Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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Today is the 50th day I have served as your mayor, a span of time in which we've already tackled some complex and taxing issues. But I was thrilled to spend time just yesterday learning more about the exciting plans for South City.

That’s the development on the south side of Downtown spurred on by the nearly $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant awarded last fall by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD officials were in Memphis Thursday on a site visit, and I pledged to them the unwavering support of my administration as these plans take shape.

In a five-year span, we will demolish and replace Foote Homes, the city’s final remaining traditional housing project. This transformation will be joined by other developments in a large part of Downtown, including the already-approved Central Station development.

Demolition of Foote Homes is scheduled to start later this year, and this important project remains on track.

A great Thursday night: In conjunction with District 4 City Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen, we hosted a town hall meeting Thursday at Mt. Pisgah C.M.E. Church in Orange Mound. At least 200 people brought their input and questions to my staff and Councilwoman Swearengen, and we did our best to address concerns. Here are a few photos from the night: 

Town Hall Meeting 1

Town Hall Meeting 2

Town Hall Meeting 3

Town Hall Meeting 4

This is part of a series of town hall meetings we plan to hold in each City Council district.

Mark your calendar, District 2: We'll join Councilman Frank Colvett from 6-8 p.m. March 31 at Bert Ferguson Community Center.

Updating the police director search: I have agreed in principle and am soon to sign a contract with the International Association of Chiefs of Police to serve as a search firm to help us identify the best possible candidate for police director. The nationwide search will cost between $30,000 and $40,000, and should be completed in the next four months or so.

Another dollar figure -- a potential police director salary -- has sparked media conversation in recent days, so I wanted to discuss it with you directly. First, I have not formally proposed a $250,000 salary for our new police director. I have only said that our surveys of the market, both formal and informal, have told us it could take as much as that to find the best possible candidate. Here’s a sampling of what some other cities have been paying their police directors, based on reports in recent years:

  • San Francisco, $307,000
  • Houston, $275,000
  • Chicago, $260,000
  • Oakland, $251,113
  • Seattle $250,000
  • Atlanta, $241,000
  • Detroit, $225,000
  • Baltimore, $212,000

Police director is the most important job in city government. I won’t allow our capacity to pay that man or woman’s salary to be a hindrance in finding the person who can best tackle our crime problem.

Memphis doesn’t deserve less than the best.

Celebrating Black History Month: If you’ve watched WREG-TV in the past few weeks, you may have seen the spot I filmed to celebrate Black History Month. I commemorated the late Vasco and Maxine Smith, two public servants I got to know just a little. I admired how they could be tenacious yet incredibly gracious and welcoming at the same time. I hope you’ll reflect on their memory or, perhaps if you’re of a younger generation, learn more about their contributions to our community.

Comparing to other cities on body cams: Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen and Interim Police Director Michael Rallings gave the City Council an update on our body camera rollout Tuesday, and it centered around how we compare to other cities. What we’re learning is that Memphis is among a select few cities that are ahead of the curve on this technology. And those other cities are encountering some of the same logistical issues that we face, too.

On my Facebook, I shared a chart of how we compare to other cities as it relates to a handful of areas in the rollout. You can find that here.

While we’re at it: Be sure to follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We are using those platforms to directly communicate with you on all sorts of issues.

ICYMI: And finally, in case you missed our special email earlier this week, please join me in welcoming Joann Massey as our new Director of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development.

We mean business about minority and women-owned businesses, and Joann is uniquely qualified to improve city government’s performance.


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