Thursday, July 30, 2009
Adieu, Mr. Mayor
He did it, folks.
The longest-serving (and arguably most influential while in office) Mayor of Memphis retired effective tomorrow, as his pension was approved, he gave official notice to Council Chair/Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery, and had a lovely retirement party in the Hall of Mayors, complete with his 88-year-old mother in the front row.
As we have been rough on him over the years, it is all too often easy to forget that no Mayor in my lifetime (or yours, either, I'd bet) did more to revitalize Downtown. It's easy to forget that his first three terms were the best of ANY Mayor in the city's history. When one examines the entirety of his tenure, he's still the one to beat, no matter how many times he pissed us off.
And yes, he was the first African-American elected to serve as Mayor of this city.
We have to remember that he did not cause the economic downturn that saw jobs and people exit the city, just as he did not cause the boom of the 90s. For most of his tenure, he had the right people in the right places, and they reported to him and he oversaw their work, which is what an executive is supposed to do.
Loyal readers of this blog could be expected to jump up at this point and yell WTF???? You have been beating this guy up for 4 1/2 years now, why the kisses on his exit? First, I wasn't blogging during his first three terms, when he deserved every kudos he could get, except when he was supporting Republicans. Which also means that secondly, I was blogging during his later mayoral years, when, let's face it, he was bored and wanted out, but didn't like his potential replacements. Since I was openly supporting one of them, I kneecapped him often.
Yet, he endured, and walks away, if too late, with the knowledge that no one, at least for the first three terms, has done this job as well as he has.
This, of course, does not mean I am in his corner for his Congressional race, t-shirt or no t-shirt. That, of course, is for another day and another time down the not-too-distant future.
In conclusion, Mr. Mayor, go have fun, get some rest, and we'll see you on the campaign trail. I may not necessarily be on your side in that race, but I would never count you out.