Six brand new members joined the Memphis City Council this week in what newly elected Mayor Jim Strickland called the "biggest shake-up in Memphis leadership in a quarter century."
In a swearing-in ceremony last week, Council Chairman Kemp Conrad said he was excited for the future but noted that his excitement was not a criticism of those who served in the past. In fact, he said the former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and outgoing council members achieved "remarkable results" and should be proud.
Bill Boyd was a member of that previous council, most of which took office in another major shake- up in 2008. In that time, Boyd only missed one council meeting and a portion of another.
He battled Willie Herenton on the former mayor's plan to close libraries and community centers and stepped in many times to offer compromises in big council debates. We asked Boyd about his term on the city council.
— Toby Sells
Flyer: What are the accomplishments you're most proud of?
Bill Boyd: Getting the term limits for Memphis City Council. Also, I believe I spent as much or more time as a council member in the service of the annual city budget. I was able to recommend and gained approval of deleting many of the expenditures each year but particularly in in the first four to five years of my service.
When I was first assigned to be the council's liaison with the Center City Commission (now the Downtown Memphis Commission), I could not help but notice that the commission was, in my opinion, overloaded with too many elected city, county, and state officials, so much so that I thought they had too much influence over the citizen members of that board. So I set out to reduce the elected office holders on the commission ... and reduced the number of politicians by four.
You also helped change the way the city collects parking fines?
I had been told that the city has lost millions of dollars over the years because many of those who received parking violation tickets would simply "wait it out." Upon looking into the situation, I felt that I needed to change this ridiculous law.
I learned that the city already had the right to collect the fee on their unpaid tickets beyond the 12 months and that it would only require setting up a new process that included the city court clerk's office, the municipal judges, and the Memphis Police Department.
I managed to get those people together, and we revised the process. Now, the city is in a position to bring in more revenues. I expect this revenue line item to increase in the future years with the cooperation of the police, judges, and the city court clerk's office.
Did you leave anything undone?
One particular law that I introduced to the council would have required all persons applying to be on a city ballot for office to fill out a disclosure form at the same time they turned in their qualifying petitions to the Shelby County Election Commission.
Information that would have been required for them to provide would be such things as city, county, state, or federal taxes owed or delinquent; [whether they have been] found guilty of any laws broken; [if they have] lawsuits pending against them; [if they've filed for] bankruptcies, and things of this nature. I felt that the voting public had a right to know somewhat about the character of the people on the ballot as well as their business backgrounds, since they would be handling the public's business if elected. I regret that I lost that proposal on a 7-6 vote.