Mayor-Elect Jim Strickland addresses the crowd gathered at the University of Memphis on Wednesday.
Mayor Elect Jim Strickland heard for the first time the ideas his transition team members have devised for his administration during an afternoon-long presentation session at the University of Memphis.
His transition team was broken up into eight teams, which focused on the major issues Strickland ran on during the 2015 election. The teams were:
• City Planning
• Crime and Public Safety
• Financial Responsibility
• Metrics and Accountability
• Minority Business Development
Each team researched the issues, determining where Memphis stood on them. Also, they formed recommendations for Strickland, which they presented to him for the first time Wednesday.
Here are some of the highlights of the challenges and recommendations from the presentations:
Metrics and Accountability:
- Treat citizens like customers.
- Measure results to hold public officials accountable.
- Use data (not anecdotes) to make decisions.
- Review city finances.
- Create a “reasonable” spending and borrowing plan.
- Budget based on priorities.
- Treat taxpayers like customers.
- Publish an easy-to-understand budget and financial information for citizens.
- Create an easy-to-understand online dashboard to show citizens the city’s key financial health indicators.
- Give basic financial training for council members and their staff, the media, and interests taxpayers.
- Do not raise taxes. (In a city with 29.8 percent poverty, higher taxes would “hurt too many families.”)
- Break down the silos and institute a focused vision for the city. (“Memphis lack direction of where we’re going,” said Andre Fowlkes.)
- Create a “czar” to review and prioritize the city’s capital projects.
- Look closely at the city’s spending on personnel (like salaries and benefits)
- Break down the silos between Memphis agencies working on workforce development and homeless issues.
- Issue a mandate that no homeless person will die on the streets of Memphis because of harsh weather.
- Create a website (maybe memphisworks.org) to connect everyone working in workforce development. Job seekers can also use the site to look for jobs.
- (On food security issues) Increase breastfeeding awareness in the city, starting with great feeding areas at Memphis City Hall.
- Create a system to feed children in Memphis when schools are closed and in the summertime.
- New mission statement for the city: “Deliver first class city services to every neighborhood and resident in the city of Memphis.”
- Issues are: weak government service structure that operates in silos, poor customer service (“complicated, confusing, bureaucratic, inefficient, and ineffective”).
- We need more data about all of our neighborhoods to see what impact city hall is having at a neighborhood level.
- Create a single, service delivery map for the city government, MLGW, nonprofit organizations, and more.
- Ask citizens what they want from city government.
- Hold monthly meetings with citizens.
- Identify neighborhood investment opportunities with market analysis studies.
- Create a city hall group that supports all of the city’s 67 neighborhood groups.
- Removed boarded-up multi-family housing units.
- Create more youth activities, mentorship programs, and summer jobs.
- Increase staffing and technology at the city’s community centers.
- Institute a universal Pre-K program in the city.
- Improve the relationship between the city government and Shelby County Schools.
- Reduce city wide average repose times to three minutes
- Educate the public on the proper usages of 911
- Fully staff the call center within two years.
- Reduce recidivism rates at area correctional facilities.
- Decrease Memphis Police Department resignations by 20 percent in Strickland’s first year and by 30 percent in years two through four.
- Seek public/private partnerships to offset the costs of police recruitment classes.
- Get the mayor involved in planning issues and goals.
- Push for “good” projects.
- Slow or stop “bad” projects.
- Separate the joint city/county Office of Planning and Development and form a Memphis Planning Department with its own director, goals, priorities.
- Make a single point of contact for developers in the city.
- Have a referendum to increase the veto power of the mayor, one that could only be overridden by a super majority of the council.
Minority Business Development:
- Include goals for minority contracting into the performance evaluations for city directors.
- The city’s minority spending goals should also be used by the Division of Housing and Community Development, Memphis Area Transit Authority, Memphis Housing Authority, the Riverfront Development Corp., and for all other state and federal funds received here.
- Increase the strength of the program with new employees.
- All city spending is directed through the city’s office of purchasing.
Strickland took the stage at around 4 p.m. He said transparency in government is a “real key to me in a lot of ways” and said Wednesday’s meeting was an example, that it was open to the public and in a large ballroom “not at city hall in some conference room.”
“These recommendations will be taken seriously,” Strickland said. “Cost, of course, is a factor. So, please keep that in mind. I like all of these ideas. Well, I like most of them…give myself a little wiggle room there. We’ve got our work cut out for us. But Memphis and Shelby County can make Memphis a better place and I’m optimistic about the future of our city.”
There were tons of ideas Wednesday and they are not all included here. If you want to dive deep into the presentations, here are the slides the teams presented
But rest assured, as one presenter put it, “a change is coming.”