Looking for a Fix

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton

This morning’s Commercial Appeal reports that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is taking steps to “revamp” the way the City government does business. To that end he’s established a Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee comprised of elected officials, business leaders, and activists charged with evaluating what we’re doing now and ways to do it better in the future.

From the article:

On Monday, Wharton’s Strategic Assessment Committee met for the first time and settled on five areas of focus: taxes, fees and incentives; personnel and employee benefits; zero-based budgeting; capital improvement projects budgeting and debt reduction; and resource and facilities utilization.

“We’ll be looking at these five areas of concern and opportunity,” said Doug Edwards, chairman of the committee and former Morgan Keegan president and CEO. “I know we can do things better than we have in the past.”

City Councilman Kemp Conrad, who serves on the committee along with Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., said there is urgency to the committee’s work.

“Folks should know we have a great city that is worth fighting for, a city with unlimited potential, but for far too long we have been talking about reaching our potential and now is our time to reach it,” he said. “The window is fast closing and city government must change for Memphis to thrive.”

I think it’s great that the Mayor is taking the bull by the horns and looking at ways to make government more efficient and effective. I am curious about how this committee will operate. What powers will the committee have? Will their meetings be open, or better yet, archived on the City website? Will the proposals have to be approved by the City Council?

At least on the City Council front, it’s good that two members of the body are on the Committee. That said, and with no disrespect to the two members that agreed to serve, they’re not the ones that will need to be convinced that changes are necessary. In reality, there are about four members of the City Council that have been passionately resistant to any change in the City government. Excluding a member of this voting bloc may make the body more open to changes, but it does nothing to remove their objections, or the influence they try to exert over other members.

Ultimately, this is a good thing. I’m looking forward to see what shakes out of the committees.

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