Strickland’s State of the City

If you were one of the people excluded from Mayor Strickland’s State of the City address today, here it is for you to read:

Here’s what stood out to me. With his term half over (one and only probably) he says, “we’ve focused on a central mission: To improve the services we offer our citizens. To make life better for every Memphian, every single day.”

Wow! With crime rampant, schools failing (the SCS head Hopson wants to turn them all over to charter schools), roads bad and services slack, he has a lot of nerve to claim this. But, as Democrats always do, their strategy is to tout the very things they fail at doing.

Strickland says, “We don’t get involved in the partisan politics of the day, or the shouting matches that far too often define politics these days. You probably know by now that’s not my style.

“Our team shuts up, rolls up its sleeves and takes action.”

They take action, all right. Action like, in my view, illegally taking down public statues and selling the park for a paltry sum to a partisan political crony. No partisan politics? Really?

He goes on to say that unemployment is down. Not because of your actions, Mr. Mayor. Rather, it’s good policies from a Republican run state in an economic environment boosted dramatically by a president who knows what he’s doing.

Strickland boasts that street paving is up and the time for a 911 phone call has declined. That’s pretty sad as top achievements.

He notes the approaching 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death expects a lot of people to our city. That has nothing to do with his abilities, but is just a historical fact. Nothing he can take credit for.
“Population loss remains our No. 1 challenge, but we are losing far fewer every year than we did just a few years back,” he continued. Loss is still loss and until it turns around that remark seems ridiculous.
He touts “Major moments for Downtown and Midtown — USL Memphis, ServiceMaster, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Hickman Building rehab, Tennessee Brewery, Crosstown Concourse, among others.

“Major moments in Whitehaven with Elvis Presley Enterprises, and in Binghampton with the Binghampton Gateway Center.

“My job is to spread more of that throughout the city.”

Wasn’t most of that underway before he took office two years ago?

Strickland then looks to the future. He plans more paving, multi-family residential tax incentives (some more tax payer giveaways?), keeping our sewers in our city, embracing deannexation (because we can’t afford it), and fighting blight through code enforcement.

He acknowledges that crime is our No. 1 problem. He says “crime is our greatest challenge. Everywhere I go, in every corner of this city, I hear it.” His answer is to expand the police gang unit by eight officers.

Strickland said, “I’m particularly proud that last year, we added literacy training in our summer community center programming for the first time. This is a critical point, and here’s a critical stat: If a third-grader can read at the third grade level, they have a 90 percent chance of graduating high school — even if they grow up in poverty.”

How do we get there? Strickland believes in Universal Pre K. Where the money comes from for that and whether it really does help are not discussed, but it sounds nice, doesn’t it? What about K-12? Maybe some attention should be directed to the failures there in a system that spends hundreds of millions with little improvement.

The mayor believes “positively affecting our young people is the moral calling of our time in this city.” Is this the point of a city? I have a problem with the phrase “moral calling.” It’s a very subjective term, isn’t it and one Democrats appear obsessed about when it comes to directing other people.

He references the statue removal: “Last fall, we went to work building a coalition to support our application to the state. We built a diverse group of Memphians — black and white, Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal clergy, business leaders, and everyday Memphians — a show of unity I’ve never seen in Memphis. And there we were four weeks ago watching these monuments placed years ago to support segregation being removed — legally.”

Legally is under scrutiny. The people he refers to as Republican and conservative may not be what the rest of us call those people. It was done in secrecy and without any announcement. If the coalition was so strong, why did it happen that way? Why couldn’t it be put to a vote?

He closes: “We can accomplish the impossible. We’re Memphis!”

It’s a feel good speech that sounds very much like a Democrat. It also has little vision and few particulars. I’m not sure there’s much to get us through another year successfully. As the year progresses, expect him to laud himself many more times and pander to his constituencies.

Does that ever result in a great city?

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