December 15th, 2011
At the risk of sounding Grinchy, I’m writing this week about some of the uglier things we’ve been given this year.
While the joint planning commission mandated by Norris-Todd is off to a good start and playing well together, how the law was passed and how it’s stacked to benefit the suburbs will get us all another expensive, exhaustive lawsuit or three under future trees.
The mayoral shenanigans in Southaven and Millington, and the spectacular theft and lack of oversight in Chancery Court are all worthy of ashes and switches. And some serious jail time.
While all of this may seem negative, look at this way.
Because it’s all of our kids and all of our tomorrow, a normally apathetic city electorate will rise and circle any weaknesses in Norris-Todd like a hawk circling dinner.
Because good people were watching, bad actions and actors in communities and court offices were seen and will be seen to summarily.
All of that is positively cheery.
As published in The Daily News, December 16, 2011, and in The Memphis News, December 17-23, 2011
AW, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE. REALLY.
Last week, I suggested we all look around for very merry Memphis things to give family and friends this year. I would be remiss if I didn’t also recognize a few of those folks who’ve been giving it to us, good and proper, all year long.
A couple of reindeer from Collierville thought we were so special that they pushed and pulled something through the state legislature in record time just for our kids and shoved it down our chimney. The Norris-Todd law is so special, in fact, that nobody else in the entire state of Tennessee got one. It comes with its very own planning commission, batteries for two years, a big remote control in Nashville, and – at the end of the game – if you don’t like who won, you can quit and make up your own rules. To play, we all had to open a federal lawsuit (priced separately) and get the instructions from a federal judge.
Mark and Curry, you shouldn’t have.
This idea has caught on so well that the hottest gift item in Shelby County is the Build Your Own Suburban School District Kit. Of course, Germantown, the kid who has everything, got one. Collierville, Millington and little Lakeland just had to have one. Arlington stomped its feet and Bartlett held its breath until they got one, too.
And consulting firm Southern Educational Strategies gets to make them all – changing a little something here and there, adding a precious monogram – and then charging each recipient as if it was a custom fit. Christmas came early for them.
Suburban mayors have also been plenty busy in the public workshop.
Down in Southaven, Mayor Davis gave himself lots of fun stuff like plane rides, hotel rooms, big ole steaks and big ole bottles of the good stuff – all on the public dime. His supporters have caught the spirit of the season though, because, even after he was caught with his hands in their stockings, they’re giving him even more of their money to pay back his debt. And he didn’t even buy them dinner first. No, wait, maybe he did.
Up in Millington, it looks like Mayor Hodges gave away police badges, property maintenance and interest free loans – and got an indictment in return. But indictments seem to be the gift of choice up there. They’ve been giving them out all over town to motels, markets, liquor stores and transmission shops for selling more drugs than Walgreen’s.
Greg and Richard, you shouldn’t have.
But the most generous might be Shelby County Chancery Court. While the clerk looked the other way and all the judges napped on the bench, employees – they’re still counting how many – made off with more than a million bucks – they’re still counting how much – of your money. Individual indictments are being handed out, but it seems an indictment of the entire court is in order.
Everyone in the public trust, you shouldn’t have.
I’m a Memphian, and let’s hope for something better in 2012.