, Jane Roberts, proved again why she is the one person in the world you want explaining education issues in town. The schools and the city reached an agreement on the ongoing funding dispute, though courts still must weigh in on the matter and if they rule against the city, taxes will likely go up.

Our fine county schools reporter, Sherri Drake Silence, explains that board president David Pickler believes there is a very good chance that the legislature just might push through the bill he so desires, converting Shelby County schools to a special school district, a move that would completely ignore the 9-2 vote of the Shelby County Commission opposing the idea. She also reports from a debate Tuesday night between Pickler and his opponent in the Aug. 5 board elections, Ken Hoover -- who accuses Pickler of guiding the board with an autocratic, non-transparent leadership approach (Pickler, of course, disagrees).

It's movie news and on our GoMemphis.com entertainment site, but make no mistake -- Memphis director Craig Brewer's desire to film the remake of "Footloose" in Tennessee is very much a story about politics and public policy. Georgia offers tax breaks Tennessee does not (hence, "The Blind Side" being filmed there) and it's going to be difficult for Brewer to film the movie here without some creative ways to save the producers money (might we suggest tax breaks in exchange for some tiny percentage of royalties -- so that the state of Tennessee could evaluate movies as potential investments and turn down obvious bombs but go aggressively after potential blockbusters).

University of Memphis president Shirley Raines is in Washington lobbying to get federal money pumped to the city's researchers to create a high-speed fiber optic network linking them together at various institutions and facilities.

In Opinion, the editorial writers give us what we can only call a blistering critique of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's curious stances on the issues of celebrating the Confederacy while claiming that it doesn't amount to "diddly" that some are taken aback when such proclamations fail to mention the evils of slavery.

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As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at www.MemphisNewsBlog.com, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at zmcmillin@commercialappeal.com or 529-2564.

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