Weekly Update

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If you’re like me, you’re sick and tired of the crime in our community. You’re sick and tired of seeing it every day on the news, reading about it the papers, and even worse, you’re sick and tired of it affecting the way you live your daily life.

But unfortunately, until something changes in our criminal justice system—we will keep seeing more of same.

If you’re reading this, you know I have written often about the “Revolving Door” that is our court system. To illustrate the impact (or lack thereof) it has on deterring crime, I asked our team to pull the numbers for 2022 and the numbers year-to-date of repeat offenders.

It’s incredibly frustrating to me (and I’m sure it is to you too), and it’s demoralizing to our police officers. They’re doing their job by arresting the bad guys, but the criminal justice system just lets them right back out time and time again. Below is a quick look at the numbers.


  • There was a total of 17,529 distinct arrestees during the year of 2022.
  • Of these 17,529 offenders, 8,885 had offended in the past.
  • Repeat offenders accounted for nearly 51% of arrestees in 2022.


  • There was a total of 6,809 distinct arrestees from January 1, 2023, through May 30, 2023.
  • Of these 6,809 offenders, 3,645 offended in the past.
  • Repeat offenders have accounted for nearly 54% of arrestees so far in 2023.

Nevertheless, the city will continue to pursue our comprehensive efforts to reduce crime by

  • working to improve early childhood literacy
  • providing more and improved programming for children and teens
  • recruiting good paying jobs
  • offering second chances for those Memphians who have struggled in life
  • connecting more people to the incredible opportunities available like free job training and high paying jobs
  • continuing to grow our police department
  • continuing to seek tougher state laws on gun regulations and sentences for violent criminals.

Opportunity abounds: For young people or anyone looking for work, we have multiple opportunities to receive job training and get a job. There is no economic reason or excuse for criminal activity—young people can get good paying jobs in Memphis even without a college degree.

As I mentioned to you last week, the city program Opportunity R3 (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Rebranding) offers a guided path for FREE to further education or prepare for workforce readiness for disconnected youth ages 16-24. Since March 2022, 120 young people have completed R3. We have another class beginning July 17th. To learn more or sign up, please go here.

Additionally, local construction jobs continue to see strong growth and the need for skilled workers as noted in this recent news article.

According to a local construction company, starting apprentices in plumbing make between $18-$20 per hour with almost no experience. From there, it goes up to $38-$40 per hour once they develop enough skills to move up from the apprentice position.

The Electrical Workers Union is paying $32 per hour for apprentices plus $5 pension benefit contribution and can expect at least 5% to 6% raises for the next two years. So, wages will be at $40 plus pension contribution in a few years. To learn more, go here.

All this to say, if someone wants a job and earn a good paycheck, with personal responsibility—there are ample opportunities for them to do so. See opportunitymemphis.com for more information on the free job training programs and thousands of good paying available jobs throughout our city.

The next chapter: Earlier this week, I announced that our Chief Human Resources Officer, Alex Smith, will be leaving the City of Memphis effective June 9, 2023, to continue her career in the private sector.

Alex has been with our administration from the beginning starting in January 2016. Through her leadership, HR at the City of Memphis has been transformed. When our administration began, hiring took us around 120 days. We have more than cut that time in half, as it takes us less than 50 days to complete the process today.

As a result of Alex’s leadership, we have reformed benefits and established wellness incentives for the first time. We solved a 50-year issue by creating a 457b matching program for Solid Waste social security employees. In addition, we created a private exchange to provide access to health insurance for pre-65 and post-65 retirees and implemented group health insurance and pension reform for police and fire.

I cannot thank Alex enough for her commitment to our team and the great work she completed during her tenure in Memphis City Government. We wish her well in her future endeavors.

To help with the continuity of Chief Smith's work, I am appointing Fonda Fouche as interim Chief HR Officer. Fonda has over 27 years of experience with the City of Memphis and a wealth of knowledge to help maintain the HR organization.

Again, we wish Alex well and welcome Fonda to her new role.

Memphis Brooks Museum: Yesterday, we broke ground on the long-awaited new home for the Memphis Brooks Museum right in the heart of downtown and right along the Mississippi River. This new museum will be a tourist magnet, a destination for school children to learn and be inspired, and a place for Memphians to come together in a beautiful art-filled civic space.


Over the next two years the entire city block will be transformed. But as with any transformative project, they don’t happen overnight. Much work, planning, and fundraising has happened to make this project a reality.

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From a city-standpoint, we donated the land, and worked with the State of Tennessee to amend our Downtown Tourist Development Zone to include river projects which allowed us to contribute $20 million of sales taxes generated downtown (the vast majority of which would have gone the State otherwise) towards this project. Crystal Bridges Museum draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Bentonville, Arkansas, and we plan on more visitors to Memphis as well.

I was happy to be able to participate in the groundbreaking, and we as a city are forever grateful to the Hyde family for being the driving force behind this project. Thanks to the to many generous donors, particularly the Hyde family, for without them and the help of private dollars this facility would not have been possible.

Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Melyne, for introducing me almost 30 years ago to the Brooks Museum and the importance of art to the vibrancy of a community.

Enjoy your weekend!


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