Census and Consolidation
If the city-county consolidation Charter Commission presents a proposed charter for a November 2nd referendum, as currently scheduled, the proposal may not include the final district lines for electing the new government's council.
The document will specify the number of council members, whether they will be elected from single- or multi-member districts, and whether there will be any super districts or at-large positions. District lines will be included, but under court rulings, federal requirements, and state law, they will be based on population figures from the 2000 census, which are now 10 years out of date.
Census workers will conduct the 2010 census during March and April, but the first results are not expected to be released until late December, and the target date for releasing detailed numbers for drawing and redrawing districts is April 1, 2011. If the proposed charter is approved in November, it could set the first election on a date too early for the 2010 census results to be used in redrawing the districts. Council members would therefore be serving in districts shaped by the 2000 census.
It's likely that significant shifts of population have occurred in Memphis and Shelby County since 2000.
The state metropolitan government law allows the Charter Commission to ask the County Commission and City Council to extend the nine-month time limit it is currently under in completing a proposed charter. It appears the earliest a referendum could be held after the new census figures become available would be late spring or early summer 2011, when the referendum would likely be a stand-alone item on the ballot and not part of a major election, as it would be in November.
The situaton relating to the census numbers presents the charter group with an additional complex issue on top of the others it already faces. The group could go ahead and draft the charter for November with enough time allowed before the first election for the districts to be redrawn using the 2010 census figures. The problem with that is many voters might not want to vote for the charter without knowing what the final district boundaries will be.
It is clear that the supporters of the charter referendum did not think everything through before deciding the referendum timetable.
I'm not conservative, but I enjoyed most of Glenn Beck's recent CPAC speech. Seventy percent of it was emotional appeal and conservative red meat. However, 25 percent was fun, educational facts. The last 5 percent of his speech, however, concerned me. Beck said, and I fully agree, "We need less Marx and more Madison." And I was with him while he talked about personal responsibility, but then Beck took a "Marxist" turn of his own, as he decided to scapegoat a single group for our country's problems. "Progressivism is a cancer in America," Beck preached. The progressives are progressives. Their character and custom are the corruption and destruction of this land. We keep warning you: The progressives are a cancer that spreads inside the body of America.
Those last few sentences are not Beck's, but they summarize his message. Here is a quote from the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Trusts: "The Jews are Jews. Their character and custom are the corruption and destruction of this land. We keep warning you: The Jews are a cancer that spreads inside the body of the Islamic and Arab nation."
Beck is right. We need more Madisons — people who see a country full of fellow citizens holding diverse ideals, not cancers.
Brandon Chase Goldsmith
I enjoyed John Branston's article on reinventing government (City Beat, February 18th issue) and agree with the questions raised, especially why a new, bigger government would deal with the bloated government staff any better than the one we have now. Any new metro government will probably be run by the same people as we have in government now. It's no coincidence that the city/county tax rate of Memphis is almost 33 percent higher than any other in Tennessee — about the same as the higher number of government employees.