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Re: “On Reinventing Government or 347-8623.


Once again, thanks for engaging this important issue.

We are seeing some version of this comment sprinkled everywhere, and it is the usual magical fairy dust that otherwise tough-thinking, engaged citizens love to inhale: “Memphis and Shelby County may have an outdated government structure. The case for changing it would have more clout if the elected and appointed city and county leadership independently pared their budgets. If the leadership can't cut two governments down to size, how will one big government be cut down to size?”

Here’s the thing, John – for how many decades have people been saying this? And what happens, year after year after year? The structure of government in Memphis/Shelby is killing us, John – almost everyone we talk to agrees on that. Again we ask – offer some ideas you believe the Charter Commission would be wise to include in its document.

And it is a fallacy to say the new charter would create one bigger government. If we leverage resources -- one IT department instead of two, one mayoral staff instead of two, one CAO and staff, one CFO and staff, etc. -- then over time, yes indeed, attrition can and will reduce the size of government. Not to mention eliminating whole sets of onerous regulations smothering entrepreneurship and economic development. Plus, speaking with one voice and eliminating duplicative services would amplify our ability to raise revenue from various sources -- not least by bringing more clout to Nashville and D.C. Right now, the rest of the state (not to mention Miss. and Ark.) knows it can count on Memphis/Shelby to bicker and squabble and come to the table weary and bitter and begging for scraps.

When Jacksonville general counsel Rick Mullaney visited, he pointed out that the Pollyanna idea of just doing some more cooperatin’ and collaboratin’ is insufficient for a true transformation: "You'll get some stuff in the margins but it's not going to get you what I am talking about."

The Charter Commission is meeting. Task forces are coming up with ideas. The clock is ticking. Isn’t the responsible thing right now to offer up ideas for how we can get better government?

Come join the conversation. or 347-8623.

Posted by Rebuild_Government on 02/20/2010 at 10:26 AM

Re: “Going Rogue * 347-8623

When Jacksonville general counsel (and former mayoral chief of staff) Rick Mullaney was in town, he talked about how “change is scary for people” and that “there will be built-in opposition for various reasons.” Which is what I think you’re getting at, John. Here is how he explained Jacksonville’s success at stopping the rate of growth in government and turning the aircraft carrier around: “We did reduce the size of government, but we did it through attrition. But the government did become smaller. It was part of the goal, to make it more efficient, to make it more productive.”

The presentation last night (from Scott Sigman at the Memphis Chamber) made it clear that a much-larger percentage of Memphis/Shelby municipal budget goes to salary and benefits than places like Jacksonville, Indy, Louisville, Nashville. As Commissioner Billy Orgel pointed out, “They are providing more services with fewer employees.” * 347-8623

Posted by Rebuild_Government on 02/19/2010 at 9:04 AM

Re: “Going Rogue * 347-8623

Come to a meeting and you’ll see how open people become to the possibilities once they grasp the concept of entirely replacing two antiquated government edifices with a leaner modern government built to respond to the challenges and opportunities of 2010. We’re seeing that once people get engaged with the basic premise, they see that the status quo is insufficient and they start contributing ideas and get into a dialog.

At this point, why get distracted and bogged down by the potential politics when it won’t even be on the ballot until November? There is a Charter Commission. It is composed of people from inside and outside the city. It will create a new charter. Why not contribute actual ideas for the new charter rather than indulge in all the old, polarizing discussions? Instead of us vs. them, why not let’s try for WE?

The only people who can say they voted on previous charter referenda are pushing 60 now. Our discussions are revealing more open-mindedness than you assume, and even tonight, at the Charter Commission meeting, former Collierville mayor Linda Kerley spoke stridently about the open minds and spirit of participation she sees from suburban officials. She believes a “win-win” charter is possible. That’s the goal.

One more interesting development tonight. In one presentation, we saw comparisons between Memphis/Shelby and Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville and Indianapolis. Memphis/Shelby County has 14,792 people in its municipal workforce (not counting schools) vs. 6,991 for Indy, 8,019 for Jacksonville, 7,543 for Louisville and 6,579 for Nashville.

Join the conversation. * 347-8623

Posted by Rebuild_Government on 02/18/2010 at 11:14 PM

Re: “Six Reasons To Consolidate

Guleff is cherry-picking from a flawed presentation, and he knows it. It’s puzzling why someone like Guleff who long has told us local governments are broken now refuses to join a conversation about the opportunity to get rid of two antiquated, bloated bureaucracies and replace them with a new, modern streamlined government.

The study he cites comes from a presentation given by someone who emphasized that he was "no expert" in the field. Furthermore, the very same presentation says that the Indianapolis consolidated government "… has enhanced the effectiveness of economic development strategy – there has been substantial economic development in the downtown that would not have occurred without Uni-Gov.”

People in Florida know good and well that Jacksonville's progress is closely related to the benefits of its unified metro government, which many, many other public policy experts have studied over and over and concluded is a model for superior local governance.

Mullaney, a Republican, grew up in Jacksonville and says flatly: "I believe the transformational change in last 40 years in Jacksonville is directly related to consolidation."

And when people bring up, well, let's just cooperate and collaborate better, he points out: "You'll get some sutff in the margins but it's not going to get you what I am talking about."

This is the conversation we'd like to have -- can we do something transformational? We have that opportunity.

Come join the conversation. or 347-8623.

Posted by Rebuild_Government on 02/05/2010 at 2:48 PM


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