Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update


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Since being sworn in as your mayor on New Year’s Day, I’ve dealt with problems public and private. I’ve tackled issues that grabbed headlines day after day, and I’ve taken action that hasn't produced a single word.

That’s OK. This job isn’t about which headlines we can grab -- it’s about the lives we can affect with policy and action.

So in that vein, I wanted to update you today on the very serious issues surrounding the Tulane and Warren apartments that are owned by the Global Ministries Foundation. The situation has been in the news quite a bit, but I’ll take you behind the scenes to share what we’ve been doing.

The city, through our code enforcement department, has been citing these properties for violations for a couple of years now. We’ve repeatedly taken the owner to Environmental Court to drive it to compliance.

Not long after I took office, I started working with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, seeking its help by contacting the secretary and his top lieutenants. Congressman Steve Cohen and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have been partners in this effort, as well. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and I have talked about how we’re handling these properties in our respective cities, and I’ve connected members of my administration with his to carry forward the work.

Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen and I have had multiple calls with senior HUD officials. In fact, we had a call just Wednesday with the deputy assistant secretary of HUD on the relocation progress and the future of these properties.

Yet we know that unacceptable living conditions still exist at these apartments. That's why we’ve been acting. We’ve worked with HUD for a while now to help relocate residents in a responsible manner that both eases their transition and provides safe, affordable housing.

It’s the right thing to do. And I’m proud of our work and the leadership of members of my administration in what has truly been a wide-ranging and constant partnership over these past five months.

Continuing to ramp up our communication: In keeping with my commitment to increase how much we communicate directly with you, we started a partnership Thursday with Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods.

We’re rolling it out across all city divisions. Nextdoor will allow us to communicate targeted messages to neighborhoods or broadcast items citywide. Our first post has been “thanked” by more than 750 existing Nextdoor members in Memphis.

You can sign up for Nextdoor here.

Welcome, Alexis: You probably know by now that we’ve named a new director at Memphis Animal Services. Alexis Pugh comes to us from Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services, and she will start next month.

If we are to truly strive to be “brilliant at the basics,” running an efficient, responsible and humane animal services operation must happen. We’ve made progress at MAS, and we’ll continue to under Alexis Pugh’s leadership.

Welcome, Alexis.

Volunteers wanted: Interested in adopting a city park? Want to learn more? Visit to learn more about our Adopt-A-Park program. We just had someone reach out today to volunteer to adopt a park because they read about it on Nextdoor!

Getting work done: If you’ve followed the city’s budget processes in recent years, you’ve heard the word ‘impasse’ quite a bit. It’s when the administration and labor units don’t reach an agreement during negotiations, and City Council committees have to choose between last, best offers on each side. It’s not ideal.

This year, we had 16 memorandums of understanding open. Seven went to impasse. One was decided by council committee. But I’m proud to say that this week, we settled the six others -- thus avoiding the committee.

The upshot? All 16 MOU negotiations are now finished, allowing us to move forward. (The one decided by council committee could appeal to the full council.) I give credit to HR Chief Alex Smith and her staff members, especially Chandell Carr and her team, Jill Madajczyk and Eric Sabatini, along with the AFSCME, Crafts, IAMAW, IUOE, and MPA teams for digging in and doing real work.

Help from the White House: This week, the White House announced an inter-agency support effort for 16 major cities to aid in their youth summer programming, and Memphis is one of those cities.

You can read more here, but know this: The additional support from President Obama’s administration means we’ll be able to offer better programming from our Office of Youth Services, headed up by Ike Griffith. Ike has already started working with our assigned ambassador from the federal government, and we hope this lays the groundwork for more robust -- and widespread -- youth programming in the years to come.

And finally: In the midst of another busy week dealing with tough issues at City Hall, I wasn’t about to miss a commitment I made to visit the Memphis Black Arts Alliance, an amazing group based in South Memphis. It was a wonderful event.

And look what Mosal Morszart gave me!


How cool is that? Thanks, Mosal. 


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