Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Solution In Search Of A Problem

When you have one of the biggest law firms in Memphis (as Shelby County Government does), the answer to every problem – no matter how insignificant – is based on a belief that every solution is always found in yet another rule or regulation.

That was never as apparent as in the recently announced rules for use of county buildings that were announced this week in the wake of the manufactured Kwanzaa controversy fed by grandstanding Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas.

Instead of simply concluding that it was a mountain made out of a mole hill, the county legal eagles were turned loose to correct a problem that didn’t even exist. As a result, we are unenthusiastic about the recent rules restricting the public’s use of the public buildings that they are in fact paying for.

Hencefore, whereas and therefore, county buildings are to be used exclusively for county purposes, such as meetings, events or gathering hosted or arranged by county employees or government officials to discuss or present government business.

Got it?

While it sounds definitive, it is anything but.

First, there’s little reason that other elected officials in county buildings can’t do whatever they like in their own offices, and that includes Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, whose Kwanzaa celebration prompted this flurry of unnecessary activity.

Second, the policy just doesn’t pass the common sense test. After all, all Commissioner Brooks has to do now is schedule a purported town hall meeting with her constituents in a county building and observe Kwanzaa in the process.

In the end, if Kwanzaa was a molehill made into a mountain, this new rule is the equivalent of using a nuclear warhead to kill a gnat.