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Editorial Results (free)

1. Council Critical of Wharton Debt Restructuring -

First reviews from Memphis City Council members Tuesday, Feb. 17, to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s plan to restructure the city’s debt payments were harsh and skeptical.

Wharton wasn’t present in council committee sessions Tuesday as council member Jim Strickland played audio of Wharton in 2010 telling council members that the restructuring of city debt then was a “plain vanilla” transaction.

2. Commission Delays Vote on Lakeland School Site Funding -

Shelby County commissioners delayed a vote Monday, Feb. 9, on a shift of county capital funds for the Lakeland Schools System to allow the school system to use it to buy land for the new Lakeland Prep grades 6-12 school being planned.

3. Commission Delays Vote on Lakeland School Site Funding -

Shelby County commissioners delayed a vote Monday, Feb. 9, on a shift of county capital funds for the Lakeland Schools System to allow the school system to use it to buy land for the new Lakeland Prep grades 6-12 school being planned.

4. Collins Files Campaign Finance Report -

Memphis City Council member Harold Collins, who is weighing a bid for Memphis mayor this year, has a campaign finance account with a balance of $23,034 as of mid-January.

5. Wharton Tops $200,000 in Campaign Funds -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. reported having more than $200,000 in his re-election campaign account as of Jan. 15.

Wharton reported the amount in a campaign financial disclosure report due at the Shelby County Election Commission this week.

6. Size of Mayoral Field Shadows Race -

Nobody running for election on the Oct. 8 ballot can even pull a qualifying petition to get on the ballot until April, yet February is shaping up as the month when it is determined what kind of challenge and how many challengers incumbent Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will face.

7. Harris Goes to Nashville -

At his last Memphis City Council session, Lee Harris reflected this week on his three years on the council and the group of politicians he joined.

8. City Council Delays Vote on Beale Tourism Authority -

At the first Memphis City Council meeting of 2015, council members delayed for two weeks a vote on a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority to guide future development of the entertainment district through a nine-member appointed board.

9. Council Signals Return to Schools Funding Mediation -

It’s back to mediation Thursday, Jan. 8, in the six-year long schools funding deadlock between the city of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.

That was the next step several Memphis City Council members pointed to after more than an hour behind closed doors at City Hall Tuesday with their attorney as well as city Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

10. Council Approves More Rape Kit Testing Funds -

Memphis City Council members approved on Tuesday, Dec. 16, $1.25 million more in city funding for rape kit testing. The money comes from higher-than-anticipated revenue collections on the city’s tax on mixed drinks.

11. Pickard Exploring City Council Run -

Architect and planner Charles “Chooch” Pickard is undertaking an exploratory campaign for Memphis City Council District 5.

Pickard holds his first event Thursday, Dec. 4, to gauge support.

12. Lowery Named 2015 City Council Chairman -

The longest-serving member of the Memphis City Council will be the 2015 chairman of the 13-member body.

Myron Lowery was elected by the council unanimously and without opposition Tuesday, Nov. 18. He succeeds Jim Strickland in the chairman’s position.

13. Haslam Reaches End of Campaign Trail in Memphis -

On his last campaign event on the last full day of the 2014 campaign season, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was surrounded by whimsy and cookies in a decidedly pink East Memphis shop.

Haslam supporters packed the Whimsy Cookie Company, a boutique cookie bakery on Poplar Avenue Monday, Nov. 3, just before the afternoon rush hour.

14. Council To Review Conflicting Health Insurance Numbers -

City government’s open enrollment period for health insurance begins in October and new details of health insurance benefit cuts approved in June go in the mail later this month. Yet Memphis City Council members meet in a special committee session next week to again review conflicting numbers from actuaries on the coverage.

15. AIA Tennessee Honors ANF’s Pounders -

Memphis architect Louis R. Pounders of ANF Architects has been awarded the William Strickland Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Institute of Architects Tennessee. ANF is formerly Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects.

16. Council Delays Vote on Overton Square Parking Trial -

Memphis City Council members again delayed a final vote Tuesday, July 15, on an ordinance that would set up a trial parking permit zone in the Overton Square area.

The three-week delay to the Aug. 5 council meeting came after homeowners and business owners appeared to still have some differences over the plan, which would allow homeowners to set up a permit parking zone on their streets for residents only.

17. City Council Hears Tentative Plans for Office Building -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration would move the Memphis Police Department, information technology services and six city agencies renting offices on Union Avenue Extended into the Donnelley J. Hill office building if the city goes through with a plan to swap the office building with state government in exchange for parking spaces in the Peabody Place garage.

18. City Council Approves Shady Grove Development -

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, May 20, a 22-lot residential planned development at the southeast corner of Shady Grove Road and Interstate 240 by Greenbrier Partners LLC.

19. Council Questions Five-Year Wharton Plan -

It’s usually a quick bottom line for any local government budget proposal – does it mean a property tax hike?

The $596 million operating budget submitted to the Memphis City Council Tuesday, April 15, by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. does not include a property tax hike.

20. City, Schools Agree To Mediation on Funding -

The city of Memphis and Shelby County Schools have agreed to an “official mediation process with a third party mediator” to resolve the $57 million claim and judgment the school system has against the city and the $89 million counterclaim the city is pursuing against the school system for capital funding.

21. Council Unhappy With Budget Plans So Far -

The administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. got a rough reception at the Tuesday, April 1, Memphis City Council session as it set the stage for Wharton’s budget proposal to come in two weeks.

22. Council Weighs Conflicting Liability Numbers, Approves Mall Plan -

Memphis City Council members cleared much of their committee calendar Tuesday, Feb. 4, to talk for four hours about specifics of the city’s pension fund liability crisis.

The discussion with Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard and consultants from four actuarial firms was aimed at trying to define the specifics of the problem, see if there is agreement on some of the numbers and better explain the differences.

23. Council Weighs Conflicting L:iability Numbers, Approves Mall Plan -

Memphis City Council members cleared much of their committee calendar Tuesday, Feb. 4, to talk for four hours about specifics of the city’s pension fund liability crisis.

The discussion with Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard and consultants from four actuarial firms was aimed at trying to define the specifics of the problem, see if there is agreement on some of the numbers and better explain the differences.

24. City Council to Dig Into Pension Liability -

The road to a specific solution to the city’s unsustainable pension liability and employee benefits begins Tuesday, March 4, in detailed, technical and complex financial discussions at City Hall that will dominate the committee schedule of the Memphis City Council.

25. Strickland: Shorten Pension Ramp-Up -

The Memphis City Council chairman thinks the city shouldn’t take five or six years to ramp up to an annual pension fund contribution of $100 million but instead do it in two fiscal years.

“I think everyone is in uniform support of fully funding our annual contribution,” council chairman Jim Strickland said on the WKNO-TV program “Behind the Headlines.” “In fact, I don’t think we ought to take six years. I think we ought to take two years. Get it fully funded, whether its $60 million or $100 million.”

26. Council Hires Actuary Consultant -

The Memphis City Council approved hiring its own actuary firm Tuesday, Feb. 18, to review the city’s financial state, namely city government’s unfunded pension liability. The council voted to hire Segal Consulting of Atlanta to advise it as the council prepared for a March 4 committee session in which it will meet with the administration’s actuary and others on the unsustainable trajectory the pension fund is on.

27. Council Tours Pyramid, Weighs City Offices In Two Malls -

Memphis City Council members heard Tuesday, Feb. 18, that the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. wants to move some city government offices into the Soulsville Town Center in South Memphis and is weighing whether to renovate or tear down and build anew on the site of the Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven.

28. Council Hears More on Police and Fire Budget Decisions -

Memphis City Council member got deeper Tuesday, Feb. 4, into the specifics of Memphis Police and Fire Department budget decisions.

But they didn’t get a clearer picture of what the direction forward will be as they and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. prepare to make some hard decisions about public safety in dealing with the city’s unfunded pension liability.

29. Debt and Liability -

There is rarely a good answer to the question “How much?” in politics.

With issues including the unfunded pension liability, overall debt, and revenue estimates and their validity, City Hall’s overall money problem begins but hardly ends with the question. It won’t be that simple.

30. Harris to Lead City Council Budget Committee -

Memphis City Council member Lee Harris will be chairman of the council’s budget committee for 2014.

31. Strickland Suggests Redbirds Ticket Surcharge -

Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland is floating the idea of a Memphis Redbirds ticket surcharge to guarantee a more consistent flow of revenues to pay off the debt from the city’s proposed purchase of AutoZone Park.

32. Council Rules Could Change in 2014 -

Memphis City Council members are already starting to adapt some items in a set of proposed changes in how they conduct business.

The proposal took a bit longer to formulate than originally anticipated.

33. Team Players -

The key players, from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. to St. Louis Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr., grabbed the microphone at an invitation-only rally held on the club level of AutoZone Park and made their best pitches.

34. Government to Require Seat Belts on Large Buses -

WASHINGTON (AP) – New tour buses and buses that provide service between cities must be equipped with seat belts starting in late 2016 under a federal rule issued Wednesday, a safety measure sought by accident investigators for nearly a half century.

35. Tax Dead Dilemma -

The brick church at 299 Chelsea Ave. in North Memphis shows up in records at the Shelby County Assessor’s office as “vacant land.”

36. New Council Chairman Could Have New Rules -

The new chairman of the Memphis City Council in 2014 could be overseeing the council under a different set of ground rules.

Jim Strickland was elected chairman by his fellow City Council members Tuesday, Nov. 5, to start his one-year term in January.

37. Strickland Presents Vision for Manchester Bidwell -

The Greater Memphis Chamber’s latest “A Conversation with …” event featured Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Manchester Bidwell Corp., a training facility for children and adults in Pittsburgh.

38. Events -

The Greater Memphis Chamber will host a conversation with Bill Strickland, CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp. and author of “Making the Impossible, Possible,” Wednesday, Aug. 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Peabody, 149 Union Ave. Strickland’s topic is “The Art of Leadership & The Business of Social Change.” Cost is $35 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Visit memphischamber.com or call 543-3571.

39. Events -

Playhouse on the Square will present a Great Wine Performances wine tasting and theater contest Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Playhouse, 66 S. Cooper St. Characters from “Les Miserables” will serve 10 French wines and tests attendees’ knowledge of the musical for prizes. Cost is $65 at the door. Visit playhouseonthesquare.org.

40. Events -

Playhouse on the Square will present a Great Wine Performances wine tasting and theater contest Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Playhouse, 66 S. Cooper St. Characters from “Les Miserables” will serve 10 French wines and tests attendees’ knowledge of the musical for prizes. Cost is $50 in advance or $65 at the door. Visit playhouseonthesquare.org.

41. Events -

Playhouse on the Square will host a performance of “Les Miserables” to benefit the Memphis Child Advocacy Center Saturday, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. at Playhouse, 66 S. Cooper St. A pre-performance reception and silent auction begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $60 and are available through MCAC, 888-4342.

42. Council Debates Restoring MATA Service -

A day before the board of the Memphis Area Transit Authority votes on significant cuts in bus and trolley service, the Memphis City Council will review $2.1 million in capital spending for the authority.

43. Bumper Crop -

Unless you see the signs, it is hard to tell when you have crossed the Tennessee-Mississippi state line where Fayette County, Tenn., meets Marshall County, Miss., not too far from the southern city limits of Collierville.

44. Eastward Bound -

Another Memphis park may be getting a name change just as the controversy over three Confederate-themed parks starts to move again at City Hall.

But unlike the controversy surrounding those parks, there doesn’t appear to be any disagreement about the changes for Columbus Park, a tiny patch of land at Adams Avenue and Third Street.

45. Property Tax Hike Highlights New City Budget -

Memphis City Council members raised the city property tax rate Tuesday, June 26, by 4 cents above the recertified tax rate and put the rest of a turbulent budget season to rest.

The approval of the $3.40 property tax rate and city operating and capital budgets came in a council session that ended at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

46. Beyond the Numbers -

It’s that time of year again when thick budget books dominate life for those in the Memphis and Shelby County governments.

But this year’s budget season on both sides of the Civic Center Plaza is more than line items and bottom lines on paper. The deliberations that ultimately determine how much you will pay in property taxes and at what rate go beyond the plans in the books of estimates, projections and the recurring and one-time revenue sources.

47. Questions Kick Off City Budget Hearings -

Memphis City Council members opened budget committee hearings Tuesday, April 23, on the clock and with lots of questions about what seemed to some like different budget numbers from last year at this time by the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

48. State Delays Auto Inspection Takeover -

The state of Tennessee has told the city of Memphis it will probably take two years for it to take over auto inspection duties in Shelby County.

But city funding for the auto inspection stations and employees runs out when the current fiscal year does, at the end of June.

49. Sales Tax Hike Headed to Ballot -

Memphis City Council members take final votes Tuesday, March 5, on a half-percent city sales tax hike referendum and the use of the estimated $47 million in revenue the tax hike will produce.

The council, which meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St., is expected to pass the referendum and send it to voters this year.

50. City Council Approves Fairgrounds TDZ Request -

Memphis City Council members approved Tuesday, Feb. 19, plans for a tourism development zone to capture sales tax revenue in a large area for a renovation of the Fairgrounds property at first.

The boundaries of the zone go to the state for approval and city Community and Housing Development division director Robert Lipscomb said such a proposal could be at the state building commission in Nashville in April.

51. Council Preps for Late Summer Sales Tax Hike Referendum -

A referendum on a half percent city sales tax hike to fund a city pre kindergarten expansion and roll back the city property tax rate by 20 cents would happen in August or September instead of May.

52. Ford Jr. Ready for Ascent to City Council Chairman -

If you didn’t know that Edmund Ford Jr. teaches mathematics, there would be clues.

He can almost sense a percentage that is wrong and he prefers not to “ballpark” numbers.

The precise numbers are part of the story of his entry into politics.

53. Council Approves City Tax Collections By Trustee -

The Shelby County Trustee’s office will collect property taxes for the city of Memphis under an interlocal agreement approved Tuesday, Dec. 18, by the Memphis City Council.

The agreement negotiated between Trustee David Lenoir and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. comes after several decades of attempts on both sides of the city-county governments divide at such an arrangement.

54. Ford to Lead City Council in 2013 -

Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Jr. will lead the council as chairman for 2013.

Ford was chosen by his council colleagues to be chairman for the coming year, and council member Jim Strickland was elected vice chairman.

55. City Council Considers Sales Tax Recall Options -

As voters in Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County were voting on a countywide sales tax increase Tuesday, Nov. 6, Memphis City Council members were pondering how to recall the sales tax hike should it pass.

56. City Leaders Look to New Governing Plan -

When 10 of the 13 Memphis City Council members get together around a table it is usually in their committee room on the fifth floor of City Hall for their regular meetings.

But last week they gathered in Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s seventh-floor conference room at his request.

57. Council Sends Sales Tax Hike To November Ballot -

Memphis City Council members added a half percent local option sales tax hike proposal to the Nov. 6 ballot in Memphis at their Tuesday, July 17, meeting.

The council approved the referendum ordinance on third and final reading.

58. Strickland and Conrad Pitch South Cordova DeAnnexation -

Memphis City Council members Jim Strickland and Kemp Conrad want the city to consider the deannexation of the South Cordova area taken in by the city of Memphis earlier this month.

59. Wharton: ‘Everything is Coming Together’ -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. had to make a decision Monday, July 2: Get up before dawn and catch a flight to Atlanta or stick with a scheduled and extensive bus tour for newspaper editors and others of the three core city neighborhoods he has targeted in a small-business innovation effort.

60. Herenton Wants Juvenile System Charter School -

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to open a charter school that draws its students from those youths in the custody or care of the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court.

Herenton talked about the still forming proposal for a charter school under the name W.E.B. DuBois Academy this week as he returned to City Hall. He sought City Council support for a Memphis City Schools collaboration with charter school operators offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. MCS leaders declined to participate last year.

61. Wharton Budget Plan Includes Alternatives To 47 Cent Tax Hike -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. took a $628.3 million city operating budget proposal Tuesday, April 17 to the Memphis City Council with a 47-cent property tax hike proposed to meet the city’s obligation to fund Memphis City Schools.

62. HopeWorks Fundraiser To Feature Poverty Expert -

HopeWorks, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Memphians break the cycle of crime and poverty, will feature Dr. Ruby Payne at its annual fundraiser, “An Evening of Hope,” Thursday, March 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Woodland Hills Event Center, 1000 Woodland Hills Drive, in Cordova.

63. Council Nixes One-Time Tax Hike -

Almost a year after they approved a one-time, 18-cent property tax hike, the Memphis City Council this week rejected levying the additional tax bill.

And even the council’s most disparate elements were together, at least for now, on what they feel was a lack of follow-up by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration on the fine print that came with last June’s decision.

64. Council Rejects 18 Cent Property Tax Hike -

Memphis City Council members voted Tuesday, March 20, to reject a one-time, 18-cent property tax hike to mop up an estimated $13 million in red ink for the current fiscal year.

Instead the council voted to use $10 million from the city’s reserve fund and cut $3.2 million in the existing budget including money for a voluntary buyout program of some sanitation workers that the Wharton administration has yet to activate.

65. Tax Hike Thorny Issue for Council -

To some at City Hall, the plan at the end of the 2011 budget season for city government is unfolding as it should. To others, nothing in the plan approved by the Memphis City Council has happened.

Still others aren’t sure whether a one-time, 18-cent city property tax hike is really one time or if it’s the second tax hike of its kind since last year.

66. Sides Firm on Annexation but Stand Down -

A year after the Memphis City Council and Republican state legislators from Shelby County had their first race to see who could pass their school consolidation measures first, there is hesitancy on both sides to stage a second political drag race on annexation.

67. Council Passes Amended City Bonus, Rejects Water Rate Hike -

Memphis City Council members approved a $750 flat bonus for all full time city employees Tuesday, Dec. 6, and a flat bonus of $200 for part time city employees.

Just as the Shelby County Commission did Monday for county employees, the council departed from the mayoral administration’s plan for a bonus as a percentage of pay.

68. Oden Celebrates 40 Years in 40 Days -

In 1971, when gas was 40 cents a gallon and a postage stamp sold for 8 cents, Dale Oden founded a one-man design shop in Memphis.

69. Wharton, Fullilove & Conrad Re-Elected -- Harris-Ford to Runoff - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. won a full four-year term of office as mayor Thursday, Oct. 6, two years after he claimed the mayor’s office in a special election.

And all 12 of the Memphis City Council members seeking re-election won new four year terms in the city election cycle, marking the largest return of incumbents to the 13-member council in the 43-year history of the mayor-council form of government.

70. City Council Delays MLGW Insurance Contract -

A fight for a $122 million health insurance contract that began last year continued last week as the Memphis City Council delayed approval of the contract between CIGNA and Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

71. Boyd Moves Into Temp. Council Seat -

It’s the week between the filing deadline for the Oct. 6 Memphis elections and the deadline for any candidates who made the first deadline to get out of the race by Thursday, July 28, at noon – the withdrawal deadline.

72. 4 Council Members - All 3 City Court Judges To Run Unopposed In Oct. Elections -

Four incumbent Memphis City Council members and all three incumbent City Court Judges were effectively re-elected at the Thursday, July 21, noon deadline for candidates to file their qualifying petitions for the Oct. 6 Memphis ballot.

73. City Council Still Debating Budget Decision -

In some ways, the city budget season isn’t over just yet.

Memphis City Council member Joe Brown moved Tuesday, July 5, to reverse an effective 4.6 percent pay cut for city employees through 12 unpaid furlough days.

74. Pieces of the Puzzle -

Memphis City Council members left the city property tax rate at $3.19 Tuesday, June 21, as they ended their budget season.

But they added 18 cents to the tax rate on a one time basis with a separate resolution.

75. Council Approves ‘Right-Sizing’ Budget, Tax Hike -

While the Memphis City Council left the city property tax rate at $3.19 as it ended the budget season Tuesday, June 21, it added 18 cents to the tax rate on a one-time basis with a separate resolution.

76. Council to Consider Sewer Fee, Postponing Layoffs -

A voting majority of Memphis City Council members seem to have reached an early agreement on lowering the city sewer fee.

At a 10 a.m. council committee session Tuesday, council members will discuss the proposed ordinance sponsored by eight of the 12 council members to cut the maximum monthly residential sanitary sewer fee from $50 to $25.

77. Events -

The Memphis Gavel Club will meet Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. Henry Brenner from Goodwill Industries will speak. For more information, call Bob Gray at 494-8639.

78. Strickland to Bring Message of Hope to Memphis -

Bill Strickland is widely admired for the many hats he wears; CEO, social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and visionary.

79. City, State Leaders Hammer Out Schools Consolidation Bill -

The Tennessee Legislature begins its working session Monday evening with schools consolidation legislation the first bill on the floor for the state House and the state Senate. And if the legislation passes it will be the first bill to go to the desk of the new governor, Bill Haslam.

80. Council Wants Mediation of MCS Funding Dispute -

Mediation is the latest direction in a complex school funding morass that is getting more complex by the day.

Memphis City Council members Tuesday voted to have their attorney file a motion in Chancery Court seeking non-binding mediation on how and how much the city should pay the Memphis City Schools (MCS) system in a two-year funding dispute.

81. Council Opposes Consolidation Resolution -

Memphis City Council members won’t be taking a stand for or against the consolidation charter on the Nov. 2 ballot.

A move by council member Janis Fullilove to add a resolution opposing the charter to Tuesday’s council agenda fell flat during the council’s executive session.

82. Dems Try to Tap Voter Anger Over Job Loss Overseas -

WASHINGTON (AP) – Businessman Randy Altschuler had barely won a Republican primary for Congress when New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop unleashed a television ad christening him an "outsourcing pioneer" who sent jobs overseas while millions of Americans struggle.

83. Union Police Station to Move to University Place -

The Union police station in Midtown would move to a new precinct house in the University Place development in the final phase of the HOPE VI project.

The Memphis City Council approved a resolution this week that supports the final phase, including a move of police operations for what was until recently the West Precinct.

84. District Map Makes Charter Commission’s Agenda -

The Metro Charter Commission takes up a district map for a proposed Metro Council at its Thursday meeting.

The 4 p.m. session at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St., is the next-to-last meeting of the group drafting a consolidation charter. The charter goes to voters on the Nov. 2 ballot.

85. Tuition Reimbursement Program Over Budget -

The city has 251 more employees than it has tuition reimbursement money for after the Memphis City Council rejected a plan by the Wharton administration Tuesday to cap tuition reimbursement for city employees at $1,400 per worker.

86. Bass Pro and Beyond -

"Adaptive reuse” is the term for what city leaders hope will happen at The Pyramid.

Throw in the Mid-South Fairgrounds and the Beale Street Landing projects, though, and “adaptive reuse” seems inadequate to define what is happening among the three concepts.

87. Different Mayor, Same Story in Budget Talks -

Memphis has had three mayors since the last budget season at City Hall, and the latest appears to have picked up where the other left off.

Several City Council members are questioning the budget priorities of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., just as they questioned those of former

88. Bills Could Help Slow Foreclosures -

Sitting lenders down with borrowers in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure is the goal of a pilot program that would be created by pending state legislation.

Lawmakers from Memphis are sponsoring companion bills in the state House and Senate that, among other things, would set up a foreclosure mediation program in Shelby County.

89. MED MCS Funding Swap Proposal Emerges -

Some Memphis City Council members are working with Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford on a deal in which county government would become the single source of local funding for the Memphis school system. In exchange for that the city would contribute some amount of funding to the Regional Medical Center.

90. UPDATE: MED MCS Funding Swap Proposal Surfaces -

Some Memphis City Council members are working with Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford on a deal in which county government would become the single source of local funding for the Memphis school system. In exchange for that the city would contribute some amount of funding to the Regional Medical Center.

91. School Funding Debate Marches On -

The city of Memphis is pursuing a last appeal in the Memphis school funding court case, and the City Council this week came up with a plan to provide $50 million in court-ordered funding to the school system.

92. Appeals Court Ruling Raises More School Funding Issues -

In the 19 months since the Memphis City Council voted to cut funding to the Memphis public school system, much has changed beyond the borders of the legal issue it raised and the lawsuit it prompted.

93. School Consolidation Nixed in Charter Talks -

Consolidating the Memphis and Shelby County public school systems is off the table as far as the Metro Charter Commission is concerned.

In its first vote on a charter issue since forming in October, the body voted unanimously last week to exclude the school systems from the charter or any charter discussions. The exclusion does not apply to the charter commission’s coming talks about how both school systems would be funded by one local government.

94. UPDATE: Council Weighs One-Time 31 Cent Tax Hike -

Memphis City Council members will weigh budget cuts in the middle of the current fiscal year as well as using at least $16 million of the city’s reserve funds to pay the Memphis school system $50 million.

95. Chaotic Council Welcomes Wharton To ‘Land of Fire’ -

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. got an early welcome to the ways of City Hall in the week before he took the oath of office.

It came from the City Council he will serve with for the next two years.

96. Morris Confirmed As City Atty. -

Memphis Mayor elect A C Wharton Jr. was put to the test by Memphis City Council members before he even takes office.

The council approved his indirect nomination of Herman Morris as the new city attorney.

And it approved his five indirect nominees to the Metro Charter Commission.

But there was a lot of discussion among council members this afternoon and evening about:

-Morris being paid $140,000 a year as city attorney, $15 thousand more than his predecessor, Elbert Jefferson.

-Whether Morris was the choice of outgoing Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery or Wharton. The answer was Wharton with Lowery making the appointment since he is still mayor.

In another rapid move, Wharton and Lowery teamed up to appoint the five city of Memphis representatives to the Metro Charter Commission. All five nominees were recommended by members of the City Council. Normally, the council votes on such groups of nominees to one body with a single vote on the slate. The council voted separately on all five.

The original five nominees were:

-Damon Griffin, an assistant District Attorney General.

-Carmen Sandoval, an administrative director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

-Steve Ross, a freelance video and technical director who also has a popular political blog.

-Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis city council member.

-Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church and candidate for Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk in past elections as well as in the 2010 elections.

Strickland was named just this week to Wharton’s transition team. But he is giving up the transition team spot to serve on the charter group. Council members Bill Boyd and Joe Brown voted against Strickland’s appointment saying they considered it to be a conflict of interest for an elected official to serve on the commission. Brown didn’t vote on the other nominations. Council member Wanda Halbert passed on Strickland.

Ross encountered vocal resistance during committee sessions from council members upset with critical comments he has made on his blog about council members. Council member Shea Flinn, who recommended Ross, came to his defense during an emotional committee discussion – clashing with Brown as Lowery and Wharton watched from the end of the council committee table.

“I’m a real man,” Brown told Flinn at the end of the exchange. “I’m a real black man. I hope you are a real white man.”

By the time the council voted, Wharton and Lowery decided to pull his nomination and instead nominated Richard Smith, a FedEx executive and son of FedEx founder Fred Smith. Council member Janis Fullilove was the only no vote. Halbert recused herself because she works at FedEx. Brown and Boyd did not vote.

...

97. Wharton Picks Morris for City Attorney Post -  

Memphis Mayor elect A C Wharton Jr. was put to the test by Memphis City Council members before he even takes office.

The council Tuesday approved his indirect nomination of Herman Morris as the new city attorney. And it approved his five indirect nominees to the Metro Charter Commission.

But there was a lot of discussion among council members this afternoon and evening about:

  • Morris being paid $140,000 a year as city attorney, $15 thousand more than his predecessor, Elbert Jefferson.
  • Whether Morris was the choice of outgoing Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery or Wharton. The answer was Wharton with Lowery making the appointment since he is still mayor.

In another rapid move, Wharton and Lowery teamed up to appoint the five city of Memphis representatives to the Metro Charter Commission. All five nominees were recommended by members of the City Council. Normally, the council votes on such groups of nominees to one body with a single vote on the slate. The council voted separately on all five.

The original five nominees were:

  • Damon Griffin, an assistant District Attorney General.
  • Carmen Sandoval, an administrative director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
  • Steve Ross, a freelance video and technical director who also has a popular political blog.
  • Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis city council member.
  • Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church and candidate for Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk in past elections as well as in the 2010 elections.

Strickland was named just this week to Wharton’s transition team. But he is giving up the transition team spot to serve on the charter group. Council members Bill Boyd and Joe Brown voted against Strickland’s appointment saying they considered it to be a conflict of interest for an elected official to serve on the commission. Brown didn’t vote on the other nominations. Council member Wanda Halbert passed on Strickland.

Ross encountered vocal resistance during committee sessions from council members upset with critical comments he has made on his blog about council members. Council member Shea Flinn, who recommended Ross, came to his defense during an emotional committee discussion – clashing with Brown as Lowery and Wharton watched from the end of the council committee table.

“I’m a real man,” Brown told Flinn at the end of the exchange. “I’m a real black man. I hope you are a real white man.”

By the time the council voted, Wharton and Lowery decided to pull his nomination and instead nominated Richard Smith, a FedEx executive and son of FedEx founder Fred Smith. Council member Janis Fullilove was the only no vote. Halbert recused herself because she works at FedEx. Brown and Boyd did not vote.

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98. City Mayoral Transition Yields Crowded To-Do List -  

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. will be appointing a new city attorney once he takes office next week.

Elbert Jefferson, the city attorney Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery tried to fire just minutes after taking the oath of office on July 31, Friday sent a second resignation letter to Lowery. The two met for an hour Sunday evening at City Hall and Lowery accepted Jefferson’s resignation.

Jefferson’s attorney, Ted Hansom, and city Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons were also present. Jefferson turned in his key card, the keys to his city car and his laptop.

“The drama is over,” Lowery said Monday. “For my part, I wish it had never happened.”

Dramatis personae

In a resignation letter last week to Wharton, Jefferson had expressed hope that he would be hired for some position in the new administration. Over the weekend, he used the same text in the new letter but addressed it to Lowery instead. He requested the city pay his legal fees as well.

The resignation letter to Lowery made moot an ouster suit filed by Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. Criminal Court Judge James Lammey, who was to hear the case, reset a final report to Oct. 27, citing Jefferson’s departure.

“A hearing on the issue of suspension would be an inefficient use of judicial resources, of the state of Tennessee and of the resources of the city of Memphis, and considering (Jefferson’s) current health status, would be an unnecessary tax on (Jefferson’s) well-being and a possible threat to his health,” Lammey wrote in the court order.

Jefferson was scheduled to return to City Hall from sick leave Monday. He apparently believed the new mayor would be in office by the time he returned.

An audit of city financial affairs is standard procedure in a change of administrations. Wharton is naming team members to review the offices of the city attorney, human resources and finance and administration. He was also to name members of his transition team Monday.

Time-, battle-tested

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter and Methodist Healthcare executive Cato Johnson will head the team.

The other members are:

- Herman Morris, attorney and 2007 candidate for Memphis Mayor.

- Tomeka Hart, Memphis Urban League CEO and Memphis school board member.

- Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis City Council member.

- Rev. Dwight Montgomery, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis chapter President.

- Jose Velasquez, Latino Memphis former executive director.

- Nisha Powers, Powers Hill Design Inc. President.

- Paul Morris, attorney and former chairman Center City Commission.

- Douglas Scarboro, The Leadership Academy vice president.

- Steve Reynolds, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. CEO.

- Diane Rudner, Plough Foundation chairman.

- Darrell Cobbins, Universal Commercial CEO.

Johnson has more experience serving on such task forces and ad hoc committees than any other leader in the city’s corporate community. Most recently, Johnson was one of two business leaders on the ad hoc committee exploring single-source local funding for education. He also served as a leader of the Mid-South Fairgrounds renovation committee and has been involved in similar capacities with every major construction project for a civic use in the past 15 years.

Carpenter’s appointment is certain to fuel speculation that he might be tapped for some role in the new administration. However, Carpenter has already been holding fundraisers in anticipation of a bid for re-election to his commission seat in the 2010 county elections.

Wharton is tentatively scheduled to take the oath of office Oct. 26.

The Shelby County Commission also meets that same day and could receive Wharton’s resignation and declare a vacancy in the county mayor’s office with a vote to appoint Wharton’s successor-to-come in November. Until that vote, County Commission Chairwoman Joyce Avery will serve as interim mayor.

“It will be a day in which I come to work at one place and leave work from another place,” Wharton told The Daily News.

But the Shelby County Election Commission will meet earlier than expected -- Thursday afternoon -- to certify the Oct. 15 election results. Once the results are certified, Wharton is free to resign as Shelby County mayor and take the oath as Memphis mayor.

Cooperative efforts

Meanwhile, Wharton has asked City Council Chairman Harold Collins to consider delaying a council vote today on the five appointees the city mayor is to make to a metro charter commission. The council set today’s vote with the intention of having whomever won the Oct. 15 special election appoint members of the panel.

“I won’t be there on the 20th. … I’m seeing if they are in a position to put it off until I’m actually over there,” Wharton told The Daily News, as he has had attorneys researching if a council vote in November would meet timelines for such an effort set out in state law.

“I believe that they may be able to meet on Nov. 3,” Wharton said.

Wharton has already named the 10 appointees to be made by the Shelby County mayor to the panel. The County Commission approved all 10 earlier this month.

While it appears he will make the other five, Wharton said he will ask the council, through Collins, to effectively pick the five nominees, whom Wharton would then send to the council as his appointees.

“I chose all 10 over here, which I had to do by law. If I could find some way around it that passed legal muster, then I would do that,” he said. “But we’ve researched it and I know of no way in which the city mayor can say … ‘I’m not going to do that.’ You can’t transfer it.”

Wharton and Lowery were to discuss the matter at a meeting Monday afternoon. Lowery told The Daily News he had received no suggested appointees from council members, but would be willing to submit names the council wants on the charter commission.

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99. Political Fault Lines Illuminated In City Attorney Feud -

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson never got the chance to make his case before the Memphis City Council this week. But he did get to keep his job as the council voted down 4-7 a resolution to oust him.

100. Metro Charter Update: Rockier Reception, But Far From Over -

The formation of a metro charter commission cleared the Shelby County Commission but ran into some turbulence on the Memphis City Council this week.

The discussions by both bodies have demonstrated the complexity of the most significant move toward local government consolidation in nearly 40 years. It also has shown the power other political events can exert on the issue.