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Editorial Results (free)

1. Rape Kit Backlog Lawsuit Shifts Questions -

Since August, Memphis City Council members have been reviewing the numbers. Asking questions about them. Verifying them. Categorizing them.

It is the other numbers discussion at City Hall these days – the one about how many rape kits city agencies took on sexual assault victims that the Memphis Police Department never processed over a period of approximately 30 years.

2. Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Rape Kit Backlog -

A Memphis woman sexually assaulted in 2001 filed a “Jane Doe” lawsuit in Memphis Federal Court Friday, Dec. 20, against the city of Memphis over the city’s backlog of unprocessed rape kits going back to the 1980s.

3. Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Rape Kit Backlog -

A Memphis woman sexually assaulted in 2001 filed a “Jane Doe” lawsuit in Memphis Federal Court Friday, Dec. 20, against the city of Memphis over the city’s backlog of unprocessed rape kits going back to the 1980s.

4. Crosstown Wins 20-Year Tax Break -

The $180 million project to revitalize the Sears Crosstown building won a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement Thursday, Oct. 10, from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp.

5. Armstrong Orders New School Board Election -

For a second time, results in the August 2012 elections have been successfully contested in court.

Shelby County Chancellor Kenny Armstrong, in a long-awaited ruling issued Monday, Aug. 19, ordered the Shelby County Election Commission to conduct a new election for countywide school board District 4.

6. Entry Point -

The city of Germantown is embarking on an effort to guide growth and development of the city’s western gateway corridor for the next 20 years.

The planning area encompasses the Poplar Avenue corridor at the city’s western gateway, paying special attention to proposed development opportunities, improvements to Poplar Avenue and Kirby and a new set of regulations designed to guide development.

7. Multiple Reasons Forced Trail to Lose Funding -

Bureaucratic snafus, a lack of city funds and the transformation of The Pyramid into a Bass Pro Shops store led the city to lose a $316,680 federal grant for a riverfront bike and pedestrian system.

8. Multiple Reasons Forced Trail to Lose Funding -

Bureaucratic snafus, a lack of city funds and the transformation of The Pyramid into a Bass Pro Shops store led the city to lose a $316,680 federal grant for a riverfront bike and pedestrian system.

9. Armstrong Hears Whalum-Woods Election Dispute -

On his way this week to hearing and later deciding the case of a disputed election for a countywide school board seat, Chancellor Kenny Armstrong got a feel for the complexities voters faced in the 2012 election and beyond.

10. Dispute Arises Over School Board Race -

The Shelby County Election Commission has identified 837 disputed votes in the Aug. 2 election for the District 4 countywide school board seat.

The information disclosed last week as part of a legal challenge of the results in the district race prompted a delay of a trial in the case before Chancellor Kenny Armstrong until some time after the Nov. 6 elections.

11. Whalum Challenges Election in Court -

Countywide school board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. filed suit against the Shelby County Election Commission Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the first of what are expected to be two election challenges.

Whalum is specifically contesting his loss to Kevin Woods in the District 4 countywide school board race on the Aug. 2 ballot. The 108-vote margin between Woods and Whalum was certified Monday by the election commission as it made official the results in all of the primary and general election races on the ballot.

12. Whalum Goes To Court Over August Election -

Countywide school board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. filed suit against the Shelby County Election Commission Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the first of what are expected to be two election challenges.

Whalum is specifically contesting his loss to Kevin Woods in the District 4 countywide school board race on the Aug. 2 ballot. The 108-vote margin between Woods and Whalum was certified Monday by the election commission as it made official the results in all of the primary and general election races on the ballot.

13. Former Council Member Ware Takes Diversion Plea -

Former Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware has taken diversion in the official misconduct case that led to her suspension from the council late last year and her resignation from the council effective Wednesday, June 22.

14. Ware Takes Diversion Deal -

Former Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware has taken diversion in the official misconduct case that led to her suspension from the council late last year and her resignation from the council effective Wednesday.

15. Ware Pleads Not Guilty to Misconduct Charge -

Suspended Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware pleaded not guilty to an official misconduct charge Tuesday during a brief court appearance before Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett.

16. Judge Denies Lee’s Motion to Dismiss -

Former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee is still at the center of legal wrangling over a six-figure settlement the city of Memphis paid him last year.

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin this week blocked an effort by Lee’s attorneys to dismiss a complaint the city filed against Lee to recover the more than $426,000 settlement.

17. Ruling Allows City To Switch Sides In Lee Suit -

The city of Memphis can switch sides in a lawsuit against the former head of the city-owned utility company in an attempt to recoup money the city paid this summer to that official, a judge decided Tuesday morning.

18. Herenton Reveals Target Letter From Feds -

About a week before Memphians went to the polls in the mayoral special election, former Mayor Willie Herenton got a letter from the U.S. Justice Department.

The so-called target letter officially acknowledges a months-long federal investigation into some of Herenton’s personal business deals while mayor, including his one-time ownership stake in the Downtown Greyhound bus station property.

19. Herenton Reveals "Target Letter" In Federal Probe -

About a week before Memphians went to the polls in the mayoral special election, former Mayor Willie Herenton got a letter from the U.S. Justice Department.

The so-called target letter officially acknowledges a months-long federal investigation into some of Herenton’s personal business deals while mayor, including his one-time ownership stake in the Downtown Greyhound bus station property.

20. Halbert Files Ethics Complaint Against Deputy City Atty. -

Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert has filed complaints with the state disciplinary board for lawyers against Deputy City Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis and a private attorney working for the city.

21. Jefferson in Limbo Until After Election -

Elbert Jefferson Jr. remains the city attorney – in name only.

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge James Lammey accepted a consent order Monday morning signed by Jefferson’s attorney, Thomas Hansom, and Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons’ office.

22. Inconsistencies Lurk in Jefferson Ouster Effort -

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Jr. is due in court Tuesday to face state prosecutors who filed a petition this week seeking his removal from office.

Shelby County District Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons’ office filed the action in Shelby County Criminal Court under a provision of state law that gives him the power to bring an ouster suit against certain public officials. The AG can seek their removal from office if they are found to have committed misconduct or neglected their duties.

23. UPDATE: Gibbons Files Ouster Petition Against Jefferson -

One of the final legal tasks Elbert Jefferson Jr. is likely to face as City Attorney is his response to a move by state prosecutors to oust him.

Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons' office has filed a petition in Criminal Court seeking Jefferson's removal, and a hearing has been set for Oct. 6. That development comes about two weeks after prosecutors in Gibbons' office issued four subpoenas to city officials asking for details of recent decisions by Jefferson.

24. Jefferson Ouster Has A Court Date -

One of the final legal tasks Elbert Jefferson Jr. is likely to face as City Attorney is his response to a move by state prosecutors to oust him.

Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons' office has filed a petition in Criminal Court seeking Jefferson's removal, and a hearing has been set for Oct. 6. That development comes about two weeks after prosecutors in Gibbons' office issued four subpoenas to city officials asking for details of recent decisions by Jefferson.

25. Today’s Council Activities Expected to Be ‘Ugly’ -

One of the final battles in a political war that’s engulfed the city’s legal division since August is likely to get under way today.

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Jr. told Memphis City Council Chairman Harold Collins late last week he plans to appear before the council today to defend some of his recent actions.

26. Gibbons Launches Investigation of City Attorney Jefferson -

Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons has opened an investigation into the controversy surrounding embattled City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Jr.

27. Update: City Attorney Out Rest Of Week - Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery’s scheduled meeting with City Attorney Elbert Jefferson will have to wait until next week at the earliest.

Jefferson and Lowery had been scheduled to meet Tuesday, but the embattled city attorney called in sick. He also called in sick Wednesday and indicated he would be out for the rest of this week.

Jefferson’s fate appears to be in question after last week’s revelation that he authorized a more than $55,000 payment to the lawyer of former Mayor Willie Herenton shortly before Herenton retired at the end of July. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Lowery declined to say what he planned to talk about with Jefferson.

Jefferson’s future is also likely to be a hot topic at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Councilman Bill Morrison appears set to introduce a resolution authorizing Lowery to immediately remove Jefferson from office. The draft language of the resolution cites Jefferson’s “approval of a rushed payment of city funds” to Herenton’s attorney “in a private matter” and Jefferson’s failure to notify Lowery and Lowery’s chief administrative officer, Jack Sammons.

The resolution reads, in part:

“Whereas, recent revelations that the current city attorney and chief ethics officer Elbert Jefferson is being investigated by federal authorities about his approval of a rushed payment of $55,000 of city funds to an attorney hired to represent Willie W. Herenton in a private matter; his failure to notify the mayor pro tem and CAO that he had been questioned by the FBI about such actions; and his failure to notify his superiors, Mayor Pro Tem and CAO, that records involving the aforementioned payment were recently subpoenaed by the grand jury, cause great concern about the city attorney’s abilities and judgment.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Memphis City Council urges Mayor Pro Tem Lowery to immediately remove Elbert Jefferson from the Office of City Attorney based on these questionable practices.”

In an interview with The Daily News Tuesday night, Herenton took issue with the description of the payment to Robert Spence as “rushed.”

The word "RUSH" is stamped on a check request Jefferson approved for Spence's payment. But Herenton said many of the contracts he left unsigned or requests unauthorized were rushed by various city division directors.

“In my 17 years, I bet you I've signed hundreds of rushed (requests). But in the newspaper it became 'Herenton's trying to get his legal fees paid,'” Herenton said.

Jefferson was the last of four city attorneys Herenton worked with in his more than 17 years as mayor. Herenton praised Jefferson’s work and said he has become a victim of “ruthless, reckless politics.”

“I have nothing but respect for Elbert,” Herenton said. “It is unfortunate that he finds himself caught up in the political arena, where Mayor Pro Tem Lowery is exercising some vindictiveness.”

Lowery told The Daily News Tuesday night that Jefferson’s recent questioning about the Spence payment by FBI agents backs up Lowery’s actions and comments.

Spence’s work involved representing the former mayor during an investigation whose subject appeared to wander over the past year.

It included Herenton's one-time option to buy the land where the Greyhound bus terminal now stands on Union Avenue. Some recent grand jury testimony focused on money paid to Herenton aide Pete Aviotti by business leaders for Herenton's annual Christmas party.

Spence told The Daily News earlier this week his client has not received a letter from prosecutors or any other type of notification that Herenton is the target of the investigation. Prosecutors sometimes make such a notification, but it is not required.

Jefferson, meanwhile, is not the only person who may be on the hot seat Tuesday before the City Council. Another resolution has been drafted that seeks to vacate Councilman Bill Boyd’s seat.

That resolution, sponsored by Councilman Joe Brown, reads:

“Whereas, it has been reported that council member William Boyd has attempted to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the authority of the mayor of Memphis and the city attorney to settle a lawsuit; and whereas the charter prohibits any council member interfering with the mayor’s administrative powers; and whereas the charter provides that any council member that interferes with the mayor’s administrative powers may be removed from office.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that the position held by William Boyd, councilman, District 2, be declared vacant for violating the city charter or, alternatively, that the city take such court action necessary to have him removed from office.”
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Boyd has filed a motion to intervene in a bitter court fight involving a legal settlement between the city and former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division chief Joseph Lee. In a motion to dismiss the complaint Boyd wants to be part of, Jefferson said the city was appropriately exercising its authority in settling the suit Lee filed.

Boyd disagrees and thinks the more than $426,000 paid to Lee should be recovered by the city.

“The plain language of the charter gives the mayor and city attorney exclusive power and authority to settle lawsuits if the city is a party to such suits,” Jefferson’s motion reads. “This power is not subject to approval of the Memphis City Council or the public.”

Without mentioning Boyd’s request to intervene in the case, Jefferson’s motion to dismiss also cites a section of the city charter that prohibits council members from interfering with the operation of the city’s administrative departments.

The charter goes on to stipulate that the office of any council member found to be in violation of that part of the charter could be vacated.

...

28. UPDATE: City Attorney Controversy Gets Uglier -

Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery’s scheduled meeting with City Attorney Elbert Jefferson will have to wait until next week at the earliest.

29. Herenton Talks About Legal Fees -

To former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, his successor's recent statements and actions surrounding the city's legal division amount to "ruthless, reckless politics with a vengeance."

It was Herenton's first public comment since the disclosure last week the city paid more than $55,000 in legal expenses for him shortly before he retired as mayor at the end of July.

30. Wilkins Off Beale Street Case -

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery has dismissed attorney Ricky E. Wilkins as the city’s attorney in a long-standing civil suit over the Beale Street Entertainment District.

31. Wilkins Out As City's Beale Street Attorney -

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery has dismissed attorney Ricky E. Wilkins as the city’s attorney in a long standing civil suit over the Beale Street Entertainment District.

32. Legal Fee Controversy Involves More Than Just Jefferson -

A political war is erupting in city government over the fees billed by outside attorneys and law firms that do contract work for the city.

Representatives of those firms during the past several days have been called in for private meetings with the administration of Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery.

33. Lowery Says Jefferson Ouster Up To City Council -

Memphis Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery said Saturday that it will be up to the City Council to resurrect the issue of firing City Attorney Elbert Jefferson.

34. Tempers Flare As Goldin Dissolves Order in Lee Case -

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has dissolved an order requiring the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and his attorneys not to spend money they got from a legal settlement with the city of Memphis.

35. UPDATE: Tempers Flare As Goldin Dissolves Order In Lee Case -

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has dissolved an order that would have required former MLGW president and CEO Joseph Lee and his attorneys not to spend money they got from a legal settlement with the city of Memphis.

36. Lee Fees Caught in Legal Loop -

With the predictability of a boomerang, Joseph Lee’s legal fee situation never seems to go away and keeps coming back to where it started.

At the Memphis City Council meeting Aug. 18, the body is scheduled to approve Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division’s payment of more than $426,000 to the city of Memphis. That amount from the city-owned utility company is to reimburse the city what it recently paid to settle a lawsuit the former MLGW president and CEO filed last year.

37. City to Lee: MLGW Should Pay -

The city of Memphis’ answer to a lawsuit filed against it in December by the former head of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is to the point: His beef is not with us, but MLGW.

City attorney Elbert Jefferson filed a response Friday to former MLGW president and CEO Joseph Lee’s Shelby County Chancery Court suit against the city.

38. Mayor’s Revelations Could Point To Vindication -

After he read a March 2007 story in The Commercial Appeal about his private relationship and real estate dealings with city contractor Elvin W. Moon, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton dashed off a memo to City Engineer Wain Gaskins.

39. Spence Defends Herenton in Federal Probe -

The attorney who represented former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee in a federal corruption investigation now is representing Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton in a separate federal probe.

40. Lee Files Suit Against Council Members, City -

When the Memphis City Council declined earlier this month to approve the payment of a six-figure legal bill incurred by former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee, some council members worried they’d soon have a lawsuit on their hands.

41. Lee Files Lawsuit Against Council - Former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee has filed a lawsuit in Shelby County Chancery Court today against all 13 members of the Memphis City Council. He is asking for more than $7 million in damages.

Lee is suing the council over the body’s decision this month not to pay $426,422 in legal fees Lee accrued as a result of a federal corruption investigation last year.

The probe looked into allegations surrounding why former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. was able to rack up some $16,000 in unpaid bills to MLGW without an interruption in utility services.

Prosecutors believed that leniency was the result of Ford’s support of Lee’s selection by the City Council in 2004 to head MLGW, among other things. Prosecutors abandoned the probe earlier this year, however, dismissing charges against Ford and Lee following Ford’s acquittal in a separate corruption trial. Following the dismissal, Lee promptly sought the payment of his attorney’s fees.

The council this month voted 7-6 against paying the fees, with some council members arguing Lee had not exercised good judgment with Ford and others arguing that an agreement was nevertheless still in force to pay the bills.

The damages Lee will seek in the new suit include the $426,422 in unpaid legal bills, as well as more than $6.7 million in additional damages, including compensatory damages and punitive damages.

The lawyer representing Lee is Jackson, Miss., attorney Halbert Dockins. Lee’s attorney for much of the past year has been former city of Memphis attorney Robert Spence.

But Spence told The Daily News that because his attorney’s fees are at the heart of Lee’s lawsuit, he thought it would be better if another lawyer represented Lee in this case.

“I didn’t want to be the issue, like I was trying to collect my own money,” Spence said.

The introductory statement of Lee’s lawsuit, meanwhile, brings up what likely will be an important point of the litigation.

“The city of Memphis and all of its divisions have a long-standing practice and policy of providing outside legal representation to employees, through counsel selected by the employee, when a claim is brought against an employee in his or her individual capacity and where the claim or alleged wrongful action stems or results from conduct arising out of the employee’s employment,” the lawsuit reads.

If the council members avail themselves of that legal representation, Lee’s attorney likely will argue that doing so puts the council members in the position of taking on a benefit they denied to Lee.

...

42. Lee Lawsuit Against Council Ready To Be Filed -

Former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee is set to file a lawsuit in Shelby County Chancery Court Tuesday against all 13 members of the Memphis City Council. He plans to ask for more than $7 million in damages.

43. Lee’s Decision to Sue Probably Inevitable -

Former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee decided late Wednesday afternoon, after talking with his lawyer for more than an hour, to file a lawsuit over $426,422 in legal fees he incurred last year.

44. Lee To Sue Over Legal Fees Denied By Council -

Less than 24 hours after the Memphis City Council voted 7-6 against paying the legal bills of former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division chief Joseph Lee, his attorney said Lee is headed to court.

45. UPDATE: Lee To Sue Over Denial Of Legal Fees -

Less than 24 hours after the Memphis City Council voted 7-6 against paying the legal bills of former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division chief Joseph Lee, his attorney said Lee is headed to court.

46. Lee To Announce Next Step In Legal Fees Flap - The Memphis City Council Tuesday affirmed its vote in Oct. to reject paying the legal fees of former Memphis Light Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

The bill for Lee’s legal defense in a grand jury probe that led to his indictment as well as a hearing before the council came to $426,422. The corruption charges were later dropped by federal prosecutors.

The 7-6 vote came at the end of a day in which MLGW president Jerry Collins told council members talks between the utility and Lee’s attorney, Robert Spence, failed to reach any terms for a lesser amount.

Spence told The Daily News an announcement on a decision by Lee about pursuing the legal fees in a lawsuit against the city could be made as early as today.

The council has also given final approval Tuesday to an ordinance regulating the location of financial services, payday loan and title loan businesses.

The council vote was unanimous on third and final reading. Third and final vote before the Shelby County Commission is scheduled for Dec. 8.

The council passed an amended version that emerged as a compromise during this week’s council session.

The ordinance bans the businesses from being with 1,000 feet of each other. The compromise worked out by council member Bill Morrison, with agreement from the payday loan industry, deals with a 90 day grace period for existing businesses to apply for a waiver.

Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware argued the location of the businesses isn’t the problem. It’s the high interest rates the companies charge – up to 264 percent annually.

“We need to deal with the root of the problem,” she said. “And if we could regulate how much (of an) interest rate is charged or how much the fees are, then we would be doing a service to the community,” Ware said. “I know we mean well here, but it’s supply and demand that is driving these businesses.”

But usery rates are regulated by the state and not the city council.

Morrison said the businesses cluster in his district which covers Frayser and Raleigh. Frayser is among the areas of the city hardest hit by home foreclosures.

Council member Harold Collins, whose district includes Hickory Hill – also hit hard by home foreclosures – said there is a connection. He counted at least 20 pay day lenders along one stretch of Winchester.

“Maybe they’re not contributing to the fact that many of the people in my district are losing their homes. But they are sure out there,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of line drawn that will keep the people in Hickory Hill from losing their homes.”

Steve Lockwood, head of the Frayser Community Development Corporation, said the close proximity of the lenders allows people in desperate financial straits to get around a limit of two loans totaling $500 from a particular lender by simply going to the payday lender next door.

He termed the location limits “an opening shot across the bow.” He said his organization’s financial counselors see a connection between the lenders and foreclosures.

“I think that the neighborhoods that are really going to benefit from this are in Cordova,” Lockwood said. “If you want Cordova to look like Winchester or Frayser, don’t pass this.”

In other action, a Fairgrounds development agreement is tentatively set to have the first of three Memphis City Council votes in two weeks.

The city picked Fair Ground LLC to develop a master plan for the property that includes the Mid-South Coliseum, The Liberty Bowl and The Children’s Museum of Memphis. What is still being worked out is a contract with the terms for drawing up that master plan.

There are still several formidable obstacles to putting a development agreement in writing.

Shelby County government owns some of the Fairgrounds land including some of the land under The Liberty Bowl.

City Housing & Community Development director Robert Lipscomb told City Council members he will again pursue an agreement in which the county would sell its share in The Fairgrounds as well as The Pyramid.

The Shelby County Commission rejected such a sell-off by the county during consideration of a development agreement for The Pyramid involving Bass Pro Shops.

The commission eventually approved the development agreement after the agreement won approval from the city council.

Without a sell-off, the Fairgrounds development agreement appears on its way to the same dual track debate and voting process.

Lipscomb also told The Daily News there are conflicting legal opinions on the amount of public infrastructure financing the city would have to put up to leverage private investment.

He said the amounts vary from $75 million to $200 million. The city is seeking legal opinions on the public amount required under terms of Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) financing. If the amount is $200 million or close to it, Lipscomb said it makes the Fairgrounds renovation much harder to accomplish.

Henry Turley, one of several developer partners in Fair Ground LLC, said he considers the city’s contribution to be $75 million. Turley was instrumental in drafting the state legislation that allowed for the Tourism Development Zones.

The TDZs allow for financing of bonds through sales tax revenue generated in the designated area or zone.

Turley wants to include a big box retail store on the site and possibly a hotel according to tentative plans that are fluid on the location of those and other parts of an overall plan. The sales tax revenue from the store would go to pay off the TDZ bonds. No local government general fund revenue would be used.

...

47. Council Again Rejects Lee Legal Fees -

The Memphis City Council this evening affirmed its vote in Oct. to reject paying the legal fees of former Memphis Light Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

The bill for Lee’s legal defense in a grand jury probe that led to his indictment as well as a hearing before the council came to $426,422. The corruption charges were later dropped by federal prosecutors.

The 7-6 vote came at the end of a day in which MLGW president Jerry Collins told council members talks between the utility and Lee’s attorney, Robert Spence, failed to reach any terms for a lesser amount.

Council members voting against the proposed settlement were: Bill Boyd, Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, Myron Lowery, Bill Morrison and Jim Strickland. Those voting for it were: Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert and Barbara Swearengen Ware.

Spence told The Daily News an announcement on a decision by Lee about pursuing the legal fees in a lawsuit against the city could be made as early as Tuesday.

The council has also given final approval this evening to an ordinance regulating the location of financial services, payday loan and title loan businesses.

The council vote was unanimous on third and final reading. Third and final vote before the Shelby County Commission is scheduled for Dec. 8.

The council passed an amended version that emerged as a compromise during today’s council session.

The ordinance bans the businesses from being with 1,000 feet of each other. The compromise worked out by council member Bill Morrison, with agreement from the payday loan industry, deals with a 90 day grace period for existing businesses to apply for a waiver.

Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware argued the location of the businesses isn’t the problem. It’s the high interest rates the companies charge – up to 264 percent annually.

“We need to deal with the root of the problem,” she said. “And if we could regulate how much (of an) interest rate is charged or how much the fees are, then we would be doing a service to the community,” Ware said. “I know we mean well here, but it’s supply and demand that is driving these businesses.”

But usery rates are regulated by the state and not the city council.

Morrison said the businesses cluster in his district which covers Frayser and Raleigh. Frayser is among the areas of the city hardest hit by home foreclosures.

Council member Harold Collins, whose district includes Hickory Hill – also hit hard by home foreclosures – said there is a connection. He counted at least 20 pay day lenders along one stretch of Winchester.

“Maybe they’re not contributing to the fact that many of the people in my district are losing their homes. But they are sure out there,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of line drawn that will keep the people in Hickory Hill from losing their homes.”

Steve Lockwood, head of the Frayser Community Development Corporation, said the close proximity of the lenders allows people in desperate financial straits to get around a limit of two loans totaling $500 from a particular lender by simply going to the payday lender next door.

He termed the location limits “an opening shot across the bow.” He said his organization’s financial counselors see a connection between the lenders and foreclosures.

“I think that the neighborhoods that are really going to benefit from this are in Cordova,” Lockwood said. “If you want Cordova to look like Winchester or Frayser, don’t pass this.”

In other action, a Fairgrounds development agreement is tentatively set to have the first of three Memphis City Council votes in two weeks.

The city picked Fair Ground LLC to develop a master plan for the property that includes the Mid-South Coliseum, The Liberty Bowl and The Children’s Museum of Memphis. What is still being worked out is a contract with the terms for drawing up that master plan.

There are still several formidable obstacles to putting a development agreement in writing.

Shelby County government owns some of the Fairgrounds land including some of the land under The Liberty Bowl.

City Housing & Community Development director Robert Lipscomb told City Council members he will again pursue an agreement in which the county would sell its share in The Fairgrounds as well as The Pyramid.

The Shelby County Commission rejected such a sell-off by the county during consideration of a development agreement for The Pyramid involving Bass Pro Shops.

The commission eventually approved the development agreement after the agreement won approval from the city council.

Without a sell-off, the Fairgrounds development agreement appears on its way to the same dual track debate and voting process.

Lipscomb also told The Daily News there are conflicting legal opinions on the amount of public infrastructure financing the city would have to put up to leverage private investment.

He said the amounts vary from $75 million to $200 million. The city is seeking legal opinions on the public amount required under terms of Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) financing. If the amount is $200 million or close to it, Lipscomb said it makes the Fairgrounds renovation much harder to accomplish.

Henry Turley, one of several developer partners in Fair Ground LLC, said he considers the city’s contribution to be $75 million. Turley was instrumental in drafting the state legislation that allowed for the Tourism Development Zones.

The TDZs allow for financing of bonds through sales tax revenue generated in the designated area or zone.

Turley wants to include a big box retail store on the site and possibly a hotel according to tentative plans that are fluid on the location of those and other parts of an overall plan. The sales tax revenue from the store would go to pay off the TDZ bonds. No local government general fund revenue would be used.

...

48. Lee’s Legal Bills Back on Council Agenda -

A resolution to pay the legal bills of former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division President and CEO Joseph Lee is back on the City Council agenda today.

The item was defeated on a 6-6 tie vote at the council’s Oct. 7 meeting and would have become official upon approval of the minutes of that meeting at the council’s Oct. 21 meeting. However, MLGW President Jerry Collins asked that council members pull the item off the minutes and send it back to the council’s MLGW Committee to attempt a compromise one more time, a request the council approved.

49. Council to Reconsider Paying Lee’s Legal Bills -

The Memphis City Council reopened the debate Tuesday night over whether to pay more than $426,000 in legal fees incurred by former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee starting in early 2007.

50. Council Could Revisit Lee’s Legal Bill Payment -

The Memphis City Council has a chance next week to reconsider its decision not to pay more than $426,000 in legal fees incurred by former Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee.

51. Lee’s Legal Fees Suit Could Surface Again -

It was one year ago this week that nine new members were elected to the Memphis City Council.

It was the largest turnover of seats on the 13-member body in its 40-year history.

This week, the council had its most serious difference of opinion to date over a controversy that began onthe watch of the previous council. And it was one of the previous council members that made the difference in the outcome.

52. MLGW Lets Lee off Legal Fee Hook -

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is poised to pay several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees incurred by its former president and CEO Joseph Lee over the past year.

Yet that decision to pick up the tab for Lee’s attorneys has evolved considerably over the course of a year, ever since Lee became the subject of a federal indictment in the early summer of 2007. Its evolution saw MLGW change, re-think or clarify its position on Lee’s legal fees at least four times.

53. Lee Stuck Paying Some Legal Fees -

Even though the board of Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division agreed last week to pay nearly half a million dollars in legal fees that former president and CEO Joseph Lee racked up while under a recent indictment, Lee still had to shell out a significant amount of his own money, for which he will not be reimbursed.

54. Lee Drops MLGW Suit, Begins Image Revamp -

Joseph Lee, the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, has dropped a breach of contract lawsuit he filed against the utility company last year.

Lee filed suit last summer against his former employer after he was indicted on federal bribery and extortion charges and after MLGW informed him he would no longer receive certain executive perks. One of those benefits involved the utility company picking up his legal fees.

55. Lee Seeks Legal Fees From MLGW -

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is being asked to pay several hundred thousand dollars for about 18 months of legal work centered around the now-aborted federal prosecution of Joseph Lee, the company’s former president and CEO.

56. Questions Remain Unanswered in Ford-Lee Case -

With a federal corruption case pending against him, Joseph Lee walked into the office of Kendall Investigations in Knoxville and met with former FBI special agent Kendall Shull. It was Oct. 16, 2007, and Lee – the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division – was there in an effort to clear his name. He had traveled to Knoxville to take a polygraph test at Shull’s office. Lee’s attorney, Robert Spence, said this week he had planned to somehow publicize the results of the polygraph – which Lee passed – to defend his client against federal bribery charges.

57. Feds Drop Charges Against Lee & Ford -

A little less than a year ago, attorney Robert Spence stood outside the Downtown federal building with his client, addressed a throng of television cameras and berated federal prosecutors.

It was July 2007, and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee had just been indicted along with former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. to criminal charges in a federal corruption probe. The government announced Tuesday it is dropping its case against both men.

58. Feds Drop Charges Against Lee & Ford -

A little less than a year ago, attorney Robert Spence stood outside the Downtown federal building with his client, addressed a throng of television cameras and berated federal prosecutors.

It was July 2007, and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president and CEO Joseph Lee had just been indicted along with former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. to criminal charges in a federal corruption probe. The government announced Tuesday it is dropping its case against both men.

59. Council Members Raise Questions About Riverfront Control -

The Memphis City Council has signaled it may begin taking a more hands-on approach than it once did concerning the quasi-governmental entity that manages a five-mile stretch of riverfront Downtown.

60. Cash or Gledich? -

The roughly four-month nationwide search for a new Memphis City Schools superintendent likely will come to an end today.

The city schools’ Board of Education is expected to meet today to decide whether Dr. Kriner Cash or Dr. Nicholas Gledich, both of Florida, will head the city school system and set a new course for a district that includes some 113,000 students.

61. ‘Not Guilty’ Eclipses Week of Ford Trial Highlights -

Outside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays Wednesday afternoon, reporters waiting for word of a verdict in the Edmund Ford federal corruption trial reflected on memorable phrases uttered during the court proceedings.

62. While Acquitted Wednesday, Ford Still Awaits Separate Pay-for-Favors Trial -

Former Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford wiped his eyes after a jury of seven women and five men acquitted him Wednesday afternoon on three counts of bribery and three counts of extortion.

The tears soon were replaced with vocal outbursts of joy. When reporters approached him for comment outside the courtroom after the verdict had been read, the former councilman threw his arms forward and boomed: “It’s over.” Speaking to reporters in the plaza area outside the federal building, the ex-councilman raised his arms in thanks.

63. Scholl Says Number of Trials 'Onerous' -

The federal corruption cases involving former City Council member Edmund Ford have taken an unusual path through three grand jury reviews in a year's time.

In that time, Ford picked up a second set of corruption charges and a codefendant, former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

64. Ford’s First Trial Set for May -

U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays Friday set a May 12 trial date for former City Council member Edmund Ford on corruption charges. But prosecutors and defense attorneys will try later to agree on a trial date for separate corruption charges involving Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

65. Ford’s First Trial Set for May -

U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays today set a May 12 trial date for former City Council member Edmund Ford on corruption charges. But prosecutors and defense attorneys will try later to agree on a trial date for separate corruption charges involving Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

66. Lee Case Twists and Turns -

Within the past few days, each side in the pending federal corruption case against former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee has considerably upped the ante.

First, prosecutors altered their trial strategy in a major way, returning to the grand jury to procure separate indictments Jan. 7 against Lee and his original co-defendant, former Memphis City Councilmember Edmund Ford. They did so to satisfy a federal judge's ruling last month asserting that bribery and corruption charges against both men had been improperly combined into one 11-count indictment.

67. Grand Jury Returns New Indictments Against Ford, Lee -

A federal grand jury has returned new indictments against former Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee. Both men are the subject of pending federal cases involving charges of bribery and public corruption.

68. Grand Jury Returns New Indictments Against Ford, Lee -

A grand jury has returned new indictments against former Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee. Both men are the subject of pending federal cases involving charges of bribery and public corruption.

69. Grand Jury Returns New Indictments Against Ford, Lee -

A grand jury has returned new indictments against former Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee. Both men are the subject of pending federal cases involving charges of bribery and public corruption.

70. Feds ‘Strenuously’ Disagree With Mays’s Ruling About Ford and Lee Trials -

Federal prosecutors plan to ask U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays to reconsider Wednesday’s ruling separating the corruption cases and trials of Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

71. Feds ‘Strenuously’ Disagree With Mays’s Ruling About Ford and Lee Trials -

Federal prosecutors plan to ask U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays to reconsider Wednesday’s ruling separating the corruption cases and trials of Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division president Joseph Lee.

72. Ford, Lee to be Tried Separately on Corruption Charges -

U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays ruled late Wednesday that City Council member Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas &Water Division president Joseph Lee will be tried separately on corruption charges.

73. Ford, Lee to be Tried Separately on Corruption Charges -

U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays ruled late today that City Council member Edmund Ford and former Memphis Light, Gas &Water Division president Joseph Lee will be tried separately on corruption charges.

74. Clear Channel Sues Property Owner to Keep Billboard -

Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. has filed suit in Shelby County Chancery Court against a property owner stuck with a dilapidated brick industrial building near Downtown Memphis that dates back to 1901.

Much of the value of the property - and the reason for the lawsuit - can be found on the building's roof. That's where a billboard towers high above the landscape and greets drivers on nearby Interstate 240.

75. Attorneys Seek Separate Trials for Lee and Ford -

The legal team representing former Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division head Joseph Lee in his federal bribery case has fired another salvo in defense of their client.

They want Lee and City Council member Edmund Ford to be tried separately.

76. Tangled Web Snags Ford and Lee, Both Indicted for Bribery and Other Offenses -

The newest corruption charges against Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford include not only a new codefendant, former Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW) President Joseph Lee. They also include a case that appears to be built in large part on Ford's public record as an elected official.

77. The Plot Thickens -

Shortly after losing the Democratic primary for a seat on the Shelby County Commission this past summer, Memphis businessman Joe Cooper left town to unwind and visit family members.

It had been a grueling campaign for the seat vacated by former Republican commissioner Bruce Thompson. Cooper, a former car salesman and well-known associate of the late Memphis billboard baron William B. Tanner, nevertheless decided to combine his family trip after the campaign with a little business.

78. Ward Named Judge of the Year by Bar Association -

The Criminal Law Section of the Memphis Bar Association recently presented Criminal Court Judge Mark Ward its judge of the year award. Ward presides over Division 9 of Shelby County's 30th Judicial District. Ward was appointed to the bench in 2004. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant public defender and in private practice. Ward's bachelor's degree in law enforcement and his law degree are both from the University of Memphis.

79. RACE Battle Heads for City Council Vote -

Until now, both sides in the debate over a proposed radioactive waste incinerator on Presidents Island have been mostly concerned with environmental issues.

The potential health risks of burning waste from hospitals, universities, nuclear power plants and other government facilities were the tie that first bound together several groups, including the Sierra Club, the Riverview Community Collaborative and Memphistruth.org, which is comprised of an assortment of civic and business leaders.

80. RACE Awaits City Decision on Permit -

In two weeks, the Memphis City Council will look at plans by a radioactive waste processing plant on Presidents Island to add an incinerator to its facility and to store materials elsewhere on the island. But company officials said the issue goes beyond gaining approval to expand the operation.

81. Archived Article: Lead - Waste Burning Issue Moves to City Council

Waste Burning Issue Moves to Council

RACE, citizens embroiled over radioactive waste incinerator

ANDY MEEK

The Daily News

A dispute over whether to allow a company on Presidents Island to burn...

82. Archived Article: Digest - Lincoln Apartments Financed

Harris Properties Finances Lincoln Apartments

For $2.4 Million

Harris Properties Inc. has financed 156 units in Lincoln Apartments for $2.4 million. The company purchased the apartments for $575,000 from Robert B...

83. Archived Article: Lead - By Andy Meek

City to Weigh in on Waste Burning Issue

Citizens protest RACEs move to incinerate radioactive waste

ANDY MEEK

The Daily News

For years, more than one company has stored and processed radioactive material on Presidents Isl...

84. Archived Article: Real Recap - Methodist Healthcare Buys Germantown Site From Seminary Methodist Buys Germantown Site From Seminary 2216 Germantown Road

Germantown, TN 38138

Cost: $16 million

Buyer: Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hospitals

Seller: Mid-America Baptist Th...

85. Archived Article: Newsmakers - (ephotos) Commercial property manager Dan Chancey and commercial property administrator Donna Palmer of Clark & Clark received

DAs Office Appoints New Prosecutors The Shelby County District Attorneys Office announced the appointments of three...

86. Archived Article: Calendar - Calendar of events Feb. 10-16

Calendar of events Feb. 10-16

Feb. 10

The Shelby County Republican Women's Club hosts Judge Phyllis Gardner at 11 a.m. at the Racquet Club, 5111 Sanderlin Ave. Edward Jones investment representative Steven Hefn...

87. Archived Article: Memos - Dr

Dr. E. Greer Richardson was elected 2002-2003 American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society president. Richardson is an orthopaedic surgeon at Campbell Clinic who sub-specializes in the care of the foot and ankle. He joined the Campbell Clinic s...

88. Archived Article: Law Briefs - Burch Porter & Johnson has a new management structure Burch Porter & Johnson has a new management structure. Joel Porter assumed the position of chairman. David J. Harris will serve as the firms financial manager. Susan M. Clark will serve a...

89. Archived Article: Standout (jones) - Dottie Jones For the people, by the people By MARY DANDO The Daily News As a native Memphian, Dottie Jones has a true pedigree. A member of the Snowden family, a graduate of Central High School and holding a MBA from the University of Memphis, she i...

90. Archived Article: Gov't (ccc) - Second lawsuit filed Second lawsuit filed over CBID assessments By KATHLEEN BURT The Daily News For the second time in as many years, the Center City Commission has been named as the defendant in a lawsuit over the assessment of special fees on comm...

91. Archived Article: Gov't (ccc) - A contract for the new president of the Center City Commission was approved and negotiations concerning the most recent past CCC president were discussed during the regular board meeting Friday CCC president will get $125,000 plus bonus By KATHLEEN ...

92. Archived Article: Memos - First Funds Family of Mutual Funds Robert M. Solmson and Spence L. Wilson have joined the board of directors of Morgan Keegan Inc. Solmson currently serves as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of RFS Hotel Investors Inc. Wilson is pr...

93. Archived Article: Law Focus St - By SUZANNE THOMPSON Stepping up to the bar New MBA president wants association to be more "lawyer friendly" By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Now that the changing of the guard is complete at the Memphis Bar Association, the new group of ...

94. Archived Article: Hi-tech Law Focus - By SUZANNE THOMPSON Technology in court Data Video offers lawyers high-tech equipment for evidentiary proceedings in litigation By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News As Hal Ferrell pushes the "play" button, an animated highway intersection ap...

95. Archived Article: Back1 - Final slate of Memphis Bar Final slate of Memphis Bar Association nominees set The slate of candidates for 1997 Memphis Bar Association officers and directors has been finalized. No nominations were received from the membership in the time allotted ...

96. Archived Article: Page 3 - Bar association nominees announced Bar association nominees announced Charles F. Newman, president of the Memphis Bar Association, has released the report of the Nominations and Elections Committee chaired by Blanchard E. Tual. The 1997 president wi...

97. Archived Article: Benchmark - Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson, individually and d/b/a The Memphis Horns vs Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson, individually and d/b/a The Memphis Horns vs. Al Green. Two local musicians are suing performer Al Green over the alleged infringement of the se...

98. Archived Article: Hall Of Honor Lj - lj 10/5 cates Pink Palace opens entrepreneur showcase By LAURIE JOHNSON The Daily News Starting this weekend, visitors to the Pink Palace Mansion will be able hear notable Memphis business leaders tell the secrets of their success "almost"...