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Editorial Results (free)

1. County Commission Approves Crosstown Funding -

Shelby County Commissioners approved Monday, March 10, $5 million in county funding for public infrastructure on the $180 million Crosstown redevelopment project.

The 11-1 vote came after it appeared twice that commissioners, including those supporting the funding, were ready to delay the decision for two weeks.

2. Annexation Reserves Raise Concerns for Metro Charter -  

The Metro Charter Commission now has a lot of work for its drafting committee, as the group’s task forces continue to report at the body’s weekly meetings.

Still to come are the recommendations about how the services will be divided into urban and general services districts, each with their own tax rates. Those recommendations will be critical to the proposed consolidation charter.

“We’re not there yet,” commission chairwoman Julie Ellis told Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner last week as Joyner looked for some indication. “These are all of great concern to all of us.”

An urban services district would be funded by a property tax rate for people who live in Memphis.

A general services district would be funded by a property tax rate for the entire county, including Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington.

Joyner is among those most concerned about where the money will come from to pay for those services.

“Two-percent of our population uses any service that is offered by the health department – 2 percent,” Joyner said as charter commissioners brought up county services used by Collierville residents. “(Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division) – but we pay handsomely for that.”

Afterward, Joyner questioned how to prevent a metro council from taxing Collierville residents beyond what they actually use.

“They can do it now, though,” argued Charter commissioner Chris Patterson, who said Collierville residents now pay for more than the services they use from county government. “It’s the same animal.”

Joyner and other suburban leaders argue they should be taxed depending on how much their residents use facilities like The Regional Medical Center at Memphis and the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.

Consolidation proponents, however, argue The MED and the health department are countywide services that should be funded by all county taxpayers because the services are available to all county residents.

Meanwhile, the commission has tentatively approved seven recommendations from a task force on central support services.

The recommendations would establish departments within a metro government for building security, fleet management, printing and local government property maintenance.

All recommendations go to a drafting committee that will craft charter language and then take the written provisions back to the charter commission for votes on the language as well as the general idea.

Charter Commissioner Damon Griffin, who headed the support services task force, said the departments would not be full-fledged city divisions with directors appointed by the metro mayor and a tier of deputy directors. Each might have two or three employees and then outsource some work.

The task force recommendations approved by the Charter Commission also call for:

  • A chief information officer, appointed by the metro mayor, to oversee all IT operations.
  • A metro public information office to be part of the executive powers of the metro mayor. The office would serve as the spokesman for all parts of a consolidated local government and not just individual offices or departments.
  • Consolidated purchasing services as part of the department of finance and administration.

The charter proposal is due to be completed by mid-August with a vote on the November ballot.

...

3. UPDATE: Charter Commission On Support Services -

The Metro Charter Commission has gone for the basics in deciding what to call the consolidated government they are in the process of proposing.

The commission voted Thursday afternoon to go with “Memphis-Shelby County Metropolitan Government.”

4. Charter Commission Approves Support Services Organization -

The Metro Charter Commission has gone for the basics in deciding what to call the consolidated government they are in the process of proposing.

The commission voted Thursday afternoon to go with “Memphis-Shelby County Metropolitan Government.”

5. Charter Commission Argues Politics In Law Enforcement -

The group drafting a proposed city-county consolidation charter continues Thursday to vote on and debate changes in local government.

The commission is taking up reports from its task forces and voting on the recommendations. From there, the approved items go to a drafting committee.

6. Metro Charter Commission to Choose Chair -

The first order of business today will be selecting a leader. It’s become a familiar note in political daily planners these days.

The Metro Charter Commission holds its first meeting today on the third floor of the Shelby County Courthouse.

7. 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.

8. 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.

...

9. 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.

...

10. Dwyer Awarded by Governor's Highway Safety Office -

Judge Tim J. Dwyer of the criminal division of Shelby County General Sessions Court received the annual Lifesaver Award from the Governor's Highway Safety Office. The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions toward highway safety in Tennessee.