VOL. 132 | NO. 38 | Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Council Waits on Answers About City Hall List
By Bill Dries
Several dozen people protesting City Hall's escort list, including some on the list, made their own "mug shots" Tuesday outside City Hall and compared their actual weight to their weight on the list.
Memphis City Council members had protesters outside City Hall and in council chambers Tuesday, Feb. 21, on different causes.
City employees opposed to proposed changes in the city’s impasse ordinance carried signs in council chambers reading “You Think Crime Is High Now Repeal Impasse.”
The council approved the measure on the first of three readings as part of a consent agenda with no debate.
The changes would combine all impasses between the city administration and employee groups over economic contract issues to a single impasse committee of three city council members.
It would also require unions at impasse with the administration to outline how accepting their proposal at impasse would specifically change the city budget.
All of the unions representing city employees are opposed to the changes proposed by council member Kemp Conrad.
The council also approved of the first of three readings an ordinance that would change how the city responds to false burglar alarms.
Meanwhile, several dozen protesters including many of the citizens on a controversial list requiring a police escort to go anywhere in City Hall gathered Tuesday evening outside City Hall to poke fun at the list as well as protest the list.
Red cutouts of the letter A – a “scarlet letter” -- were worn by protesters along with sashes made from yellow police crowd control tape.
The letters were pinned on after the protesters had a “mug shot” drawn with their weight.
Some of those on City Hall’s list were weighed to see how it matched against the weight and height for them on the city’s list.
“They said 170, so much for political intelligence,” Paul Garner said after his weigh in. The “mug shots” were taped to the columns of City Hall.
At the edge of the crowd, a plainclothes police officer recorded video of the protest.
Council chairman Berlin Boyd said Tuesday the security of City Hall is not within the council’s scope of power and is the responsibility of the mayor’s office. He also said he and the rest of the council are awaiting Police Director Michael Rallings’ review of the list.
“There are names on the list that I found out have never been involved in a direct protest,” Boyd said. “So I don’t know how they have concluded how to add individuals to the list and how that list was determined.”
But council member Janis Fullilove said she was “livid” about the existence of the list.
“Even though we did not have a hand in coming up with the list, I think it would be irresponsible for us as good public servants not to say anything about it.”
“There should not be a list of people who have done nothing – no irreparable harm to this city, this body, the 7th floor, the police department,” she added. “Everybody has a right, their First Amendment right, to free speech, expression – whether you are marching, whether you are talking. This is not the Trump era.”
In planning and development items, the council voted down a Raleigh clubhouse for the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club at 2729 Walnut Road at James Road. Neighbors objected to it in a residential area on property zoned for single family residential. Leaders of the club cited its nonprofit status and the community projects it is involved in.
The council approved a restaurant-bar at 2166 Central Avenue east of S. Cooper Street that was originally an ice house. The business will feature live entertainment and the council amended the condition to permit pinball machines and foosball which were to be forbidden under the original conditions.
“What’s wrong with having pinball machines?” council member Frank Colvett asked before proposing the amendment with the full council approving the amendment.