Lower Memphians’ Property Taxes
We have the highest property tax in the state. In a city, where we are trying to pull people back into the city center, this is unacceptable.
Call to Action
- As your councilman, I will call for a tax on parking garages, and EVERY dollar collected from this tax will go towards lowering your property taxes. Too many people drive on our streets and use our services without paying for them. This will change that.
The City of Memphis gives out a lot of contracts. When an outside business bids significantly lower than a local option can meet, we need to take advantage of the savings. However, when there’s little to no difference between estimates, we should reinvest our money back into our city by selecting a Memphis based business.
Call to Action
- I will call for a local preference when it comes to city contracts. Let’s keep our jobs and our money with our businesses.
City County Consolidation
I know we’ve had this fight before, but that was when schools were involved. Now that they aren’t, we have more reason than ever to end wasteful spending on dual government, which, many times, provides the same services twice.
Call to Action
- I will call for a vote to put consolidation back on the ballot in 2016. The last time this was attempted, it was estimated that this would save taxpayers $30 million dollars per year.
Crime and Protecting Our First Responders
In the aftermath of several nationally recognized incidents, our police force is constantly under attack. We need more officers, not less, and we need to make sure they are properly compensated for risking their lives for our safety. That being said, these incidents have caused a breakdown in trust between our first responders and the public, which is why I was the first person in Memphis to call for body cameras on all police officers. They protect the police, they protect the public, and they protect taxpayers’ dollars.
Call to Action
- I will do everything I can to encourage the city to hire more officers.
- I will call for undoing cuts to police and fire pension and health benefits. They put their lives on the line for us, and, because of this, they deserve a better deal than most of us receive.
- I will call for the proper implementation of body cameras so that they successfully achieve the goal of protecting everyone and rebuilding trust.
- I am already calling for a stronger Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board, which will allow more communication between police leadership and the public. This is another step in rebuilding that trust.
Better use of MPD Spending
MPD takes up 40% of the city budget. Because of this, we need to make sure those resources are properly used. Too often, our well and expensively-trained officers are sent out to check on fender benders, animal control calls, where animal control does not properly respond, and other calls that they are too qualified to deal with.
Call to Action
- I will call for the reinstatement of the police service technician (PST) program, and I will call to greatly expand it. These officers cost less to train, and the program is a great way to attract new talent and give them the experience they need.
- Decriminalize and deprioritize marijuana: Why are we sending our 1st responders out to arrest, jail, and prosecute people over a plant safer than alcohol, medically legal in over half of the country, and recreationally legal in four states and our nation’s capital? It costs money to do this, and we should cite and fine people instead of tarnishing their records over a substance less deadly than nutmeg. Let’s raise revenue, not lose it.
While the City of Memphis no longer has a school system, city government can still help keep our streets and students safe.
Call to Action
- I will call for all schools, which currently do not have proper walkways and traffic signs, to install them. Grahamwood, on Summer, is an example of where this needs to be done.
- Proper placement of signs is important too. Right outside of Newberry Elementary, there is an “end school zone” speed reduction sign. This should be moved further since it is encouraging people to speed back up right as they pass the school.
- Another example is the corner of Greer and Carnes, where we need a 4-way stop to protect our residents.
- I will call for speed bumps in front of schools, where they do not currently exist.
- I will call for more crossing guards, and I will call for the additional crossing guards to come from our expanded PST program. An active voter also suggested possibly allowing ROTC college students to participate in this program in order to gain experience. So-called “mob attacks” have made residents scared to even go to their own neighborhood grocery store. A bigger community presence outside of our schools would be a good way to monitor this issue.
- I will advocate for more speed bumps in the University of Memphis area, where speeding and irresponsible driving are a concern, along with drivers and pedestrians who may have had too much to drink.
One great thing about living in Tennessee is that we have some of the best animal protection laws on the books! We have great spay and neuter legislation, a companion animal care law, a ban on the roadside sale of animals, and a law that prevents ex-felons from owning intact (non-neutered) animals. That being said, Memphis Animal Services recently went through a horrific period of unforgivable animal torture and abuse. While some measures were taken to remedy the problem, they have not gone far enough to address what needs to be done.
Call to Action
- We need cameras in the euthanasia room. Transparency is needed in all levels of government, and this would discourage future improper behavior.
- We need to fold our animal control officers into the MPD, and to be responsible for the same response rate as police officers. This could be done with no additional costs to the taxpayer. Our women and men in uniform should not be dealing with animal issues. By making our animal control officers more responsive, we put them at the front of the issues they were hired to deal with, not our 1st responders.
- We need people on the Memphis Animal Services Advisory Board, who will stand up for and protect our City’s pets and strays. Everything possible should be done to ensure that as many animals are released into good homes as possible. In order to achieve this, Memphis should conduct more off-site adoption events, and animals should be vaccinated upon intake to avoid issues such as parvo outbreaks that have caused the shelter to shut down in the past.
- We need a public website where the MAS director can respond to recommendations from the MAS board where citizens can understand what is happening.
- We need Memphis Animal Services to exercise compassion for animals, so we can be proud of a shelter, not what has become a control unit.
Memphis Beautiful: Attract new residents and tourists
Perception: My grandfather moved here in 1970 with my grandmother, my father, and my uncle. He likes to reminisce about how beautiful Memphis was then. Unfortunately, flight from the center city left blight in its path, but our city is on the rebound. Perception is reality. If we want this core of the city to rise, we have to take several steps to change our city’s infrastructure and appearance. The following are some ideas to implement this change:
- Currently, code enforcement is tasked with tearing down 1,500 abandoned houses each year, yet they are only tearing down 800. Abandoned houses and blight lower the property values of all of the properties around them and they attract nuisances that make our neighborhoods less safe. As your councilman, I will constantly stay on code enforcement to make sure they are meeting their yearly goals. I will work with the district attorney to identify areas that are particularly problematic with respect to illegal activity and make them a priority.
- Memphis has plenty of ordinances on the books to make and keep our city beautiful. Unfortunately, enforcement of these ordinances, which are supposed to make sure people keep their yards cut and their houses in order, have not been properly enforced. We should see this as not only an opportunity to improve the appearance and property values of our city, but also as a way to generate revenue. I will propose an ordinance, which will pay retired police officers and firefighters, among others, a stipend to check on a designated area on a biweekly basis. The first time a violation is noticed, the resident will receive a notice, and she or he will be given a chance to rectify the problem. If the issue is not resolved in a timely manner, then the resident will receive a fine which, when paid, will go to fund more code enforcement efforts.
Activating the TN Clean Neighborhoods Act
- This state legislation, which only applies to certain large cities in TN, can be enacted by our city council on a first reading. If activated, it would allow the city to shift money away from contractors to community and neighborhood organizations, when it comes to mowing the grass and removing trash from blighted properties. These organizations have a vested interest in cleaning up their neighborhoods (not just a profit motive) and the potential to empower their communities by doing so.
Congestion and Parking
- As Memphis expands, parking and congestion will become an increasingly frustrating issue unless we address it now. Our neighbors near Overton Square and Cooper Young have experienced this first hand. As your city councilman, I would facilitate parking by insisting that new developments accurately account for occupant and visitor parking on-site, so we do not use neighborhood streets as de facto parking lots.
- In a sprawling city like Memphis, we should encourage, not discourage, alternative methods of transportation such as bikes to cut down on traffic congestion and encourage healthy modes of travel. Where it is not too costly, I would like to see safe lanes throughout the city connecting parks, roads, and destinations. When implemented correctly, bike lanes have the ability to create more parking spaces, protect bicycle commuters, and encourage alternative transportation.
- Memphis’ Overton Park is a resource that many residents and tourists enjoy. I’m also proud to say that Memphis has one of the best zoos in the country. Unfortunately, the zoo’s popularity outstripped its parking, forcing some to park on Overton Park’s historic Greensward. Overton Park is a space for people and nature, so it should not be used for parking. As your councilman, I will encourage the zoo to re-stripe its parking spaces for efficiency and the building of a parking garage that would not disrupt the Greensward or Old Forest.
Removing Homeless Shelter Nightly Fee
- Memphis is the only city that I am aware of without a no-charge shelter for the homeless. I want to remove fees for shelters, which will in turn discourage pan handling. I also want to explore using unused city buildings as potential shelters to the extent that it is needed.
- The Bridge: the Memphis Street Paper is a wonderful organization that discourages panhandling by encouraging homeless people to sell newspapers, which are produced with Rhodes students, for income as opposed to asking for charity. I am proud to serve on its board, and I hope that we can discourage panhandling by empowering our homeless population through the Bridge and other nonprofits by proving them with the means to obtain income on their own without resorting to panhandling.
- We pay taxes to receive a societal benefit. With as high as our property taxes are, the disrepair of our roads is simply unacceptable. As your city councilman, I would fight to repair potholes on major and neighborhood roads, and I would also push for more speed bumps where citizens are concerned about speeding on neighborhood roads.
- While some buses move on major routes/loops, we could set up mini-hubs to support smaller routes, which would make our public transportation system more accessible. If done properly, it would make it possible for us to allow the county school system to drop its bus contracts and give MATA the ability to run the school routes at ⅓ of the current cost or less.
- Memphis weather is unpredictable, yet many bus stops do not have protection from the weather. I would work to remedy that by placing rain shelters along busy stops.
- Pushing MATA later weekend route times could discourage dangerous and reckless driving late at night, especially as other transportation policies emerge making buses more accessed and preferred.
- As your city councilman, I will work to increase and continue MATA ridership however possible. Bus riders are doing our city and our environment a service by promoting and supporting public transportation.