Thursday, June 17, 2004

From Our Knoxville Bureau

Consolidation in Memphis is a dirty word. It sparks bitter feelings from the public and pooh-poohing from the government and their amen chorus in the local media. "Won't happen." "Won't save anything." "Isn't necessary."

Take a look at how consolidation is proceeding very differently in Knoxville.
The mistakes to be avoided list starts with laying a foundation for consolidation much farther in advance of a referendum than was the case the last time. Former County Commissioner Frank Leuthold, who served on the 1996 Charter Commission, is convinced that failure to plan for combining the various departments of city and county government well ahead of the vote contributed to its demise. “Government employees and their families vote, and there was a fear of the unknown that caused them to vote against it that could have been avoided,” he contends.

By most reckonings, consolidation won’t beget any layoffs to speak of in the short run, and longer-term efficiencies and economies of scale will only be reflected in the work force through attrition. This time around, much closer relations between the city and county mayors than existed in the 1990s will assure collaboration that can let people know where they stand.
The article also talks about how Louisville, Kentucky, dealt with strong racial feelings.

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