Can I catch a ride?

I know it’s been awhile. It’s not that I’ve been busy – I have – but not so busy that I couldn’t blog. But since the local election passed, I haven’t felt particularly inspired by anything. There’s nothing like Memphis politics to get you thinking.

There seems to be so little going on that I’ve even stopped listening to Drake and Zeke on the way to work. It had gotten to the point where I’d here them in the morning, then, if I went anywhere after dark, I’d hear the same show again… and if I got into the car Saturday morning… it’s on again in “The Best of D&Z.” Not to mention when they take time off – you end up hearing stuff you heard a few weeks earlier. I know they’re popular, but the station could actually spring for a nighttime and Saturday morning disk jockey!

Anyway, just before I switched from D&Z this morning to Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio, I hear either D or Z ask why the assistant school superintendent needed a chauffeur who happened to be a school security guard. I wasn’t familiar with the story, but I logged onto the Main Street Journal’s site and found a link to the story on Action News 5.

So it seems part of Irv Hamer’s deal to be Kriner Cash’s #2 is to get a driver to and from work, as well as to any location where he’s conducting MCS business. Here’s a portion of the statement from the district explaining things: “The current practice allows the Deputy Superintendent to work while traveling and helps to ensure that he safely and timely arrives to and from work as well as the myriad of sites that he visits on the District’s behalf.

A driver is one thing. But it seems that members of the school security staff are the employees tasked with ferrying Hamer to and fro. They do the same for the superintendent. I’ve been at events where Cash has attended, and let me say, it’s the only time in my life where I’ve seen a school superintendent show up anywhere with armed security. It sends some kind of message.

Perhaps security is necessary for some people at some levels. I know the CEO of the place I used to work at has corporate security people at his house. Maybe if I were a billionaire, I’d feel a need to do that too, although I’d pay for my own, and not pass costs onto my stockholders. When Dick Hackett was mayor, he’d walk down Main Street with no more protection than his communications guy (a nice person, but you’d want someone more imposing if you were in a jam). On the other hand, Willie Herenton had enough police around him to look like a visiting head of state. Of course, I guess it’s up to the individual to determine what is actually necessary.

Back to the MCS thing. One of the things Cash had initially wanted for Memphis Schools was an internal police force. He didn’t get it, but let’s suppose for a moment that he was on track about the need for security in the school system. That being the case, why take away from the finite security force that does exist so they can ferry you and your boy to and from? So you can work in the car? If you’re spending that much time in traffic, move closer to work or cut back on your outside appointments. Why use well-trained, highly-paid security staff as bus drivers? In fact, if you need to work and ride, take MATA – it’d certainly be cheaper (doesn’t the mayor of New York City, a billionaire, often ride the subway to work?). Why not use scarce resources wisely, especially in a time where the system is scrambling for money to put badly-needed educational assistants back into classrooms?

I commute 36 miles a day, 180 miles a week. And I pay for it myself. So Kriner & Irv, if either of you are going from downtown to East Memphis in the morning, can I catch a ride wit’ you?

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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