Recalls, Consolidation, and *@#!%^&!!!

Ok, so I’m not trying to steal Mediaverse:Memphis’ gig or anything. If I’m going to get in the hang of writing more about Memphis politics from locales hither and fro (I’m in Columbus, OH today) I’m gonna need to read the local fishwrap and comment. So, sorry if I’m pissing on your Cheerios guys.

There are two items that caught my attention in this morning’s CA. The first is the effort to create a recall system for the removal of City Council Members. The second is an opinion piece about consolidation.


How is there not already some remedy for this? I know that in the wake of the Edmund Ford and Rickey Peete bribery charges, the Council was incapable of doing ANYTHING. The recall would at least set in place a necessary check on Council members caught with their hands in the cookie jar, or who are just plain incompetent.

The problem with some recall efforts is that people who don’t necessarily have the best interest of the community at large can hijack them. Ask California how they feel about that. This is why the standard for a recall needs to be set high. 15% of the electorate seems like a good standard. However, 15% of ALL the voters in Memphis seems a bit out of hand. I’m not clear on the law in this case, but wouldn’t 15% of the represented area in question be a bit more within reason? In order to get 15% of the voters in the city to agree on anything one would need signatures from all the voters in one council district, and a good number from other districts (1/7 = 14.29%).

The second issue that must be dealt with is the elections. Who pays for them? It seems like a bank breaker. How many candidates are going to want to run when there are two questions on the ballot? Question 1. Remove this candidate, yes or no. Question 2. Vote for someone. Can the candidate in question 1 run again or is their candidacy merely an up or down vote? This needs to be clarified either in the proposed law or the article.

The third issue is the time limit. Waiting 2 years for someone whose competence comes into question after 6 months is like coming to work after the business closes. 9 months from swearing in seems like enough time for someone to establish competence or lack thereof. Anything more than that, and you might as well wait until the next election.


Let me state for the record that, as a general statement, I support consolidating all the various and sundry communities of Shelby County under one unified government. It seems to be working in Davidson County, and while they may have a deeper bench to draw upon, I see no reason that it wouldn’t work here, potentially saving millions of dollars, or at least streamlining some of the territorial pissing contests into a single unit.

With that said, I only support it if it includes more direct representation in the resulting legislative body. Davidson County has some 40+ council members. A unified Shelby County government should have no fewer.

I don’t know what Herenton and the rest of the “consolidation advocates” have in mind, and without seeing something solid on that end I can’t say I support “his” efforts, but it would seem that drafting a charter that unifies the government and sets forth the timeline and functions of government, while deauthorizing the current charters of the individual communities would be the way to go. As with most things, the devil is in the details, and until those emerge, any notion of consolidation is nothing more than talk, and talk is something that if we could bottle it, would be our greatest export.

I recently abandoned a post on my vision of an effective consolidated county government. If I have time before I have to pull a 24 hour shift, I’ll dust it off and post it.

The Charter Commission has been “working” on questions of consolidation. As of this writing, the last time minutes were updated was on the 11th of October, when leadership was challenged, though the vote was tabled until the 30th…two weeks ago. You can find out more about what the Charter Commission is doing here.

For my part, I sure wish they were better at keeping their information up to date. I’m not sure what the hold up is, but after reading the minutes, I can’t wait to see what happened. The CA has no more info about the Charter Commission meetings since then, but considering they have a hard time getting members to show up perhaps they didn’t have a quorum.

I think I’ll just leave it at that.

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