RebuildGovernment and Secret Funding
Secrecy in government destroys public confidence. Freely available information, with the means for all persons to obtain it easily, serves as an effective constraint on personal temptation, conflicts of interest and unequal power.
RebuildGovernment has failed to disclose it’s sources of funding after promising to do so beyond the requirements of the law. RebuildGovernment itself is no trivial operation. Their expenses include the salary for a professional staff, parties and receptions, newspaper advertising, multiple mailings, utilities and now offices at its new headquarters near the corner of Highland and Poplar Avenue. And, the chorus for consolidation is only beginning. Apparently, nothing has been learned after ten years of back room deals, corruption, jailed public officials and fired employees in Memphis and Shelby County. RebuildGovernment has chosen to follow a path of secrecy rather than transparency.
Further, RebuildGovernment has repeatedly denied its role of advocacy for consolidation. The Memphis/Shelby County Charter Commission is charged with the responsibility of drafting a new charter. To that end, RebuildGovernment is responsible for holding a “conversation”, providing input from the public to the commission in support of writing the charter. In that role, RebuildGovernment supports the efforts of the commission in preparing a charter for a future consolidated city and county government. How is it possible for RebuildGovernment to claim a role of non-advocacy for consolidation? Why doesn’t the Charter Commission simply do it directly themselves? The concerns I have submitted to RebuildGovernment have gone answered. Does that mean the commission gets to hear only what RebuildGovernment wants it to? RebuildGovernment has been challenged to file with the Shelby County Election Commission as a Single-Issue Political Action Committee. This would mean a full disclosure of finances. This, it has failed to do also.
To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of this process, each organization involved should respect and adhere to fundamental principles of ethical service. Public service is a public trust, requiring all involved to place loyalty to the law and ethical principles, including transparency, above private gain. RebuildGovernment has failed to do so. What is there to hide?
"The history everywhere else has been positive." says Cobbins.
That's just not true. The best one can say is the history most everywhere else is marginal under the best of circumstances and leadership. And, there are very few examples of that! It isn't like there are city/county governments all across the country jumping on consolidation as their saving grace, because they aren't. Consolidation is an outmoded ineffective way to deal with the problems of Memphis. We need truthfulness in this "conversation" so voters can make an informed decision, not one molded by a blovated marketing campaign.
"We have a lot of duplication in government," Cobbins says.
Cobbins is wrong - there isn't a lot of duplication in government. There is bad govenment, though. Why not clean it up? It doesn't take consolidation to do that and should be done first..
A part I don't understand, and a question nobody can answer is why do we need to go through all of this about consolidation in the first place?
RebuildGovernment alludes to "efficiencies" but has never said what they are or what the benefit might be (don't they know?). Seems like the cart is placed before the horse here and somebody (or somebodys) has decided that consolidation is needed without even showing a single reason why, other than "efficiencies" which they can't show.
How much money will be saved, what will the actual benefits be, how much will the government shrink, what will the structure be, how many will be laid off, what will the transition costs be, what will the new tax rates be .... etc. Nobody knows and that's what bothers me. How can you know to be for something without knowing what it is? Please show me!
In my opinion, this is a desperate attempt by Memphis to spread their incredible mess and government cost over-runs to county residents who live outside Memphis. After all, annexation didn't work - let's try something else. The decision to consolidate is an irreversable decision, folks, and I want to know what I'm getting into before I am in favor of anything!
If the litmus test for being a "true" Democrat was actually who one voted for or supported, then most of the Democrats on the Shelby County Commission, the City Council, the Mayor of Memphis past and present and many others should be impeached and removed from office.
The party should be more concerned with who actually posesses some qualifications instead of appearances.
Please run as an independent, Mr. McCusker, and you'll have my vote!
By Leonard Gill
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