Weekly Update

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Over the last few weeks the Shelby County Health Department has told us, and I’ve stressed as well, that the recent rate of increase of this virus is very concerning. Our social interactions like family gatherings are increasing. Masks are not being worn at these events, and those experiencing symptoms are not staying home.

People are beginning to let their guard down, and we cannot afford to let that happen.

In a Wall Street Journal article this week, former Governor Chris Christie talks about letting his guard down and his lack of a mask recently at a Rose Garden event at the White House. This article serves as a great reminder that there is no safe zone from the virus. We are all vulnerable to its attack at any time.

This lesson is particularly important as we get closer to the end of the year. Most of us enjoy spending time with family and friends especially around the holidays, and under normal circumstances, it’s a great thing to do. Unfortunately, we’re not living in normal circumstances, and doing those kinds of activities put us and those around us at risk.

As we move further into fall and winter months and the weather gets colder, family and friend events that we may have had outside will be moved indoors. As this happens, we cannot be too careful. Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing will be even more important.

I know it’s frustrating, and at times, may seem unnecessary, but please keep wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing. These things together work, and we will save lives by doing them.

Excellence in Finance: Earlier this month, Shirley Ford (the City’s Chief Financial Officer) was recognized by the Memphis Business Journal as one of the recipients of the 2020 CFO of the Year Award. This award could not have gone to a more deserving person, and we’re so lucky to have Shirley on our team.

In addition to that honor, we received notification this week that for the 43rd year-in-a-row the City of Memphis was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for our comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.

And, to top it all off, we received our S&P Global rating this week. We maintained AA with stable outlook in the middle of a pandemic. Not too bad!

Congratulations to Shirley and her team for always doing such great work.

Healthcare Hero: Over the last seven months, the Memphis and Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force has been led by the City’s Chief Operation Officer, Doug McGowen.

For his work with this group, Doug was honored this week with a Healthcare Hero award from the Memphis Business Journal. This has been no small task as this group consists of representation from all the surrounding municipalities, Shelby County Government, Shelby County Schools, independent school systems, municipal schools, and all the local hospitals.

All of this work, I would like to add, is in addition to his normal duties of helping to run the day-to-day operations of city government which is no small task.

Congratulations, Doug! Thanks for all your hard work every day for the citizens of Memphis.

Election preps: As you may be aware, concerns have voiced nationally and here locally regarding potential civil unrest and fraudulent voting practices during and after this year’s election.

I want to reassure everyone that the integrity of your vote will be maintained.

Nearly two weeks ago, we participated in a table top exercise with the TN Emergency Management Agency in which we worked through possible scenarios and the best ways to address them should the occasion arise. Members from both City and County Governments participated, and our actions over the next few weeks will be just as collaborative.

Overall, I am confident in our election commission and current processes we already have in place, but when it comes to one of the defining aspects of democracy—the right to vote—we cannot be too careful.

State of Memphis Housing: Last month, the Division of Housing & Community Development (HCD) announced the release of its 2020 State of Memphis Housing Report. The report was product of a collaborative effort between HCD, Innovate Memphis, Memphis-Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, and multiple partnering organizations. This report serves three primary purposes:

  1. To inform and stimulate local housing conversations among often siloed stakeholder groups (i.e. bankers and community leaders);
  2. To establish a credible source of facts and data related to housing/neighborhood conditions in the City of Memphis; and
  3. To democratize, popularize, and disseminate the housing expertise found within the city of Memphis HCD, as well as throughout the local housing field.

To continue this discussion, HCD will hold its 2nd Annual State of Memphis Housing Summit virtually next Thursday, October 29, 2020. If you’re interested in participating, you can see the full conference agenda and register for the free event here.

Enjoy your weekend, and be safe out there!


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