Shameless plug: Read my colleague Jackson Baker's take on perks for members of the City Council and County Commission. Good stuff. The public wears out part-time elected officials over perks. Baker puts perks in perspective.
Easy prediction: I bet that Anthony Weiner, as I write this, is negotiating with Dancing With the Stars. The vanity, the shaved chest, the guilt trip, the celebrity, the childishness, the icky flirting. He's a natural.
Strange nostalgia: For politicians who had affairs with actual adult sexy women. JFK and Marilyn and the Mafia moll, Wilbur Mills and the Argentine Firecracker.
Worst Memphis budget idea: Cracking down on downtown parking meters after blanketing the streets with them and raising the price. The distance from East Memphis and the 'burbs and the panhandling aren't enough of a handicap? And who has $1.50 in change? And how long will it take that $20 parking fine to escalate into a $75 late fee? Who loves a parking garage compared to a free suburban parking lot? And what about free-parking zones like Harbor Town, which lets people park just about any assbackwards way they damn well please, which is one of the reasons why I like to go there and will drive out of my way to do it?
Second worst budget idea: Charging $7 for car inspections. Insult to injury. And county residents outside of Memphis, at least for the time being, don't have to put up with it. Barbara Swearengen Ware and those clerks were ahead of their time. A better idea would be to allow citizens to pay $50 in slush funds to permanently opt out of inspections. Makes me think of that old line, "I don't want to live in a town where you can't get a parking ticket fixed."
Third worst idea: Raising court fees to $135. This smacks of those notorious ticket mill towns in Arkansas and Tennessee that bust Memphians for going five over on their way to Heber Springs or Pickwick. It's traffic enforcement driven by revenue instead of safety. I can see it already from time to time on North Parkway near where I live.
Hardest call: The proposed 18-cent property tax increase that failed 8-4 but could come back again in two weeks. It raises serious money — $20 million — and I personally prefer it to being nibbled to death by the fines and fees that doubtless await me.
Still sacred cows: Police, fire, unannexed Southwind where wealthy residents pay zero Memphis property taxes, nonprofits, eds and meds, AFSCME, the Riverfront Development Corporation, school closings, paid time off that averages 55 days a year, and emergency preparedness where everyone who is anyone gets the latest computer, phone, radio, and maybe an SUV.
All right, so now my house burns down, my appraisal goes up, I get a rash of tickets, flood rescuers ignore me, and a "did not pass because of faulty O2 sensor." Ah, Florida.