As a veteran member of the Memphis City Council, Kemp Conrad has come to realize how important challenges are often resolved in the land known for its bureaucratic red tape.
"It's been said that it takes a committee to do in a week what a good man can do in one day. I've also heard it said that you never see a statue built to a committee," he says.
In a week where police procedures, questionable city employee hirings and the public's wary perceptions of both have come under scrutiny, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has decided to appoint an as of yet untitled committee to work with shaping police policies.
"The policy of what kind of information we can release and when. We want to make sure we have the right policy there. If we have the right policy we'll stick with it. If not we'll change it. With respect to hiring standards, with respect to supervision, accountability," says Wharton.
Of course that's one good man's idea. The committee, in this case some bewildered Council members, who don't exactly share Wharton's desire to appoint another committee.
"My overall opinion is that there's another layer of bureaucracy that the Council will have to deal with. The administration will have to deal with. That the people of Memphis will have to deal with," says Councilman Harold Collins.
But, Committee One, as we'll designate the Council, has some ideas of their own about the issue of improving not just the hiring of police officers, but also rewarding employees who strive toward excellence at work. Conrad says it would put the city more in line with the initiative state government is already embracing.
"What Governor Haslam has done with making performance something that's measured in government not just tenure," says Collins. "We need to allow management more flexibility. We need to overhaul Civil Service. We're gonna make these recommendations. We're gonna hopefully move on it quickly."
Conrad says he's also going to asking next week for lists on the last 20 civil service hearings and the disciplinary actions taken over the last year, all in an effort to persuade Mayor Wharton to negotiate with the unions to allow problem employees to be more easily removed from employment with the city. That kind of talk will never get you a statue!
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