Archive for June, 2010

Transparency in the Memphis City Schools

Monday, June 28th, 2010

With the revelation of the salary discrepancy between the head of Security at the Memphis City Schools and the Chief of the Memphis Police ($167,412 vs $120,180) it is time to demand complete transparency of this out of (more…)

Transparency in Education

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Proposed: That two (2) copies of each textbook used in local public schools be made available at the central public library for the use of taxpayers and parents of public school students for the purpose of study and public review of the contents.

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Moving Mountains

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

It is possible to move mountains! Well maybe nudge them a bit.

Recently I published a story entitled “The Power of Bureaucrats”. http://www.memphisshelbyinform.com/2010/06/07/the-power-of-bureaucrats/

It started as a tale of several employees of the Memphis and Shelby County Office of  Construction Code Enforcement visiting a small office on Poplar Avenue and demanding a certificate of occupancy from three office renters. They each had to pay $69 and were subject to inspection. It seemed like a violation of the renters rights and I asked in an open records request a number of questions about the ordinance or code section applicable, the uniformity of application of inspections and various other questions.

Well I got a lot of response from various people in the real estate industry and also got effective support from City Council member Kemp Conrad. It seems to have been effective and apparently we are going to see clarification and change. I show below one of several communications that I received about this matter.

This note is to affirm to you that at least some of your diligent bureaucracy analysis efforts result in change for the better.   

On Monday , June 7th, after I received and read your discussion titled The Power of Bureaucrats, I recognized that this is a matter that real estate professionals would find of shared interest. 

I forwarded your note to a knowledgeable group with expertise in governmental affairs.  Because it became apparent that this affected many tenants (but usually not the owners/managers), it immediately got passed along to other real estate professionals with similar expertise. 

 By Thursday, I was receiving copies of e-mail correspondence indicating recognition that this was matter that had gone out of control.  One of those e-mails was an invitation to a meeting this Monday afternoon “to discuss how the Office of Code Enforcement determines when a Certificate of Occupancy is required.  … The Unified Development Code (UDC) may or may not need to be amended to remove any ambiguities in this process.”

Some thirty persons attended along with about six representatives from relevant Shelby County Government offices.  It was apparent that the governmental officials had anticipated that those in attendance were potentially influential.  As we arrived, a prepared one page document was handed out.

 They offered a brief oversight discussion of the situation and then referred to the document that included proposed changes to the UDC, which they discussed and advocated.

 Needless to say, this gathered group of real estate professionals had come prepared to tangle with bureaucracy.  Although a few questions by them were asked for clarification, within twenty minutes the group found the proposal to be acceptable, which it was said would immediately be informally implemented by Code Enforcement staff, and be written into the UDC by year’s end.  There is no question in my mind that this promise will be kept.  Any indication to the contrary will should result in focused comment by the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, the Home Builders of Memphis, the  Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and numerous elected officials.

Basically, unless occupancy requires the issuance of a Building Permit under the technical codes, or the use seems inconsistent with its zoning classification, a change in occupancy or signage will not (or no longer) trigger a Certificate of Occupancy.  Josh Whitehead, Assistant City Attorney, presented the document.

You and your article were the effective catalyst for this change.  Congratulations,

Do You Know What Your Children Are Reading?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Reading is one of the great joys of life and the desire and the ability to read is one of the most important aspects of education. However have you also thought about what you children are reading?

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Parental Choice for Education

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

With all the talk about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and money that is flowing into the local Memphis School System and the money being raised by MCS Foundation, we are being led to believe that our education (more…)

The Power of Bureaucrats

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Recently a friend of mine, a local real estate owner, told me about a visit at one of his properties at 1684 Poplar by several employees of the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement. 1684 Poplar is (more…)

Pension Reform! We Must Do It Now

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

060210pensionvoice

There is an article in the CA this morning talking about the proposed change in the County pension system. I have been a member of this retirement task force and I would like to comment on the two proposed plans and also on (more…)

Who is Responsible for Foreclosures?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

This is what happens with huge Washington programs.

There was an article in the CA yesterday reporting on an article in the New York Times about foreclosures in Memphis particularly affecting African (more…)