Community Pride While Officials Hide

Everyone has their most favorite day in the year. It could be Christmas, or Thanksgiving or even your birthday, but mine is National Night-Out. There is no greater enjoyment to me than to be able to take part in events that build civic pride.

These neighborhood organizations, clubs and associations spend weeks and months preparing for this annual event which focuses on crime prevention. Each year we donate nearly a thousand dollars to several of these groups to help them cover the expense in putting on this wonderful event. If I'm so fortunate to be elected as County Commissioner I will push for greater funding for events like National Night-Out.

These neighborhood groups are on the front line against crime, blight, and apathy but our City and County provides little support for those who give so much. This is short sighted and why it is important to start putting community activist in elected offices.

Each year I see fewer and fewer elected officials taking the time to come out to these events. I guess for good reasons because many have no answer to why these residents have basically been forgotten. Where are the resources to help them?

I can not tell you the number of meetings, and think tanks, and round table gatherings I have participated in. The number is too great. Nearly all at some point will point out the need to "connect" to the community, as if it is that easy. What many fail to understand is it's not about connecting; it's about being hard wired into our communities.

It's about making a long term investment in change. I remember Mayor Herenton's declaration of the "Decade of the Neighborhood." He said, "Strong neighborhoods make for a strong city." I give him credit for the thought, but the follow through was weak. Now not all of it was his fault. He believed businesses would step up to the plate and most didn't. It’s important to note that the type of mayor that Herenton was also played against him when it came to civic development. Herenton was a macro mayor. He looked at the big picture and felt by focusing on that the rest would fall into place. Macro mayors are visionarians, they look out to the horizon and are often loners. This can be very good for plotting long term growth. The problem with macronians is that they can't be bothered by the "little things," which most often is us. When things go wrong macro mayors are often blamed and receive the brunt of public outrage.

The opposite of the macro mayor of course is the micro mayor. These mayors live by the creed that the "Devil is in the detail." These mayors are often most accessible to the public. They often start off believing in greater community input but if they are not good time managers this openness becomes more of a burden than a way to interact with the citizens. The key problem with micro managers is that they can smother the creativity of others.

The next elected Mayor of Memphis needs to be able visualize where he/she wants to move the City and be able to engage the citizens and instill that dream into them as well. This mayor will need to balance between the micro and the macro, but the only way this can happen is that there is a way to connect to the average Joe on the street. This is where civic organizations can play such an important role. They become the venue by which public officials can connect, engage, and share ideas, but if we do not invest in them we kill whatever hope we may have in moving Memphis forward.

What are your thoughts?


dwayne said...


I think it is essential that the next mayor be primarily a macro oriented mayor, to be a visionary and plan for our future. The Mayor also needs to know how to pick good people to handle more detailed, or specialized functions.

One area where Herenton failed was to recognize how getting involved in certain detailed actions actually serves his long-term, "macro" plan. He failed or was not interested in paying attention to the image that his actions convey, whether it be in his personal life or doing things like being visible in neighborhoods after Hurricane Elvis rather than attending a fundraiser in Little Rock.

So it's not as simple as being purely "micro" or "macro" but in realizing the consequences of his or her actions. In fact, I have ruled out several candidates for lacking this essential quality.

Anonymous said...

The root of the problem for this city is who we elect into office. Herenton was fine but over time showed his weakness and lack of concern for what was best for Memphis when he ran for the forth and especially the fifth term. He said he didn't cause the racial divide, true, but he didn't help. He used racism to polarize this city so he could remain in office. For this the blood of Memphis is on his hands.

Anonymous said...

People keep looking for a leader to run Memphis. These people are just politicians. We need to run Memphis and elect people to just do their job. People will always fall short.

Anonymous said...

Herenton had my support up to him running for the last time. He did it to piss of those business men and not for the people of memphis. He didn't even finish the job. Its best that he is gone.

Anonymous said...

Reginald I saw you at Thomas Long's function tonight, I did not get a chance to speak with you. Reginald, you were surrounded by beautiful women, who were supporters of yours. There were more than two hundred people throughout tonight-in attendance at Classic Hitz's. Many refer to Thomas Long as a Wild Card in the race for Mayor. Some of his transition team was on hand tonight. I spoke with one female Long supporter and it did not take me long to realize, I was up against a brick wall.

Many believe that Thomas Long will hurt AC Wharton, while others believe that Carpenter will be destroyed by Thomas Long's present in the mayor's race. Myron Lowery is my friend but I will vote for Thomas Long because he knows how to relate to all people and has the best experience.