With elections coming up on August 7th, it's time for voters to make some decisions. This time around, not only do we have to choose those whom we think will make the best public servants, we must also vote on a couple of complicated ordinances with the sexy names of 360 and 361. They are long and dense, filled with legalese in tiny type, but the issues buried therein are important.
For example, you'll have to decide whether you think it's a good idea to pass a recall provision. The measure states that if such a provision is signed by 15 percent of eligible voters, it will enable a recall election. Personally, I think this is a great idea.
You'll also have to decide whether we should extend term limits for elected county officials from two four-year terms to three four-year terms. Personally, I think this is a bad idea.
Unfortunately, I can't have it both ways. You see, in their infinite wisdom, those who put together these pieces of legislation bundled both issues — along with a couple more — into Ordinance 360.
The issues aren't linked and shouldn't be paired in the same ordinance. It's like having an ordinance that proposes to ban gay marriage and legalize marijuana. If you're in favor of one but against the other, how do you vote? It's stupid.
There are those who see a nefarious plot by certain officials to slip in a term-limits extension by bundling it with other more palatable issues. I don't know if it's a nefarious plot or just dumb planning. I'm inclined to the latter, simply because Ordinance 361 is similarly flawed.
If passed, 361 would enable legislation that would loosen residency requirements for county employees, restrict elected officials from holding more than one office, and allow the Shelby County Commission to create multi-year budgets instead of the current practice of budgeting anew each year.
I don't know about you, but I've never had a multiple-choice test where the only answers were "None of the Above" or "All of the Above."
What I do know is that some people definitely flunked "Ordinance Writing 101."
Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us. — Robert Burns
Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the line above in response to seeing a louse on a high-born lady's bonnet at church. The point being, of course, that while we might think we're looking pretty good, someone else might be noticing a flaw we've overlooked.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...