Saturday, September 21, 2002

High Livin' On The Public Dime

This week's Memphis Flyer has a John Branston report-itorial called "cadillac Plan." He rather lightly takes the City to task for spending $750,000 on a consulting contract for Riverfront development.

After first showing how the contract is rather far on the high end of such things, he then quotes from Barry Lendermon of the Riverfront Development Corporation to show that, well...maybe it's not. Branston's main point seems to be that the situation downtown is both good enough and variable enough that the contract appears to be a waste of money. Maybe.

It's weak-as-water complaining. Our city leaders are inordinately fond of boards, commissions, studies and groups. It shields them from anything unpleasant like unpopular decisions or hard choices while offering yet more public money to their friends and buddies and political cronies.

Why not have a central Department of Planning under the City Council, not the Mayor's Office? Their task is to create a large, generalized framework demarcating public areas, mapping out future street needs, labelling older buildings to save and repurpose, and zoning general intentions for various areas. Then stand back and let developers have at. Public monies shield developers from risk, yes, but private vigor and reaction speed will accomplish more, faster.

Until next time.

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