Sunday, January 06, 2008

This Week: Consolidating Our Topics

Consolidation is once again a hot topic in Memphis and Shelby County following Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton’s latest call for merging city and county governments.

No community in the U.S. has talked more about consolidation as ours – for 35 years no less – and no issue is clouded by as much misinformation and confusion. That’s why no community is more in need of the calm civic conversation that this issue deserves.

This week, we hope to do our part, and we begin today. We’ll be concentrating on the subject of consolidation all week, and we hope you’ll join in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i agree with you. the mayor is right on the issue of consolidation, although he hasn't explicitly stated the shape or form of the consolidated governments. i believe, this causes fear and does not promote good discussion. i think, the mayor has approached this as a race/class issue but, i believe, people have legitimate concerns. the major problem is very few people know exactly where their taxes end up. so the approach should be about easing concerns/fears not alienating the county residents. in other words, make a case for it including a picture of how government structure would look under consolidation. for example, pre-consolidation, status quo, and post-consolidation scenarios can be done to illustrate tax flow, organizational structure, savings, if any, or dollars for investment.

in order to frame this discussion, i believe, we need to address some fears/misconceptions:
what is the proposal, city government taking over the county, county government taking over the city or a new government elected by the county; which, form is advocated by the mayor.

what role will the new consolidate government have with suburban mayors? will these mayors also be bundled into a metro government or will they maintain separate governments?

what will the school system look like? county run system or city run system? these questions shape the discussion and eases the uncertainties; which, promulgate fear.

without answering questions such as these the banter becomes woven with racial tension, what-if's and non-productive name calling. furthermore, there should be a catalog or report to show where your tax dollars go. how much city subsidy is given by the county and vice-versa. any examples of consolidating departments for efficiencies should also be reported on, this begins to set the stage for a productive dialogue with mayors and voters.