Weekly Update


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When we took office last year, we made it a priority to rebuild relationships with members of the Tennessee General Assembly and the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam. State laws and funding have a dramatic impact on cities like Memphis, and it’s a critical part of my job to communicate our needs and wishes directly to those who make the decisions.

The effort to build these relationships is working. Here are just four outcomes we lobbied hard for in the most recent session, which recessed last week:

Infrastructure will improve. The IMPROVE Act will fund long-needed improvements to our roads, including the first step in the Lamar Avenue project -- not to mention about $3.8 million more next year for city streets. Thank you, Gov. Haslam, for your leadership on this. And thank you to everyone in the Shelby County delegation who did the right thing and voted for it: Sens. Lee Harris, Brian Kelsey, Sara Kyle, Mark Norris and Reginald Tate; and Reps. Raumesh Akbari, Karen Camper, Jim Coley, Barbara Cooper, John DeBerry, Ron Lollar, Larry Miller, Antonio Parkinson, Dwayne Thompson, Joe Towns, Johnnie Turner and Mark White.

Expungement fees will be lower. The barrier for non-violent offenders to have their record cleared and gain an easier path in the workforce is now lower, as this bill reduces expungement fees to $180. It will allow our privately-funded Better Memphis Fund to do even more work for more people. Thank you, Rep. Akbari, for pushing for this critical reform, and thanks to Sen. Norris for sponsoring and leading the way in the Senate.

Sentences will be stiffer for gun crimes. If you’re a felon illegally carrying a gun, you can now expect a stiffer sentence for that crime. Thank you, Sen. Norris, for sponsoring this in the Senate.

Our Fire Department will be more efficient. Carrying forward the recommendations of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team, we led the way in the state to establish a community paramedicine program. This will help reduce the volume of unnecessary calls to Memphis Fire EMS and provide a better level of health care to many in our community. Thank you, Rep. Thompson and Sen. Norris, for enabling us to be innovative in how we approach this.

In summary, we’ve accomplished quite a bit in two years -- with much more work ahead of us, of course. But our administration works to build bridges and relationships regardless of home county or party, all because what matters at the Capitol in Nashville matters to us here in Memphis.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the members of our team who work so hard on these relationships: Alan Crone, Dedrick Brittenum and Dabney Ring. 

Rebuilding MPD: It’s worth a reminder that our largest police recruit class in seven years continues its training at the academy. And that class did not happen by accident.

Our staff has worked tirelessly on a multi-year plan to rebuild MPD to a size of 2,300 officers by 2020. We’re under 1,950 right now -- which is about 500 below our peak of late 2011, when we also had our lowest violent crime level of the past decade. The large recruit class was one of the first signs that our long-term plan is working; it is the result of heightened recruiting efforts you started seeing about a year ago.

It’s part of our wide-ranging crime plan, which we outlined in this space a few weeks back. And if you’re wondering how we arrived here in terms of our staffing shortage, we detailed that in February.

Stay in touch: I’m grateful for so much positive feedback you give me about the Weekly Update. If you know someone who would enjoy this regular connection to what we’re doing, forward this to them and ask them to sign up at memphistn.gov/mayormail. And, as always, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Encouraging growth in our core city: Population loss is our greatest challenge, so my administration is focused on making policy that supports the growth of our core city. One such policy is something I proposed when I ran for mayor and supported in front of the Economic Development Growth Engine board this week: residential PILOTs.

These incentives are similar to what’s fueled Downtown’s multi-family residential growth in recent years. I want the same growth to happen in other areas in our city.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that we haven’t seen an apartment complex built in Memphis since the 1970s without public incentives.

If we can grow and build density, it matters so much to so many of the other challenges we face -- crime, transit and service delivery. This incentive, which EDGE approved, will help us do just that.

Police week: It’s National Police Week, so I take this opportunity today to again thank our great men and women of Memphis Police for all they do to keep us safe. I was reminded of their bravery at today’s Law Enforcement Memorial program in front of City Hall, where we honored those who have fallen in the line of duty. Please take a moment this weekend to thank a MPD officer and reflect on what they put on the line so we can enjoy this great city.


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