Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove pulled the plug Tuesday, Aug. 19, on a proposed November referendum on a citywide half cent sales tax hike. (Sometimes the hands of fate is on the side of the people...)
But she said municipal union leaders are pursuing a petition drive that could bring the question to the council and from there to the ballot. (Fine, this sales tax has been smacked down by the people in the last election, but by all means, go ahead and put it on the ballot so they can smack it down again. It failed for the pre-K issue, it will fail for covering the cuts to police and fire for the simple reason that people don't believe you guys aren't taking in enough money, they think you are spending unwisely and they don't think the answer is to give you guys more money to spend unwisely.)
The council continues to hear from employees and retirees, predominantly firefighters and police officers and their spouses, at the end of their twice a month council sessions.
Council chairman Jim Strickland and vice chairman Myron Lowery, meanwhile, sent Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. a letter asking him to be present for the comments and criticisms the council is hearing. (The mayor isn't known as a man of the people ...)
Wharton has said in the past that he has specifically not been at the council discussions and debate or the larger debate in council sessions because he met with employees and retirees before the council approved his proposal on health insurance benefits. (The Mayor has spoken, he can't be there to hear the people bellyache...It is done...the mayor's respsonse? See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya)
Wharton was present in council chambers Tuesday for the first time. (Oh wow, he was there and to think I missed that, it may never happen again...I'm sure he feels your pain people, he can be transcendental that way you know...)
The comments the council has heard at the end of its agenda since the decision feature some of the same critics from one meeting to the next. The comments at the end of Tuesday’s meetings went for an hour with several critics questioning the intelligence of the council and whether they understood the jobs of city employees. (Plato once said "You can refuse to participate in the arena of politics, but if you do, you will be governed by your inferiors...enough said?)
One complained that council member Edmund Ford Jr. was showing her disrespect because he was “sitting with his profile to me.” (They are your overlords, if you don't like it, do something about it, show up, speak out, run for office, talk to your friends, bring a friend to the meeting,etc. The respect level for the citizens is low but it doesn't have to stay that way. The power is in the precinct and we all have power there...)
Council member Lee Harris said the comments are less personal than they were at the outset. But he still questioned whether Strickland should caution citizens against remarking on “anything outside of actions by the (council) members … as council members.” (I do think citizens speaking should refrain from personal attacks and keep it civil but at the same time, these people are desperate, you guys have taken something from them and they feel helpless. We do have a 1st amendment right to free speech. The councilmen should develop a backbone, after all, it was your financial mismanagement of the city budget that has caused the cuts to their livelihood...and the disrespect shown to these citizens when they do come out and speak can get under your skin. Still, if citizens wants to be effective in swaying a councilmans vote, you will catch more flies with honey...)
In other action Tuesday, council members approved the transfer of $3.5 million in construction period rent on the Pyramid from Bass Pro Shops to the city’s Housing and Community Development Division. (The council is adept at shuffling monopoly money from one division to another, it's pretty amazing, you should come down and see it sometime. )
The council also voted down an $8.8 million contract between Memphis Light Gas and Water Division and David H. Elliot Construction Co. of Lexington, Ky. for electric construction.
The contract is for meeting federal NERC – North American Electric Reliability Corp. – standards for the reliability of the power grid.
Council members and the union representing utility employees didn’t like that the contract went to an out of town contractor. (Ummmm, why would they even have tried this in the 1st place? Would they save money? I don't know the answer to that question but I would love to. Is it cheaper to hire out of town contractors to work in the city and if so...why not remove the regulations/barriers that keep this work from being done cheaper here. I don't know enough about this issue to say whether I support it or not. If you have some insight, drop men an email at Midsouthsentinel@gmail.com...)
That's all until next time...