Before Alan Crone began his talk at last night’s Midtown Republican Club meeting, he had some things to say about us.
The former Chairman of the Shelby GOP and now a temporary City Council member, Crone said he had been president of this club in the 1980s.
“This is one of the more important clubs in Shelby County,” he said. “This is territory the state and county party writes off. But if you can narrow the gap in elections, you can have an exponential impact on the city. It’s organizing at the grass roots level. Nothing galvanizes more than organized people.”
Crone admitted that “it’s so hard to get people interested in politics. Imagine how they feel about a politician and a lawyer,” he said self deprecatingly. “But one thing being involved in both taught me is that there aren’t a lot of ideological differences among Memphians. We’re just not articulating it well. The economic interests of Orange Mound and Cordova are the same.”
He said that cities like Louisville; Jackson, Mississippi; and Birmingham have put some of their differences aside and moved forward. “Wherever it’s done it’s successful. Starting at the grass roots makes a difference.”
Having come directly from a City Council meeting, Crone started talking about their most current business, commenting that not much gets done before an election. He was referring to CLERB, the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board. It had come up for a vote, but in light of the recent death of Officer Sean Bolton, Police Director Toney Armstrong had suggested that this was not the best time to discuss citizen oversight of police.
Crone did not vote for the delay, nor did Harold Collins, Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert, Myron Lowery or Jim Strickland.
Crone questions what role CLERB will play – will it be investigating? He also said there would be only one category of people to subpoena: officers. He’d like to “de-politicize the subpoena part of the ordinance. If I’m an officer wrongly accused, I want a public forum for that,” he said.
The current atmosphere around the issue has two components, according to Crone. “There is a lack of training and accountability. Second, there’s a lack of confidence that whoever’s looking at it is an honest officer of the truth.”
“I’m hopeful that any part of this delay will mean a lot of progress will be made concerning the subpoena. Stay tuned.”
Tomorrow: The Convention Center proposal, taxes, the mayor’s race and what needs to be done.