Friday, March 14, 2008

While It's On My Mind

Kenneth Whalum Jr. has been rumored to have his eye on running for the Mayor of Memphis. I don't think he does, he wouldn't win anyway. He is much to controversial and off the cuff to get the reserved vote of people like myself. He does have a knack for getting media coverage though. In order to be able to win a city wide election, you have to be able to do that.

I wouldn't vote for Kenneth Whalum Jr. for mayor, but I would support him for congressman of the 9th district. Compared to what we have now, it would be a refreshing change. I'm not impressed with what Steve Cohen has done since he has been in office. Look at one of my earlier posts: I don't usually agree with race being a factor, but I do here. I think a black would be best suited for that job. I don't agree with a lot of his politics, but he would bring the district back toward the middle. Just thought I would bring this up, while it was on my mind.


Blogger Kelvin Oliver said...

Oh geesh. What is this man trying to do now? I guess since it can't win over the schools, he is trying to trying to fun the city. I do agree with you that is too controversial. The last thing we need is a terrible mayor. We are in bad shape now, the city does not need to dig itself into a deepr hole. As they tell the youth to vote for president of the United States, I wonder if they enforce them to vote for the city Mayor.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Common said...


He hasn't announced that himself. That's just something rolling around in my head. I'm going to send him an email suggesting he give it a thought.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Kelvin Oliver said...

I guess I'm jumping the gun as they say. He should consider thinking about the idea and if he is fit for the job. Personality is always a factor.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Common said...

I think he has that part covered.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whalum Jr.: Let's hear Herenton's proposals
By Kristina Goetz (Contact)
Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mayor Willie Herenton hasn't publicly said whether he wants to be superintendent of Memphis City Schools again.

But at least one school board member thinks the city official's homegrown talent could trump the need for a nationwide search.

"If we have in our midst the most qualified, and logically, the best person for the position, it would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money to conduct a national search," said Kenneth T. Whalum Jr., a Memphis Board of Education member.

To that end, Whalum sent an e-mail Friday to board President Tomeka Hart, asking her to set up a public meeting with Herenton to "hear his proposals concerning his recent letter to us offering his help and how that relates to his announced retirement from the office of Mayor."

Herenton sent board members a letter roughly two months ago offering his assistance in the search for a new superintendent.

Hart said she hasn't had any discussions with Herenton about his interest in the position. She was traveling Friday afternoon and had not responded to Whalum's e-mail but said she was not authorized to do anything outside the search process unless the board approves it.

Other board members were adamant that the national search continue.

"I would hate for us to terminate the search," said board member Betty Mallott. "It would undermine the integrity of the process. ... We really want the most talented candidates we can attract.

"It certainly may be Mayor Herenton, but I would hate to think we would discourage any candidate from applying or discourage competition for that role."

Besides, Mallott said, she needs to know more about Herenton's record as superintendent from 1979 to 1991.

"I am initially disturbed that someone who wants to be superintendent would close five libraries and four community centers without having a community-wide discussion, because those institutions improve literacy and child safety."

In 1979, Herenton became the city's first black superintendent.

Then 38 years old, Herenton quickly moved to establish his authority at the district and implement bold changes in city schools. After only three months in office, he unveiled a management plan that called for a review of every administrative position. Later that same year he banned mandatory prayer and organized Bible study in assembly programs and classrooms.

In 1985, he stunned teachers by saying salaries should receive lower priority than classrooms and assembly programs.

During his 12 years as superintendent, Herenton often complained that city government never gave the school system enough funding. In one prepared statement he described city and county officials as "immovably bent on holding our children hostage as long as Willie Herenton remains as superintendent."

Herenton was known for starting or helping to bolster several influential initiatives. In 1989, he started a program that allowed inner-city schools more freedom in deciding how to teach poor students with special needs.

The Focused Instructional Program targeted students behind in basic skills. It allowed teachers to postpone instruction in history and science and instead focus on math and reading in early grades.

Herenton stayed virtually scandal-free until a teacher filed a $3 million lawsuit in 1989 alleging breach of a promise to marry, fraud and outrageous conduct. Mahnaz Barhmand, at the time an Iranian citizen who had lived in Memphis since 1986, alleged in the suit that Herenton initiated the affair by saying, "your future and career will be outstanding."

She alleged in the suit that Herenton broke off the relationship that involved two abortions and a miscarriage because "among other reasons, it would hurt his chances of becoming the mayor of Memphis."

The lawsuit was settled out of court and the terms were not disclosed. But it prompted the school board to hire a consulting firm to evaluate the district's personnel policies. That scrutiny led to policy changes.

Pressure for Herenton's ouster soon began to build, though supporters said he was a victim of racism.

Ultimately Herenton decided to retire, but not before the school board unanimously voted to give him a lump sum of $227,333 -- a year's salary of $104,312 plus benefits, accumulated sick pay and other compensation.

The deal also allowed Herenton to reach the 30 years of service required to receive full state retirement under age 60.

6:55 PM  

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