Kustoff Defends Postal Changes 

The U.S. Postal Service cannot "continue to act like Blockbusters in a Netflix world." So said 8th District U.S. Representative David Kustoff in a Zoom address to the Rotary Club of Memphis. The matter came up in relation to concerns about the effect of reductions of postal services on mail-in ballots.

Speaking from his local office in Ridgeway Loop, Kustoff said those reductions reflected ongoing social changes — mainly the drastic reduction in first-class mail caused by the cyber-revolution — and had begun under President Obama. "The Postal Service will have to adapt," he said.

On another matter, Kustoff took note of the fact that there has been no congressional follow-up to the original COVID-related stimulus payments and said that the window for passing another stimulus bill had, for practical purposes, shrunk to the dimensions of the next three weeks.

click to enlarge Congressman David Kustoff
  • Congressman David Kustoff

Members of Congress stand ready to return to Washington to vote for a solution as soon as one is agreed to by the two parties, he said, but, "once we hit October, everybody will be in their districts and involved with campaigns."

• COVID-19 has clearly affected the way running for office has proceeded, locally. Certain races that usually involve a significant amount of public appearances or door-to-door contacts are more than usually dependent on social media, mailouts, phone banks, and — not least — polls.

Much polling is, of course, carried out by disinterested parties and seeks genuine opinion sampling. But increasingly candidates invest in polling, including "push polls" that are phrased so as to insinuate various points of views, for or against. And there are "benchmark" polls, designed to elicit public attitudes on various issues so as to guide the campaign strategy of a given candidate.

Two polls that were dropped last week indicate the range. One, arriving in people's message boxes, is entitled "The Voter Survey," and, despite its generalized name, is not so anodyne as all that, including as it does several leading questions that "push" in the direction of some candidates as against others.

The other poll, on Facebook, asks a wide variety of questions about various candidates and offices, and, to the degree that it deals with positions, phrases those positions more or less fairly. It, like the other poll, seems to focus ultimately on the state House District 83 race between incumbent Republican Mark White and Democratic challenger Jerri Green — indicating that the District 83 race is considered up for grabs. More on these two polls anon.

• The Shelby County Commission is scheduled to meet next in committee on September 9th, and, if all goes as County Mayor Lee Harris has indicated, they'll finally have a budget book from the administration to pore over. Uncertainty over the final shape of the 2020-21 budget has vexed the last several meetings of the commission, and the budget book, which has been firmly promised for delivery on September 8th by Deputy Mayor Dwan Gillom, could go far toward resolving several issues or opening up new questions. Or both.

In recent meetings, the commission has been asked to lift a freeze on new hiring for several departments, both in the purview of elected officials and elsewhere. Those departments seeking relief from the freeze have pointed out that the proposed new positions would remain within fiscal limits voted on earlier. The commission has agreed to lift the freeze in one or two instances but in other cases has held judgment, pending receipt of the budget book.

Budget issues have been complicated by disagreements between the commission and the administration over an abundance of matters — ranging from the actual status and amount of funds on hand to the matter of authority over revising specific allocations. The original budget proposal submitted by Harris for the new fiscal year was rejected by the commission, which, after a lengthy series of meetings, proposed and voted on a different sort of budget altogether. In several areas, implementation of the budget has awaited the final details in the aforesaid administration budget book.

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