Friday, March 19, 2010

A Decent Proposal: Save Shelby County

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 8:30 AM

[As stated previously, the Flyer's cover story this week takes an early look at the consolidation process and players. To read it, click here.]

Tom Guleff and Ron Williams say they fell in love on Facebook.

That's a joke, but Guleff, a Republican who lives in Midtown, and Williams, a Democrat who lives in unincorporated Shelby County, became friends through the social media site.

That friendship became the basis of their anti-consolidation group, Save Shelby County.

"We could not have done this 15 years ago," Guleff says. "There's no way he and I could have linked up."

The group formed as a "counter weight" to Rebuild Government.

"It goes back to the listening tours," Williams says. "I could never get a straight answer about why are you doing this? How is it going to save me money? What are the advantages?"

"There aren't any answers," Williams says. "The perceived one-stop shop feature won't benefit me. It will benefit businesses."

The pair say city government doesn't have the stomach to do the things it needs to do to control costs. If the argument is that you need to cut staff, for instance, you don't need to consolidate to do that.

"The bigger you make an organization, the more layers of management there are," Williams says.

They say that Indianapolis and Jacksonville became more efficient by cutting red tape. They also have questions about how the debt of the two governments will be handled or what will be done about retiree benefits.

Guleff says a metro government will only lead to a continued exodus of people and wealth from the county.

"I don't see what's in it for our community. There's a reason why most folks moved out to the county," he says.

Save Shelby County says they share the same concerns as people who are pro-consolidation — crime, services, retaining talent — but thinks consolidation is an idea of the past and one that, if done, is irreversible.

"People say, 'What's wrong with you? Why don't you want consolidation? It's good for Memphis and what's good for Memphis is good for the rest of the county," Williams says. "If that were the case, we'd be benefiting from Memphis right now."

For more information, visit their website at

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