Bring in the new Council

On December 18th, the current incarnation of the Memphis City Council will hold it’s last meeting of the term. The agenda for the meeting is not yet available, nor are the minutes from the November 20th and December 4th meetings. This has been the case all year.

The Memphis City Council’s site has been at least 4 weeks behind on reporting the business of the council. Some of this may be due to a lack of staffing, or a need to approve the minutes of the meeting, but one would think that a 48 hour turnaround for publishing the proposed minutes would be more than enough time. The people of the City of Memphis have a right to know what has happened in their legislative body in a timely manner. In the absence of a news daily reporting the admittedly dry business of the council, it is invaluable to have a record of the meeting available as soon as possible. Here’s to hoping the new council will take this more seriously, or at least do something to reduce the amount of time between the meetings and the open reportage of the meeting.

Speaking of that local “news daily” that is slacking on it’s duty… today the CA published a fluff piece on the incoming council members and role of the Tennessee Sunshine Law on the way they do business, both officially and in their personal lives.

Next year, 70% of the council will be new faces…new to the council anyway. One of those nine members will enter their service under a cloud. This presents an early potential fight that could affect the future effectiveness of the council we elected to serve for the next four years. We should hope, for the sake of the city that Halbert has done no wrong and withhold judgment until any “potential” indictment is handed down.

The Council has a lot of business to attend to over the next four years. One major item is Mayoral Succession. The issue was brought up by outgoing Council member and former Mayoral candidate Carol Chumney. Currently, if the Mayor resigns or is incapacitated, the Council chair takes over for 20 days. The Council has 20 days to appoint a new mayor. If none is appointed the city CAO, an appointed position, takes the reigns. This may have been an acceptable situation at one point, but no longer. A real line of succession needs to be established for the position of Mayor that includes a special election. While the City Council has no say in charter changes, they need to go on record either individually or as a body on this important issue.

There are several other issues that the Council will need to take up, in one way or another that I’ll be discussing over the next few days. Unfortunately, because of the way our City Charter is written, some may be outside the realm of the Council. This is where advocacy leadership comes into play. I’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts.

All told, this stands to be an interesting year for the City of Memphis. I’m looking forward to it, and hope that our new council can come together to help address the many issues facing the community.

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