VOL. 129 | NO. 34 | Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Restaurateur Berger Announces County Commission Run
By Andy Meek
Memphis restaurateur Taylor Berger says a variety of outside factors inspired him to set up a group called Make Memphis, which held a kickoff meeting earlier this month Downtown to identify community projects that ought to be tackled.
Now, he's taking that interest one step farther, signaling his intent Tuesday afternoon to run for the District 5 seat on the Shelby County Commission. Berger said he’s pulling the petition to run at noon on Wednesday and is holding a petition-signing party Wednesday night at Cheffie’s in High Point Terrace.
Some of the same factors behind Berger’s creation of the Make Memphis group are inspiring his run, based on previous conversations with him. He cited then as now, for example, the failure of the universal pre-kindergarten ballot measure a few months ago, calling it “an incredibly sad day” in a document he prepared identifying his reasons for the commission run.
He says he also met with Phil Trenary, whom he identifies as having been hired by the Greater Memphis Chamber’s chairman’s circle to coordinate their five so-called “moon missions” for Memphis.
The “final straw” that Berger says led to his commission run is the Tennessee Legislature’s progress toward Senate Bill 2566, originally sponsored by State Sen. Brian Kelsey, that would seem to have provided a lawsuit-free basis for businesses denying service to customers based on sexual orientation. The bill was placed in the General Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon, effectively killing it.
“Combined with the County Commission’s failure to pass a local nondiscrimination ordinance, these instances of legislative bigotry riled me into action,” said Berger, an attorney and restaurateur who has helped launch concepts in Memphis such as YoLo and Chiwawa.
“As a business owner, lawyer and civic activist I have made it my job to unite people and solve problems,” Berger said. “I get things done. I’m ready to become part of the solution.”