Commissioner Steve Basar, better known here as Darth Basar, left the meeting early today. He left the last commission meeting early after he didn't win the coveted chair position. He wasn't at the last county committee meeting last Wednesday. Sheesh! Thanks goodness they didn't elect him chairman.
Perhaps he had more pressing things to attend to than the tedious job of doing the thing his constituents elected him to do. Maybe he should focus on doing the job and not so much on obtaining more power by getting elected chairman so he can enhance his resume. Or not, just sayin...
Today's meeting was surprisingly uneventful but incredibly interesting and insightful. Kudos to the new chairman for a very professional and amicable meeting. Prior commissions are not known for being amicable. Let's hope this is a good sign.
Just some housekeeping items to get out the way so we can get on to the meat of the meeting....
Around 4,000,000 dollars was approved for various causes that all have really neat and important sounding phrases like....asphalt surfacing of roadway segments, Criminal Justice Programs, expansion of the domestic violence team in the fugitive division of the Shelby County Sheriffs office. Which means lots of money will be spent. Lots of money will be wasted. The citizens will be none the wiser for the ineffificiency of government because well....most people know more about the Kardashians than they do their commissioners. Sigh.
Yes I know that roads need to be paved and domestic violence programs are a good thing and so is criminal justice but when do the taxpayers ever see a return on their investment and have accountable oversight of the taxes so freely spent? I'll tell you when. NEVER! Because the people are the oversight and if the people aren't in touch with what their communities are doing, the players gonna play.
Enough of my rants. On to business.
Remember the 135,000 dollars that was going to be approved to transport inmates to the hospital/Dr. for non-emergency visits (a deal we wish our Vets could get) was supposed to be rubber stamped. Honestly, I did not see defeating this. It is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things but we are only talking about 52 inmates. You do the math. It's waste like this that adds up to the 1.5 billions dollars in debt the county has.
Anyhow, some of us emailed questions about this expenditure. A funny thing happens when people start asking questions about money. I have seen this happen many times. Had there been no scrutiny, it probably would have passed. The light of day has a cleansing effect and so it was with this. The item was pulled from the agenda when someone discovered the proper bidding process had not been followed and so was not given to the lowest bidder. Well, well, well...now it will go through that bidding process and I bet they will find a company to do this for less than 135,000. If not, there's this thing called Uber.
That was score one for the people today. Now, on to number two.
Some commissioners wanted to change the commissions rules so that a simple majority could set aside the permanent rules of order when they felt like it instead of needing a 2/3 majority. Interesting since I bet if Basar or Bailey had won the chairmanship they would not be asking for this rule change. Two citizens spoke out about not increasing the power of the few and essentially usurping the power of the people by making the gridlock easier to overcome. Some don't understand that gridlock is a feature of our governing process and not a bug. It should not be so easy to change the rules, if it was, then why have rules?
The discussion of the commission on this led one to believe the 2/3 majority issue was just about the commission being able to overrule the chairman. Either way. If Bailey or Basar had won the chairmanship, I doubt they would have wanted to remove power from themselves eh? Common sense prevailed and it will take a super majority to overrule the chair and a super majority to change the rules.
This is what self governance looks like. If you do don't hold your public officials accountable, who will? I'll tell you who...Dierdra Malone who received a 900 million dollar contract for the body cameras the MPD are getting. She's only Wharton's campaign manager. That's purely just a coincidinc eh?
Bear with me one segment longer. Josh Whitehead, the Director of the Office of Planning and Development was amending the Unified Development Code to clarify some things in the UDC. Several items which will bore you to tears I won't mention but the clarification on private sex clubs will pique your interest I think.
Adult oriented clubs (i.e. Sex Clubs) can get very creative when trying to get their applications and permits approved like claiming to be a place of worship or some other crafty but misleading title. These types of clubs tend to bring down whatever area they are in so you don't want them to be able to exist just anywhere.
All was going well for Josh until something awoke the 36-years-a-commissioner Bailey. I believe it was the term "private sex club". He objecting to calling these private sex clubs "sex clubs" because legally they cannot exist. Ummmm dude...isn't that the whole point? Anyways he was seriously bothered by the classification and one can only wonder if that's because...perhaps...he knows someone very well that frequents the club which shall not be mentioned??? I dunno but very interesting the things that can awaken the longest serving commissioner in the history of the world.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. When people know their leaders like they know their favorite athlete, that's when the game will change. I have hope that this will happen. Been to a meeting yet? There always next time.
Tomorrow is the Memphis City Council. Arghhhhh!!!!