Consolidation is supposedly a political impossibility in Memphis, but Louisville, Kentucky, a city with some similarities, is poised to pull it off next week.
A city-county merger will be on the ballot in Louisville and Jefferson County, and both mayors are supporting it. The last merger vote in 1983 failed 94,612 to 88,823.
This time Dan Crutcher, editor of Louisville Magazine, thinks it will pass.
I support the merger initiative here mainly because I dont see how the city of Louisville is going to survive unless it can find a way to grow. And with all those small cities surrounding us and a state legislature that has made annexation very difficult for Louisville, its hard to see how else it can grow. My guess is that this time it will pass, barely.
The population of Jefferson County is approximately 750,000, but the population of Louisville itself is only 250,000. There are 88 small cities in Jefferson County.
The population of Shelby County is approximately 880,000, and Memphis 643,715. At a glance, that might suggest Memphis voters could call the shots on consolidation, but there are other factors.
Two big differences: Louisvilles population is about 33 percent black, compared to nearly 60 percent for Memphis. Some blacks fear a loss of political power if the city and county were to consolidate. And the city and county school systems in Louisville merged in 1975.
(You can write John Branston at branston @memphismagazine.com