Who Am I?
My name is Pauline Lathram, and I have been a citizen of Germantown for about three years, although I have lived in nearby Memphis for most of my adult life. After my husband and I moved here, I began to realize how much I missed a suburban lifestyle. We are in walking distance to the Greenway, (a bike trail by the Wolf River) and biking distance to one of the largest urban parks in the city--Shelby Farms. I love to ride my bike.
I am now retired, but for a large part of my adult life I was the Finance Manager for the Memphis Arts Council (now called ArtsMemphis). It is an umbrella organizaton for non-profit arts groups. I became very familiar with standard accounting practices, audits, and compliance issues. Additionally, my education includes an MBA from Columbia University in New York. I am used to dealing with non-profit Board members and financial controls. I do feel that I have a certain level of expertise due to my background.
|Biking at Nashoba Park|
The cover photo for this blog is a picture of one of the fabulous bridges on the Greenway. It may be a placeholder until I can get some more Germantown photos. It was selected because of the "light" theme. This blog is all about light and mostly bringing sunshine to the dealings of the city government.
Anyone who would like to have notice for updates to this blog, or wants to contact me for some other reason, please use this email address:
Why am I writing this blog?
We were having a Facebook Discussion about a newspaper article concerning the city of Germantown on a Germantown group site. I thought it was an important issue, but most people avoided the discussion. One person suggested that there were good reasons for people not caring about the issue--they included things like-- they know the people involved and like them, they like the status quo because they do business with the city, they are too busy, and they would rather eat Snickers bars. I can relate to the last one although I prefer dark chocolate bars. This blog is for the people who prefer eating Snickers bars over commenting on governance issues in Germantown. They can eat Snickers while they look at the blog.
Mainly I intend on compiling information in the blog. Although it will discuss political subjects, it will not be a place to promote one candidate over another. Most discussions about elections are best served other places. I will moderate the discussion to keep it on topic for each page. We do not need our emergency response rate pointed out when we are discussing the pension plans of employees, for instance. All general comments about how wonderful Germantown is should be all together on this page. It is the first page of my blog and I wanted to show my devotion to the city because it truly is a wonderful place to live. If I open up discussion on other pages, the discussions should be only on the topic at hand. I will not allow "Who cares about this when our parks are so nice?" for instance. Our parks are wonderful by the way. I was actually pleasantly surpised by this when my husband and I moved here. Memphis cannot compare to Germantown in the parks department.
That gives me a good reason to tout this awesome city. A lot of the people here are newcomers to the area, and a good number of them have been recruited here by FedEx, as the FedEx headquarters is nearby. Housing prices are going up, as people are attracted by our low crime rate, our sense of community, friendly neighbors, great new neighborhood school system, as well as the parks, the Germantown Athletic Center, and the Germantown Performing Arts Center.
The Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen have been responsive to the will of the people.......IF the people make enough of a fuss. I was on an ad hoc citizen committee called "The Committee for Responsible Germantown Growth". A group of us met online and planned strategy together that would help defeat (or at least delay) an unneeded highway. To learn about the road realignment issue from our point of view you can look at the web page I created. Germantown Road Realignment In any case the powers that be listened to us. That made me realize that citizen involvement can really make a difference here, so I am wanting to inspire the Snickers crowd (I also am a member of the Snickers crowd).
I have no agenda and didn't vote in the last Germantown elections. I knew very few people here and did not have an informed view on things. It was a very contentious campaign and I stayed away. I am not in with the in crowd and I am not in with the out crowd. I am not part of a crowd at all though I did make some friends that fought against the realignment of Germantown Road. I am my own person and any judgments made here will be my own only, and not influenced by any other person or group of people. I am for honesty, transparency, open government, responsibility, accountability, competency and following the rule of law in governance issues. Above all, this blog is "of the Light."
For those using Smart Phones, here is a list of posts in this blog.
I LOVE Germantown, TN
A Little Background and Talking Trash
Charter, charter, What's in the Charter? And what is the City Administrator's Compensation?
A Car Plus a Car Allowance = a mistake and a payback
Protecting Germantown Employees Comes at a High Cost for Taxpayers
Thank You Jane Roberts, Vacation Buybacks and Other "Perks"
City of Germantown Eclipses Sunshine Law
Commercial Appeal Editorial Praises Records Requests
In the interest of full disclosure, I am Sarah Wilkerson Freeman and feel it is time to begin laying out why I have spent years studying Germantown government from the inside. I am a trained professional historian with an MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. My published work has brought me close to the inner workings of various southern state and local governments. I never imagined that I would be applying those skills to a current and on-going municipal government, but once I began to see the failures in the system, and how real people were hurt by unnecessary uses of power, I could not turn away. This has been an extremely hard endeavor. I feel great sympathy for the government employees and officials who have become caught up in situations that could have been rectified. All human beings are flawed. Period. And that is why citizens have the responsibility to examine their governments because, in the final analysis, it is people who run our governments.ReplyDelete
I see this corrosive dynamic as a simple historical force. It is why we have systems of checks and balances. In the case of Germantown, our systems of checks and balances, especially our systems of internal controls, have been deliberately broken and kept ineffectual. But that can be and must be changed. Sunshine is the cure. For that reason, I have used the TN Open Records laws to see behind the curtain and what I have found is pretty stunning. The good news is that this campaign for sunshine should bring about very positive changes and save the taxpayers of Germantown quite a lot of money. This is first and foremost a constructive effort.
The first thing that needs to happen is to show and discuss what has been going on. Then the remedies become clear. Over the next few weeks, various aspects of Germantown government practices will be examined. I have no interest in vendettas. While I have been targeted and demeaned for my activities, that treatment has only taught me that I have a thicker skin than I knew. This is about what public documents show. And these documents belong to the people.
The Commercial Appeal has begun to use the documents that my friend Jon Thompson and I have insisted that the City make available to the public. There is much more to the story that is beginning to emerge. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the people are not stupid and they can handle knowing the business of their City. Indeed, it is long overdue. The factions do not need to exist. The issues are not about who supports who or who likes who. The issue is about how best to run the City--honestly and fairly.
It is time to reinstate the requirements of the Charter. If the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approve the salaries and benefits of all employees as it requires, then the public should be able to know exactly what those figures are and what they are for. Who gets what and why. The Personnel Advisory Commission and Aldermen have been kept ignorant of the manipulation of salaries and benefits. If the BMA demands a clear and public explanation of all the City’s salaries and benefits, that would be a very good start.
Pauline, thank you for creating this opportunity.