Monday, October 13, 2008

Charter Changes?

Yesterday, I learned one thing very clearly: You do not mess with older women voters.

Or maybe just women, in general.

I went to a forum on the proposed amendments to the Memphis City and Shelby County charters (and sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Hadassah, and The Public Issues Forum). If you're interested in the proposals or, I don't know, going to be voting anytime soon, you should go to Change Memphis and read the explanations of each proposed change.

(I know that Flyer senior editor Jackson Baker has also written about some of the charter proposals, but I can't seem to unearth them on our website.)

The city charter amendments have to do with the sale of MLGW, instant run-offs, city residency requirements, and possible ethics violations by elected or appointed officials. Important stuff.

And the crowd at the forum was, for the most part, very respectful during the event. (There were a few people passing notes back and forth, which I take to be the exception.) But most people wrote their questions on index cards, passed them to the front, and listened quietly as forum organizers read them aloud and tried to answer them.

But then, when organizers tried to end the forum, all Hades started to break loose. Apparently, the index cards — once they made it to the front — were being sorted to weed out any duplication.

And one woman, not hearing her question asked, wanted it read and answered. Now. She was told she could come up to the front and ask it privately, but I guess she wanted all of us to hear the answer.

There was quite the hubbub. It was like the Picadilly had run out of lima beans during early bird hour.

Council AND Charter Commission Chair Myron Lowery, being a veteran of listening to the public, suggested her question be taken ... which, luckily, it was.

And then another woman spoke up to say that her question hadn't been read aloud or answered.

Finally, they decided to extend the forum to take any other questions. I'm not faulting these women: They had questions; the event was designed to answer questions; and dangit, their questions were going to be answered.

But I, for one, am not going to look at public forums the same way ever again.


autoegocrat said...

Do you have any idea why they shut it down an hour early like that? The press release said it was from 3pm to 5pm.

For a moment there, I thought there was going to be some kind of a mutiny. After Cordell Orrin concluded the questions, I was half expecting the crowd to rush the lectern and tackle him.

The whole thing was highly irregular.

marycash said...

I don't think I'll ever forget the look of fear in Cardell's eyes ...

But no, I don't know why it concluded early. I just knew I had to save myself.

Tom Guleff said...

I am always amazed at how prepared the older generation is at these forums, especially on ballot items.

They read the newspaper and they do their homework.

I strongly encourage the voters of Memphis and Shelby County to approve the individual measures to limit politicians to 2 x 4's (2 terms, 4 years per term) by voting “YES” on Term Limits.

DovaEdge said...

In regards to Ordinance 5265 the wording makes mention of the division directors, legal... but the phrase to notice is "but not limited to". I want to make sure you understand that the employees of the Memphis Public Library are appointed. They are not covered by civil service protection. Many staff members live outside of the city limits which was permissible for employees hired before 2005. This ordinance takes the hiring date back to 1985. Many staff will be impacted if this does pass. Remember this is not just about the people at the top, it affects the front line staff of the Library. Please vote NO on this ordinance. Remember Library staff are considered appointed employees not protected by civil service protection.

Polar Donkey said...

Passing notes among the audience sounds very high schoolish.