Sunday, April 25, 2004

More Like This: Suburban Department

In all the hubbub about the City Council / Mayor Herenton fracases (fracia?), with the attendant administrational job changes, I let a story get by. It seems Jerry Crawford, who was nominated to be Memphis Fire Department Chief was turned down ostensibly because he wasn't a City resident. He shortly took the position of Collierville's Fire Chief.

Thanks to the Collierville Independent (When will you folks get yourselves on line? Thank you!), I learned the rest of the story. Andy Meeks writes:
Crawford said Memphis City Council members rejected
> his nomination for the Memphis post because of the
> widely-publicized rift between the council and Memphis
> Mayor Willie Herenton, who supported Crawford.
> Crawford said the council’s criticism of his residency
> in Fayette County was “unfounded.”
> “Anyone who was hired [by the city] prior to 1980 did
> not have to live inside the confines of Shelby
> County,” Crawford explained, because of a charter
> amendment passed in 1984. Crawford was hired by the
> Memphis Fire Department in 1977....

In 1977, Richard Arwood, Collierville’s Assistant Fire
> Chief, was a Memphis firefighter assigned to fire
> station no. 20 in south Memphis. Jerry Crawford,
> Collierville’s recently-appointed Fire Chief, was
> assigned to the nearby fire station no. 10.
> Two years later, Arwood, 53, was promoted to driver
> and also assigned to fire station 10 in Memphis,
> driving the same fire pumper Crawford rode on. At the
> time, Crawford was the “hook-up” man, responsible for
> connecting the fire pump to the hydrant. Arwood said
> the two men fought more than a few blazes together
> then.
> “Jerry and I go all the way back to the start of his
> fire career in Memphis,” said Arwood, who will leave
> his Collierville post later this month to become the
> new Memphis Director of Fire Services. “We’ve always
> kept in touch over the years, and Jerry even helped me
> out when I moved to Frayser in 1979. We’ve always had
> that kind of relationship.”
> In the 1970s, as now, both men found themselves
> working together by chance. And for the past month,
> Arwood and Crawford have again been working together,
> though this time in fire administration: Arwood has
> been Collierville’s Assistant Fire Chief since March
> 2001, and Crawford was appointed by Collierville’s
> Board of Mayor and Aldermen to replace retiring fire
> chief Dennis Rutledge in March of this year.
> But, as fate would have it, Arwood has been approved
> by the Memphis City Council for the same top Memphis
> fire job Crawford was nominated for in January. Arwood
> was recommended for the post by Memphis Mayor Willie
> Herenton.
> Crawford’s rejection for the post by the Memphis City
> Council, whose members seemed most at odds with
> Crawford’s residency in Fayette County, led to his
> acceptance of the Collierville fire chief position.
> Before Tuesday’s vote, Arwood said he didn’t
> anticipate the same problems that plagued Crawford’s
> nomination.
Yup, they switched jobs! I hadn't realised that.

I'm sorry I can't put more of Meek's writing here, as I'd like to. He writes pretty cleanly and to the facts. He sometimes uses "chop quotes" to compress things into one sentence (ie. 'Kerley called it a “privilege” to nominate Crawford.') but it's nice, invisible writing. Reporting, not journalism; letting facts and people speak for themselves and the story to grow from that. Nice work!

No comments: