Archive for the ‘Pension’ Category

The True Facts About IRV Voting

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

October 16, 2018

 

I recently sent out an email and posted information on my website (www.memphisshelbyinform.com) giving my recommendation to vote NO-YES-YES on the three ordinances at the end of the upcoming ballot.

 

I then received an email from City Councilman Edmund Fore Jr. as shown below.

Mr. Saino,

I hope this message finds you in good health and spirit.

We disagree on many things, but I will say that you are spot on regarding these items. In fact, IRV has been repealed in several cities due to costs and the number of exhausted ballots that are thrown out. Taking to the local Comptroller, Shelby County would have to pay up to $6.3 million for new machines.

I would be glad to provide more information, as the local media has refused to give the public both sides.

I appreciate your attempt to educate the people, even when we disagree.

 

He also sent me to a website (www.yes2repeal.org)  and if you will look at the video on this site it explains the faults in Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and he also sent me the document that you can read explaining the true cost and impediments of IRV. Enough said. Early voting starts tomorrow and please get out and vote and vote NO-YES-YES.

NO-YES-YES

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

October 15, 2018

 

Elections Are Coming and there are three interesting charter questions at the end of the ballot. There is a push by a local group. They are pushing for Instant Runoffs. The three items are written in a very confusing manner making it difficult to understand. I hope to make it simple.

 

ORDINANCE 5676 ASKS   VOTERS TO EXTEND TERMS LIMITS FROM 2 FOUR YEAR TERMS TO 3 FOUR YEAR TERMS. Our history of politicians hoping to get their pensions expanded as they did in 2001 with the pension resolution at the City of Memphis allowing elected and appointed officials to retire after 12 years regardless of age is an example of the need for terms limits. VOTE NO!!.

 

ORDINANCE 5669 ASKS VOTERS TO REPEAL INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING. Instant runoff voting was approved in 2008 without a lot of research and sold as a means to save money by not having runoff elections. Runoff elections are only required in the 7 single member Memphis city council districts. They are not required for the Shelby County 13 Shelby County Commission districts. The money that the proponents say will be saved varies depending on who you talk to. What will happen is confusion, delay, new equipment purchases necessary to implement a paper trail. MY RECOMMENDATION IS TO VOTE YES AND AFTER IRV IS KILLED, to go back to the court and get approval to elect the seven single member City Council members with plurality voting as is done in the 3 super districts and all 13 Shelby County districts. VOTE YES!!

 

ORDINANCE 5677 ASKS VOTERS TO AMEND THE CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT THE CANDIDATE RECEIVING THE LARGEST NUMBER OF VOTES SHALL BE DECLARED THE WINNER, THEREBY ELIMINATING RUN-OFF ELECTIONS. VOTE YES OR NO!! If you vote NO we will still require runoff elections which is OK. If you vote YES we will probably have to go back to court to reverse the 1991 decision which required a majority vote and sometimes generated a runoff election. But if the court grants a reversal, there will be no need for instant runoff elections and its confusion and high costs. VOTE YES!!

 

 

There is a very important election coming up on Tuesday November 6th, 2018. Let us look at some of the important elections.

A new Tennessee Governor will be elected as our current governor is term limited. I am voting for Bill Lee.

 

Another important election is the United States Senate because of the retirement of our current senator, Bob Corker. I am voting for Marsha Blackburn.

 

Another important election is the District 8 United States House of Representatives and I recommend voting for David Kustoff. In my district I am voting for Charlotte Bergmann.

 

I am in Tennessee Senate District 31 and will be voting for Brian Kelsey.

 

I am in Tennessee House of Representative District 93 and there is no Republican running, so I will not be voting on this district.  I used to vote in District 83 and if I was still there I would vote for Mark White.

 

I have listed a complete ballot with my choices listed in red. Vote your convictions but please vote.

 

 

 

Sample Ballot
State and Federal General Election & Municipal Elections
 
General Election
 

 

Your ballot will contain four or five State and Federal races depending upon where you live. All ballots will have the race for Governor and US Senate. All ballots will have the correct district for the US House of Representatives and the Tennessee House of Representatives. Voters who live in Tennessee Senate District 29, 31, and 33 will have the correct race for their district on their ballots. Voters who live in Tennessee Senate District 30 and 32 will not see a Tennessee Senate race on their ballots since those districts will not be on the ballot until 2020.

 

State and Federal Offices

Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee Republican BILL LEE
Vote for One Karl Dean Democratic
Mark CoonRippy Brown Independent
Sherry L. Clark Independent
Justin Cornett Independent
Gabriel Fancher Independent
Sean Bruce Fleming Independent
William Andrew Helmstetter Independent
Cory King Independent
Matthew Koch Independent
Tommy Ray McAnally Independent
Jessie D. McDonald Independent
Toney Randall Mitchell Independent
Yvonne Neubert Independent
Alfred Shawn Rapoza Independent
Chad Riden Independent
Robert Sawyers Sr. Independent
Heather Scott Independent
George Blackwell Smith IV Independent
Jeremy Allen Stephenson Independent
Tracy C. Yaste Tisdale Independent
Mike Toews Independent
Rick Tyler Independent
Vinnie Vineyard Independent
Jaron D. Weidner Independent
Patrick Whitlock Independent
Joe B. Wilmoth Independent
Mark Wright Independent
United States Senate Marsha Blackburn Republican MARSHA BLACKBURN
Vote for One Phil Bredesen Democratic
Trudy A. Austin Independent
John Carico Independent
Dean Hill Independent
Kevin Lee McCants Independent
Breton Phillips Independent
Kris L. Todd Independent
United States House of Representatives District 8 David Kustoff

Erika Stotts Pearson James Hart

Republican This race will only appear if you live in US House of Representatives District 8.
Vote for One Democratic
Independent
United States House of Representatives District 9 Charlotte Bergmann Republican This race will only appear if you live in US House of Representatives District 9.
Vote for One Steve Cohen Democratic
Leo AwGoWhat Independent
Tennessee Senate District 29 Tom Stephens Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN Senate District 29.
Vote for One Raumesh Akbari Democratic
Tennessee Senate District 31 Brian Kelsey Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN Senate District 31.
Vote for One Gabby Salinas Democratic
 

Tennessee Senate District 33

 

Katrina Robinson

 

Democratic

This race will only appear if you live in TN Senate District 33.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 83 Mark White Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 83
Vote for One Danielle Schonbaum Democratic
Tennessee House of Representatives District 84 Joe Towns Jr. Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 84.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 85 Jesse Chism Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 85.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 86 Barbara Cooper Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 86.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 87 Karen Camper Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 87.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 88 Larry J. Miller Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 88.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 90 John J. Deberry Jr. Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 90.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 91 London P. Lamar Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 91.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 93 G. A. Hardaway, Sr. Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District

93.

Vote for One

 

Tennessee House of Representatives District 95 Kevin Vaughan Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 95.
Vote for One Sanjeev Memula Democratic
Tennessee House of Representatives District 96 Scott McCormick Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 96.
Vote for One Dwayne Thompson Democratic
Tennessee House of Representatives District 97 Jim Coley Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 97.
Vote for One Allan Creasy Democratic
Tennessee House of Representatives District 98 Antonio Parkinson Democratic This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 98.
Vote for One
Tennessee House of Representatives District 99 Tom Leatherwood Republican This race will only appear if you live in TN House District 99.
Vote for One David Cambron Democratic
City of Bartlett
City of Bartlett Mayor John Lackey Non-Partisan
Vote for One A. Keith McDonald Non-Partisan
City of Bartlett Alderman – Position 1 W. C. “Bubba” Pleasant Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Bartlett Alderman – Position 2 Mitch Arnold Non-Partisan These races will only appear on your ballot if you live within the City of Bartlett
Vote for One Emily Elliott Non-Partisan
City of Bartlett Alderman – Position 3 David Parsons Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Bartlett SchoolBoard – Position 2 Erin Elliott Berry Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Bartlett School Board – Position 4 Bryan Woodruff Non-Partisan
Vote for One
Town of Collierville
Town of Collierville Alderman – Position 1 William Boone Non-Partisan
Vote for One Maureen J. Fraser Non-Partisan
Town of Collierville Alderman – Position 2 Billy Patton Non-Partisan
Vote for One
 

Town of Collierville Alderman – Position 4

 

Tom Allen

 

Non-Partisan

These races will only appear on your ballot if you live within the Town of Collierville.
Vote for One Gregory D. Cotton Non-Partisan
Town of Collierville School Board – Position 2 Wanda Chism Non-Partisan
Vote for One
Town of Collierville School Board – Position 4 Eelco R. Van Wijk Non-Partisan
Vote for One Frank Warren Non-Partisan
City of Germantown
City of Germantown Mayor John Barzizza Non-Partisan
Vote for One Mike Palazzolo Non-Partisan
City of Germantown Alderman – Position 1 Scott Sanders Non-Partisan
Vote for One Brian D. White Non-Partisan
 

City of Germantown Alderman – Position 2

 

Jeff Brown

 

Non-Partisan

These races will only appear on your ballot if you live within the Town of Germantown.
Vote for One Mary Anne Gibson Non-Partisan
City of Germantown School Board – Position 2 Brian Curry Non-Partisan
Vote for One Betsy Landers Non-Partisan
City of Germantown School Board – Position 4 Angela Rickman Griffith Non-Partisan
Vote for One Robyn Rey Rudisill Non-Partisan
City of Lakeland
City of Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker Non-Partisan
Vote for One Mike Cunningham Non-Partisan
City of Lakeland Commissioner Jeremy Clayton Burnett Non-Partisan
Vote for up to two. Michele Dial Non-Partisan These races will only appear on your ballot if you live within the City of Lakeland.
Michael Green Non-Partisan
Richard A. Gonzales, Jr. Non-Partisan
Clark Plunk Non-Partisan
City of Lakeland School Board Zachary Coleman Non-Partisan
Vote for up to three. Kevin Floyd Non-Partisan
Laura Harrison Non-Partisan
Deborah Thomas Non-Partisan
City of Millington
City of Millington Alderman – Position 1 Bethany K. Huffman Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Millington Alderman – Position 2 Albert “AL” Bell Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Millington Alderman – Position 3 Jon Crisp Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Millington Alderman – Position 4 Larry Dagen Non-Partisan These races will only appear on your ballot if you live within the City of Millington
Vote for One

 

 

City of Millington School Board – Position 2

 

Marlon Evans

 

Non-Partisan

Vote for One Cecilia “C.J.” Haley Non-Partisan
City of Millington School Board – Position 4 Cody F. Childress Non-Partisan
Vote for One
City of Millington School Board – Position 5 Barbara Halliburton Non-Partisan
Vote for One Donald Holsinger Non-Partisan
City of Millington School Board – Position 6 Austin Brewer Non-Partisan
Vote for One Larry C. Jackson Non-Partisan
 

City of Memphis

These questions will only appear on your ballot if you live within the City of Memphis.

 

NO-YES-YES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5676 Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide no person shall be eligible to hold or to be elected to the office of Mayor or Memphis City Council if any such person has served at any time more than three (3) consecutive four-year terms, except that service by persons elected or appointed to fill an unexpired four-year term shall not be counted as full four-year term?
Vote No
I, Doug McGowen, Interim Director of Finance for the City of Memphis do hereby certify that the foregoing amendment shall have no impact on the annual revenues and expenditures of the City.
 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5669

 

Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to repeal Instant Runoff Voting and to restore the election procedure existing prior to the 2008 Amendment for all City offices, and expressly retaining the 1991 federal ruling for persons elected to the Memphis City Council single districts?

Vote Yes
I, Brian Collins, Director of Finance for the City of Memphis do hereby certify that without speculating about certain assumptions I cannot estimate whether the foregoing amendment will have any impact on the annual revenues and expenditures of the City.
 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5677

 

Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide that in any municipal election held as required by law, the candidate receiving the largest number of votes shall be declared the winner, thereby eliminating run-off elections?

Vote Yes
I, Doug McGowen, Interim Director of Finance for the City of Memphis do hereby certify that the foregoing amendment shall have no impact on the annual revenues and expenditures of the City.

 

NO-YES-YES

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

 

September 18, 2018

 

NO-YES-YES

 

There are three interesting proposals at the end of the upcoming November 6th ballot here in Memphis.

These three are very interesting and particularly difficult to understand but I will try to explain them to the best of my ability and research.

 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5676 Vote yes or NO

Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide no person shall be eligible to hold or to be elected to the office of Mayor or Memphis City Council if any such person has served at any time more than three (3) consecutive four-year terms, except that service by persons elected or appointed to fill an unexpired four-year term shall not be counted as full four-year term? Vote NO

 

 

This is an attempt by the political class to undue the terms limits put on the City of Memphis by voters. You can see what happens when politicians get too many terms in office. Look at the 2001 pension resolution by the City of Memphis when they approved elected and appointed officials to get immediate pensions after 12 years of service regardless of age. This cost the city of Memphis millions until finally rescinded. More recently the Shelby County Commission tried a similar plan which was vetoed by the outgoing County Mayor and may come up again with the new County Commission and new County Mayor. VOTE NO!

 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5677 Vote YES  or no

 

Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to repeal Instatnt Runoff Voting and to restore the election procedure existing prior to the 2008 Amendment for all City offices, and expressly retaining the 1991 federal ruling for persons elected to the Memphis City Council single districts?

 

Instant runoff voting is a very bad idea and it is being sold to save money by not having a run off election. Nationwide it has proved to not work and to cause confusion with the electorate. More importantly it does not necessarily lead to a candidate winning with a majority as is required in the single member districts of the City Council. A good example is the 2015 election to the City Council. City council races for Districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 required runoff elections on November 19, 2015, with no candidates receiving majorities of the general election vote. A particularly bad example was the race eventually won by Worth Morgan.  There were 4 candidates in the first round that won 90% of the votes. In the runoff between Morgan and Springer, Morgan won by only 136 votes. If we had had instant runoff voting it is probable someone else would have won and that person would have won without a majority of voters thus violating the 1991 federal ruling. 2nd and 3rd choices do not count as a majority decision and you end up with a winning plurality candidate. Only a one on one runoff election insures a majority winner. VOTE YES!

 

City of Memphis Ordinance #5677 Vote yes or NO

Shall the Charter of the City of Memphis, Tennessee be amended to provide that in any municipal election held as required by law, the candidate receiving the largest number of votes shall be declared the winner, thereby eliminating run-off elections?

 

This is an attempt to change from a majority vote system to a plurality vote system. The County uses a plurality system for their 13 seats on the County Commission as to the 6 City Council members in the super districts. These runoff elections which happen only in the 7 City Council single member districts were caused by a 1991 court ruling should be reversed as circumstances and population has changed. VoteYES and pending the court ruling there will no longer be a need for runoff elections.

The New Shelby County Government Is Looking Like the Old City Government

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

September 4, 2018

The New Shelby County Government Is Looking Like the Old City Government

 

The new Shelby County government is just beginning and we all wish them well. We all want and need low cost and efficient government to furnish fire and police services, bring us our utilities, repair our roads, run our legal system, furnish medical services and educate our children.

 

Shelby County government has been well run for many years as compared to the City of Memphis. Let me give you several examples.

 

In 2007 the Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued GASB 45 which required that other post-employment benefits (OPEB) must be recognized as the benefits earned rather than as they are paid. The county in 2008 made certain positive changes as shown on the attached document. The City of Memphis did nothing until 2017 when they made changes to the benefit plan. The County OPEB unfunded liability went from $319 million in 2008 to $46 million today. The City of Memphis did nothing until 2017 when the benefit changes brought the unfunded liability from $857 million to $417 million, due to plan benefit changes.

 

The City of Memphis pension board regularly approves line of duty liability at 10 times the rate per employee as the County and the MLGW. This has led to an annual cost for LOD disability for the city of Memphis of some $17 million dollars per year, 10 times that of the County and the MLGW. The problem is the makeup of the pension board membership that grants these LOD disability pensions.

 

And finally, the new County pension scam allowing benefits for life with 12 years of service looks much like the January 2001 pension scam of the City of Memphis. That disastrous action allowed elected and appointed employees with 12 years of service to receive their lifetime pensions immediately.

 

It is noteworthy that the new county resolution passed with an 8-2 majority. Commissioner Walter Bailey sponsored the resolution saying that “since elected officials with term limits shouldn’t be penalized for their public service”. Commissioner Walter Bailey was term limited after his first two 4 year terms and then reelected later after laying out for a term for another term.

 

Now some politicians want to do away with term limits. The above scams only make me want to tighten terms limits so that term limited politicians do not twist the rules to feather their nests. We need term limits pension scam rules not only locally but also for the US House of Representatives and for the US Congress.

 

What are your thoughts?

There Is No 4 Or 8 Year Solution To Poverty

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Lee Harris will become the new Shelby County mayor on September 3rd of this year. In a recent article in the CA he stated that he would use the borrowing power of the state’s most populous county to spur regrowth in old Memphis neighborhoods and ease poverty. A graduate of Yale law school, he wants blight and poverty eased, and favors building four or five public schools (each costing $100 million) in humble neighborhoods.

 

He states that better schools would help children climb out of poverty. Improved education and could draw new residents in waves. They’d repair blighted houses to live near the schools, bring new life to entire neighborhoods. He’d have the county borrow the school construction money.

 

I have several thoughts about his vision.

 

  • A fancy $100 million-dollar school building does not guarantee a great educational institution. It is the eager to learn students and great teachers that make a great learning place.
  • How do you pay for $500 million dollars in bonds for education services without raising property taxes or cutting other county obligations such a health services, law and fire services, pension and OPEB obligations?

 

These short-sighted political solutions to a long-term problem is typical of many politicians. The real problem of poverty lies in a lack of education in the population that Mr. Harris wants to help but his solution will not work and could be counterproductive. Poor education is a generational problem caused by the destruction of the family and children growing up without the support of two parents who demand that their children learn principally at home and also in school. A demand for learning at home and for discipline is what is missing and fancy schools will not help.

What is your opinion of Mr. Harris’s plan to end poverty?

ELECTIONS ARE COMING

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Elections Are Coming

 

July 11, 2018

 

There is an important election coming up on August 2, 2018. Let us look at some of the important elections.

A new Tennessee Governor will be elected as our current governor is term limited. You will be asked to choose whether to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. I am voting in the Republican primary. For me it comes down to Diane Black or Randy Boyd. I met Ms. Black recently and was impressed. Mr. Boyd has the support of Mike Huckabee. Take your pick but I am voting for Ms. Black.

Another important election is the United States Senate because of the retirement of our current senator, Bob Corker. I am voting for Marsha Blackburn. She will have a tough fight in November against Phil Bredesen, the Democrat.

The most important local election is the County Mayoral election. Shelby County has been well run under Mayor Luttrell and David Lenoir is the best candidate and I will be voting for him.

Another important election is the District 8 United States House of Representatives between the current representative, David Kustoff, and George Flinn. I know and like George and while he has a high hill to climb I would vote for him, but I am not in his district. In my district I am voting for Charlotte Bergmann.

I am in Tennessee Senate District 31 and will be voting for Brian Kelsey.

I am in Tennessee House of Representative District 93 and there is no Republican running, so I will not be voting on this district.  I used to vote in District 83 and if I was still there I would vote for Mark White.

Another important election is the Shelby County Commissioners. I am voting in District 7 and will vote for Samuel D. Goff. I recommend the republican candidates where they are running.

I have listed a complete ballot with my choices listed in red. Vote your convictions but please vote.

Why Can’t The Public See Public Bids And Price differentials?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

April 10, 2018

 

Why Can’t The Public See Public Bids And Price differentials?

 

Bids for items purchased by public entities should be open and public information. Organizations such as the City of Memphis, Shelby County, MLGW and others paid for by local, state or federal tax money should have transparency on their bids.

However, this is not the case. Here are some local examples.

If you go to the City of Memphis website (www.memphistn.gov) and click on Business and then on RFPS and RFQS (request for proposals and request for quotations) and click on current solicitations you will see a table of upcoming quotations.

However In regards to the posting of Bid Awards online, the City currently does not post these online, but plans are in motion to soon place online links to reports detailing all bid awards for a given time frame plus the awarded vendor name, amount, description of the bid and Division name.  (attached are two examples of this report—one for 2017 and one for 2018 YTD).  However, there is no report available that includes the above information along with details on the losing bidders. Info on losing bidders would have to be obtained via the Open Records Request system on an individual bid basis or by reviewing the contract documents for each awarded contract.

If you look at the above two lists (one for 2017 and on for 2018, you will see the types of items purchased by the City of Memphis and the amounts spent. There are huge amounts of pubic money being spent.

The tax paying public is entitled to know how this money is being spent, who is getting this business, how much higher the other bidders quoted and if the lowest bidder was not awarded the contract, why not.

The rules and regulations for being able to bid on this public business are very complex and discouraging for private businesses to jump though all the hoops. I know several local business who add 10% plus whenever bidding on public buxiness due tothe paperwork.

I asked Shelby County for similar information on purchasing and their reply was as follows.

In response to your inquiry, the County does not publish the information on our website. There is no intentional exclusion of the public’s right to see the information but rather there has never been a demand for the information.  Another problem we have is that we do not have a sophisticated system to process purchasing and contracts information.  We are in the process of obtaining a modern system that will facilitate providing the information in question.

 

Occasionally we will have a request for the information you are citing but it is usually from an unsuccessful bidder or sometimes from a company interested in bidding on a certain service or commodity.  Is there anything in particular that you would like to see?

 

To date I have not gotten any response from the MLGW concerning the question of purchasing transparency.

Now here is the problem with all local public purchasing.

A local news report stated the following. “Shelby County commissioners approved a moratorium Monday, April 2, on all county contracts and budget amendments worth more than $50,000 through the end of August.

The 10-3 commission vote follows concerns some commissioners expressed last week in committee sessions about a multi-year contract worth $20 million for medical services to county corrections center inmates.

The contract is specifically exempted from the county’s ordinance setting percentage goals in awarding county government contracts to minority-owned businesses.”

Now I have no objection to seeing minority-owned businesses getting a leg up in establishing an efficient and competitive private business. If they need a price differential for several years in order to get up and running so be it. But the public should know what it is costing the taxpayers and it is obvious we do not know the extent of this public cost. Let us put it out there so we know what it is costing. What is your opinion?

Non Profits In Memphis

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Non Profits In Memphis

 

July 25, 2017

 

Not many people know the extent of nonprofit organizations in Memphis and the surrounding area. A recent count put the number of local non profits at over 3000 with an annual expenditure of over $6 billion and total assets of over $12 billion.

A nonprofit organization is an organization that has been formed by a group of people in order “to pursue a common not-for-profit goal”, that is, to pursue a stated goal without the intention of distributing excess revenue to members or leaders. A nonprofit organization is often dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a particular point of view. In economic terms, a nonprofit organization uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission, rather than distributing its surplus income to the organization’s shareholders (or equivalents) as profit or dividends.  Nonprofit legal structure is one that will often have taxation implications, particularly where the nonprofit seeks income tax exemption or charitable status.

 

Donations for non profits comes from either public tax money, from private donations or from their nonprofits’ investment income. How can donors evaluate whether or not a charity will ultimately deliver on their promise or mission? In the nonprofit world, however, there is no common, easily understood measure of success. There are three types of data that might be used to measure a nonprofit’s success, input, output and results. Input can be measured by reading the 990 (Return of Organizations Exempt From Income Tax) form available through Guidestar or others. Output and results are more difficult to evaluate.

What I am looking for when looking at a local non profit is the mission statement, revenue and sources of revenue, expenses, net assets and fund balances and compensation of officers, directors, trustees, key employees, highest compensated employees and independent contractors. Also I want to know about family relationships amongst these people if any.

I have attached a partial list of non profits in the Memphis area. I have listed them from the highest in gross receipts to the lowest. (St. Jude would be second in gross receipts at $1.029 billion). Look over the list and let me know of others not listed about which you would like further information such as their 990 form. I can provide this to you or you can go to guidestar to get it yourself. Many of these organizations do a great job and provide needed services. There are no doubt some that are questionable. We need to expose the bad ones and support the good ones.

The Memphis Police Situation

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

I read Mayor Strickland’s weekly update (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#all/15a4e354e56b4a71) and it was a very thoughtful and informative article on the Memphis police staffing, recruitment and benefit situation. He blames the current shortage of uniformed officers on two things. One was the Memphis pension and OPEB (other post employment benefits, mainly retiree healthcare) unfunded liability. The unfunded liability was so massive that the State of Tennessee Comptroller threatened to take over the city unless it was addressed. This was in 2014. In order to meet this funding requirement retirement healthcare benefits had to be cut and more and more officers decided to retire or resign.

I have written in the past about this situation and it was the fault of past city of Memphis mayors and past city of Memphis City councils that ignored the 2007 GASB 45 regulation that required that pension and retiree health care expenses be recognized as they are earned rather than as they are paid. The Shelby County government did the right thing and the City of Memphis did not and hence the 2014 year of reckoning.

We all want and need good and effective policing as Memphis is earning a bad reputation for violent crime. I want Memphis to hire more qualified officers and apparently Mayor Strickland is moving in that direction. There is one more thing he can do which will help in the future and that is to stop the abuse evident in the City of Memphis pension board. This abuse is the number of LINE OF DUTY DISABILITY approved by this board. In the past I have compared the number of line of duty disability approvals from Memphis to the MLGW and Shelby County. The approval in Memphis is 10 times higher per active employees than Shelby County and the MLGW. Line of Duty disability approval gives the disabled employee a pension of 60% of his highest average salary tax free for life.

The City of Memphis in 2011 had 429 people on line of duty disability costing the City $11.8 million per year. In 2016 the figure is 510 people costing $14.7 million. Compare this with the MLGW employees. In 2008 they had 37 people in this status costing $523,000 per year. In 2015 they had 34 people in this status costing $485,000. Shelby County in 2015 had only 17 line of duty retirees. Compare that to 510 for the City of Memphis. Clearly there is a problem at the City of Memphis and it goes to the Memphis Pension Board and it’s makeup of members. The membership of this board and its rules need to be changed. The numbers of line of duty retirees at the City of Memphis when compared to the MLGW and the County clearly show a problem and the problem should be addressed. Qualified new officers should be paid whatever the market requires but obvious abuses of the system should be stopped.

Open Records At City Hall

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Open Records At City Hall

August 2, 2016

It seems that the Commercial Appeal has finally had a falling out with City Hall on the subject of open records and transparency. (Read the Ca article from last Saturday).

I have been an advocate of open records and full and complete access to all records for many years. I have filed numerous successful lawsuits to enforce my access. You only have to look at Washington DC to see what lengths politicians will go to hide their thoughts and actions.

Now I am not accusing Jim Strickland of doing this. I know Jim and he is a good person. I think he is on the right path financially to right the Memphis ship. Finances are improving as long as he stays on basics and away from expensive new dream projects.

Now as to what the changes he has put in place. Basically he wants to control the message and he does not want the public and particularly the media to contact his people directly. Now the Tennessee Open Records Law has a section that says the following.

(2)  (A) All state, county and municipal records shall, at all times during business hours, which for public hospitals shall be during the business hours of their administrative offices, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law.

(a)  (1)  (A) As used in this part and title 8, chapter 4, part 6, “public record or records” or “state record or records” means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.

I have seen the best and the worst of transparency in government. My opinion is that the City of Memphis under Jim Strickland has improved from past administrations. Most of the information that I want is online such as pension, OPEB and CAFR financial reports. The main area needed is access to electronic communications such as emails, text messages and other forms of social media communications. Concerning emails and text messages I would propose a new protocol for the future.

As seen with the recent Germantown emails controversy, here is what I propose to solve the high cost of paying lawyers to redact open records requests for a series of emails.

My ANSWER to this redaction problem is a new email protocol that should be adopted by all bodies subject to the Tennessee Open Records Law. This new protocol would apply to all new emails and text messages. Under this protocol the body of the email or text message would be public information. If needed there would be two types of attachments to the basic email text. #1 attachment would be any data that is open to the public. #2 attachment would be any information that is specifically mentioned in the Tennessee open records law as not public information such as addresses, social security information, restricted medical information and exempted legal communications. Then when a request for emails comes in from the public, the requested emails could be easily sent without any #2 attachments containing redactable information. This would do away with the high priced lawyers reading through a bunch of emails. The creators of the emails would have to be trained in the new electronic communications protocol. No personal messages would be allowed on public paid for email services. A public transparency board should be created in each Tennessee County to periodically review randomly selected emails and text messages to insure compliance with the new protocol.

Let’s face it. Generally politicians hate open records and transparency and they will use the expense gambit to restrict public access to their records. I would appreciate your thoughts on my proposal for a new public records creation protocol. It seems to me a low cost answer to the “I have to hire a lawyer to redact those email requests” from local politicians. Transparency and open records comes from the top. Lack of transparency comes from the same place.