Monday, March 24, 2008

More on all of this stuff...

For a man who has won five terms as the Mayor of the 18th largest city in America, Willie Herenton has shown all the sensitivity of a drunken farmhand who has commandeered his boss's tractor for a joyride into to town.

I am presuming that he listens to few, if any, of his closest confidantes. For, if he did, here's how he SHOULD have handled this situation:

My fellow Memphians, I want to thank you again for returning me to office for an unprecented fifth turn, it is very humbling for me and I appreciate it. However, as you know, I have grown more concerned by the day about the Memphis City School system, which I headed for many years before becoming your Mayor. I have watched as superintendent after superintendent has come into this system with a vaunted record, used the system to pad resumes, all while our children's achievements plummet.

Therefore, after deep thought and prayer, I have decided to apply for the open position of Superintendent of the Memphis City Schools. I believe that I have an understanding of this system that no one outside it can provide, and I have the skills to make the necessary changes that it so desperately needs, and I am prepared to work with the School Board, if they are prepared to work with me.

If I am hired, I will then resign as your Mayor in order to solve the
problems that this system faces. Thank you again for your support.

Now then, do you think that the citizens of this City might have responded just a wee bit differently? Yes, there are haters, but I'm not one of them, as I remember his first two terms, which, aside from some scuffles with Harold Senior, were probably the two best terms of any Mayor in the City's history.

The Mayor's problem is that he is his own worst enemy from a PR standpoint; if he paid attention to his friend across the Mall and emulated him, he might have found that there were far less haters than he thought.

I understand that he was falsely accused of serious crimes as a youth, and the mere fact of being an imposing, intelligent black man in the South scared the living shit out of the white power structure when he was young. I cannot imagine what he went through, but he overcame it and became the first black Superintendent of MCS and then the first elected black Mayor of his hometown.

I have even forgiven him (partially, any way) for serving as co-chair of the 2002 Coordinated Democratic Campaign while privately helping Lamar Alexander, with whom he had been friends for years.

We're all past that now, Mr. Mayor. Running for a term that you DID NOT APPARENTLY WANT but doing so just to piss people off is not the action of a grown man. You know better, yet you ask us to understand that you want to go back to MCS, which apparently pays better.

You really need to think about US, Mr. Mayor, the people who stay in Memphis because they love it and know what it is capable of achieving. At one time, sir, you helped move us forward; now, you are our biggest obstacle. Please remove yourself so that we can move on, whether you can or not.


vibinc said...

Strong work sir, strong work.

Can you think of any job, where you go to your boss and say, "I'm quitting. We'll probably...I mean, if I get this other job." and not get laughed out of the establishment?


Tom Guleff said...

If you think about this, it is sad on so many levels.

dwayne said...

Henry Loeb was mayor when I was a teen, developing my political views. In addition to being a racist, Loeb was a narcissistic elitist who put his own ego above the welfare of the City. He made me gravitate towards the Democratic Party. His successor, Wyeth Chandler, was similar in philosophy to Loeb but more laid back. In fact, downtown and much of the rest of the City stagnated under his rein. Dick Hackett came after him. Hackett was a petty and immature micromanager who managed to let Holiday Inn and almost St. Jude go.

While Herenton did well for his first two terms, I believe his own personal character flaws have affected both his administration and the self image of many Memphians. He seems to adopted many of the same characteristics of his last three predecessors, especially Loeb, with similar polarizing effects. The white community is unified against him as was the black community against Loeb. Like Loeb, Herenton has lost many moderates of both races and relies on the race card for support. Like Chandler and Hackett, he has adopted a crony system versus reaching out to talented innovators in Memphis and beyond.

This administration is spent. The only question is when will he be gone - this July or later.

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