To my ab­sent City Coun­cil col­leagues...

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint - Your Turn Guest columnist MARK WE­BER / THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

An open let­ter to my ab­sent City Coun­cil col­leagues:

How did it come to this? When you walked out at the begin­ning of our meet­ing Tues­day night, you walked out on the busi­ness of the peo­ple. We were sched­uled to vote on 56 agenda items that evening in­clud­ing: MLGW’s $1.7B bud­get, fiber ca­ble for 21 com­mu­nity cen­ters and three se­nior cen­ters, grant funds to pur­chase bul­let­proof vests for our po­lice of­fi­cers, zon­ing cases for which neigh­bors had taken time to show up and be heard, crit­i­cal grant funds to com­bat drug traf­fick­ing, prop­erty code or­di­nances to tar­get blight, SkyCop cam­eras for eight Mem­phis neigh­bor­hoods, time sen­si­tive con­tracts, and many other items cru­cial to the op­er­a­tions of Mem­phis City Gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­ni­ties we all serve. Items are left on the agenda that are com­pletely un­re­lated to the Dis­trict 1 ap­point­ment.

Your fail­ure to en­gage in good faith with your col­leagues has turned what should have been a straight­for­ward process into an em­bar­rass­ingly in­tractable in­stance of failed gov­er­nance. Our ses­sion Tues­day lasted an en­tire 19 min­utes be­fore you staged a walk­out. Mul­ti­ple can­di­dates have stepped for­ward to fill the Dis­trict 1 seat. Is it so un­rea­son­able to be­lieve that the way you feel about your can­di­date is the way other coun­cil mem­bers feel about theirs? I have no doubt that we were gen­uinely at an im­passe, but there is no valid ex­cuse to leave the job un­fin­ished. Other op­tions and peo­ple are avail­able. Over 90,000 Mem­phi­ans live in Dis­trict 1. If we put in enough ef­fort, I’m cer­tain that we could re­open the search and find a great in­terim re­place­ment for Bill Mor­ri­son. Please re­turn to the ta­ble so that we can col­lec­tively fin­ish the work we’ve sworn to do.

For my part, I re­gret not pub­licly ask­ing our three for­mer col­leagues (Ed­mund Ford Jr, Ja­nis Fullilove, Mor­ri­son) to re­sign in time for spe­cial elec­tions on Novem­ber’s bal­lot. Un­for­tu­nately, this op­por­tu­nity has now passed us by. I sim­ply never imag­ined that our de­bate and process would de­volve and be­come this dys­func­tional. I had faith, maybe naively, that like ev­ery other Coun­cil be­fore us we could work through what is ul­ti­mately not a very com­pli­cated de­ci­sion. If we were to hold a spe­cial elec­tion in the com­ing months, the es­ti­mated cost of $600,000 to open and staff the polls would be an un­fair bur­den to the tax­pay­ers and a fi­nan­cial blow to our city gov­ern­ment that al­ready has more needs than it can fund.

Mem­phis is mov­ing for­ward with or with­out us, so let’s get back to our jobs and the good work that I know we all be­lieve in. Leg­isla­tive bod­ies are de­signed to breed con­flict, and that’s OK. Through that con­flict our var­ied back­grounds, skills and view­points are sup­posed to guide the dis­cus­sion to a bet­ter so­lu­tion for the peo­ple. We can’t be a part of the so­lu­tion or have any dis­cus­sion with­out a quo­rum.

Worth Mor­gan Worth Mor­gan rep­re­sents Dis­trict 5 on the Mem­phis City Coun­cil.

Worth Mor­gan

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