Things that Happened in Memphis 2/4/09 Edition

Ed Note: This will not necessarily be a regular feature. In fact, I’ll probably forget about it by tomorrow. Still, I felt it was necessary.

City Council Passes “Basic Human Living Standards” Law

Yesterday the Memphis City Council passed a law requiring landlords to maintain basic standards at rental properties. *record scratch*

You mean, there wasn’t already a law that did that? Hooooo-boy.

The NEW law mandates that landlords do things like; keep glass in the windows, keep pipes and wire entries sealed, insulate attics, maintain heating and cooling equipment, and keep the pipes from leaking.

I find it interesting that some rental properties in the city may not provide “heating or cooling equipment”. Do people move with their furnaces, or are these slum lords preying on poor people? Just a question.

For a less snarky description of this NEW 1970’s era basic standards of living law, go to the CA. I just can’t manage to contain my snarkiness this morning.

Aside…You know, just a few weeks ago, I was talking to my brother. He lives in San Francisco, STOP, STOP, I know, very different, yes, I know, just listen for a minute. Sheesh. He lives in San Francisco. Until recently, he lived in a house that was being foreclosed. Under city and state laws, he was allowed to stay in the property because his rights as an individual to not be evicted for the failings of the landlord so long as he was holding up his end of the bargain, trumped the rights of the bank, or any other lein holder.

I submit that if we are just getting around to legislating that people don’t live in substandard conditions, that such protections are also probably not available. Further, in an economic climate that has seen foreclosure auctions become the only real boom business, other than Cash4Gold and payday lenders, it might be a really big problem. Just a thought./Aside

Residency Redux

In other news, by the time you read this, we’ll be getting sued again. Yes, that’s right, as I wrote, in a far more serious tone, yesterday, local attorney Jay Bailey has pledged to re-file his injunction to stop the new residency policy at the MPD. Just read what I wrote yesterday, it still applies.

Water, Air, and Food to Get Dirtier

A new study finds that the $14m the Memphis City Council voted in December to withhold from the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, may result in loss of services. Whoda Thunkit?

Following the emerging theme of withholding City funds because they are not mandated by the state, City Council Members argued that City residents pay twice for services that County residents pay only once for.

The basis of this argument revolves around property taxes. The majority of City and County funding comes from property taxes. Since Memphis residents pay both City and County property taxes, we are effectively taxed twice for the same level of service received in unincorporated or county covered areas.

Unfortunately, the $14m may cost the department another $57m in state and federal funding that requires contributions from local governments. Ahh the power of multiplication.

The Health Department administers such niceties as restaurant inspections, as well as tests for air and water quality control. They also provide early childhood exams and vaccinations, write death certificates, and maintain other such standards of modern society.

I wonder how this is going to affect Memphis’ dubious distinction of having a higher infant mortality rate than some Third World Countries?

Herenton Looking For 100 People Who Want to Quit

Finally, Mayor Herenton presented the Council with a plan to “buyout” 100 city employees in an effort to cut costs. His plan comes at a time when the City is facing a $12m to $25m budget shortfall.

Employees who chose the buyout plan will receive four months’ salary, compensation for years of service, accrued sick leave, and six months of health benefits. The plan comes in the midst of a nationwide economic downturn that has seen some 2.5m new unemployment claims in the past six months.

Some Council members ridiculed at the idea. “The city of Memphis don’t need a buyout plan,” said Councilman and English Aficionado Joe Brown. Councilwoman Brabara Swearengen Ware asked if there were 100 employees that the city didn’t need. Herenton declined to answer, but I think we all know that there are at least 100 city employees that most Memphians don’t WANT.

If 100 people don’t take the voluntary buyout, layoffs may be necessary.

I’m not sure if the Council has to approve any buyout plan, but if so, I’m sure Councilman Brown will dazzle us with his rock solid grasp of the English language once again.

I’ll be at Drinking Liberally tonight, 7-9 at RP Billiards, 525 S. Highland, and you should be too!

That’s all for this morning. Have a Great Day Memphis!

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