Council Bluff?

There was an interesting article in the Tennessean over the weekend about how the Metro Council has effectively reduced its membership by 10% due to people changing jobs, resigning due to confilct of interest or dying. Personally, I haven’t noticed any disruption or reduction in Metro services due to the smaller governing body. As a matter of fact, I think this is only one small step toward revamping this bloated body. We are saddled by the dual problem of a council which is too big, so that nobody claims any personal responsibility in favor of council-maniac (misspelling intentional) courtesy and a rapid turnover due to term limits that prevent any sort of instututional memory from being developed.

Mayor Purcell has made the bold pronouncement that he would like to see a smaller Metro Council as part of his legacy. This is a great idea, but it would require the body itself recommending that the Metro Charter be changed to eliminate some of their own positions. And it’s being proposed by a man that didn’t even know how many terms he could serve, and he’s the damn mayor!

I wholeheartedly applaud the effort, but with the anticipated influx of yuppie suburbanite new condo residents to the downtown area, I imagine the gerrymandering involved to maintain any sort of minority representation on the Council would lead to more vitriol and less future cooperation than it’s worth.

We’re lucky that we have at-large council members who have been willing to step in and fill the positions left vacant over the past year, rather than endure the hassle and expense of special elections. But with 35 regular council districts, is there really anyone who can claim that they are underrepresented?

I say draw up no more than 20 ethnically diverse districts, do away with the at-large positions and the term limits. If your council member isn’t doing a good job, vote the loser out! If he or she is doing a good job, don’t force them to leave after two terms if they’re willing to do this thankless job at low pay. With less districts, there would be less chance that a bad rep could maintain their position just by consolidating their power with a small, misled electoral base. (I’m looking at you Ludye.) Their actions would have to be scrutinized and ratified by a larger group of citizens, and hopefully informed decisions could be made.

I’m off my soap-box. Back to more mindless drivel tomorrow.



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