TOMORROW: Balloon Boy’s Dad & other poor parenting examples
I’ve been in and out of town a lot over the last couple of weeks. Once I got back, two big things happened. One, the odometer in my 10-year old Toyota Celica rolled over to 100,000 miles. I was on my way to Memphis International Airport when it happened, on my way out of town again. That trip pushed me over 40,000 combined Northwest & Delta miles in my frequent flier account, which was enough to score me a free ticket home for Thanksgiving.
Well, okay, three things. A small percentage of voters residing in the city of Memphis elected AC Wharton to finish out Willie Herenton’s term as mayor. While AC (what does that stand for, anyway?) is a capable man and should do as well in his new job as he’s done in his current job as county mayor, I’m not sure whether he’s necessarily going to inspire the residents to carry our fair city to new heights. Of course, I don’t know whether it’s possible to any one person to do that, even if they’re loaded with charisma.
Mayor (and Mayor-elect) Wharton can busy himself with the nuts and bolts of running the city, but if he’s smart (and he is), he’ll put capable people in as division directors, avoiding all the charges of cronyism that plagued the last terms of Mayor Herenton. Of course, Wharton and his people say that’s what he’ll do. There might actually be capable leadership in some of those jobs now (Larry Godwin, yes, Veronica Coleman-Davis, also yes. Elbert Jefferson? Maybe not). While the mayor is the chief administrator of the city, he’s also the moral leader of a town that’s got some serious problems. These do not all stem from the fractious leadership of the former mayor; many of our problems pre-date Mr. Herenton’s 5 terms in office.
While my advice has not been sought (although, as a note to Cato Johnson, who will be on the incoming mayor’s transition team, I know you remember me from my channel 3 days; feel free to give me a call), I would offer this to start. Forget consolidation for now. It’s not a bad idea for many municipalities; cost savings, efficiencies in operations, etc. Things are just too jacked up in this town to make it work – and that’s going to be the case for a while. Instead, focus on the things that we can get together on. Combating crime. Cleaning up neighborhoods. Providing quality city services. Making the parts of the city without economic investment attractive to people with money. We don’t need more industry on the outskirts of town or out by the airport. If companies want tax breaks to bring their business to Memphis, offer them – only if those new businesses are put in economically deprived parts of town. That will force additional economic development to make it possible for those areas to support new business. That, in turn, gives people opportunities where they don’t have any now. With jobs come taxes and improved neighborhoods.
Be the mayor who turns the city into what it can be. People live in the unincorporated parts of Shelby County because they don’t want to be in a city. Which is fine. The people who live in other municipalities don’t want to feel any more connected to Memphis than they currently are. Which is also fine. There’s enough to fix to make Memphis work. There’s a pretty good focus for you right now. And since you’ve already said you don’t expect a honeymoon — Get to work!
I don’t pay Comcast for the Big Ten Network, so I couldn’t watch Purdue shock Ohio State on Saturday. But as one of the Buckeyes said post-game, their biggest concern is the Big Ten title now, since the national championship is out of the question. Heck, the way they laid down for USC told me that a few weeks ago.
When Florida (or the University of Tebow, as some call it) could only win by 3 in the final ticks of the clock, I knew there was a good chance they’d lose the #1 ranking. I’ll be interested to see how long Alabama lasts in the top spot. They should be able to handle Tennessee this week.
And what is going on with the Titans? They’re letting the Patriots walk all over them right now, including allowing Tom Brady to set a record for touchdown throws in a single quarter. It’s just painful to watch what was a great team just last season look so pitiful (it’s 52-0 right now in the third).
Edit: By the time I got back from my afternoon run, the game was over and the Pats had run up the score to 59-0. Maybe the back luck streak the Lions had going last season has drifted to Nashville. Of course, my co-worker Joe Stuber has a reasonable explanation for why the Titans might be seeing such tough times.