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VOL. 133 | NO. 103 | Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Canale is Newest City Council Member

By Bill Dries

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Joseph Ford Canale takes the oath of office as the newest Memphis City Council member Tuesday, May 22, from Circuit Court Judge Gina Higgins as his family looks on. (Daily News/Bill Dries)

The newest Memphis City Council member is Joseph Ford Canale. The Christian Brothers High School golf coach and funeral director got the seven votes required to fill the vacant Super District 9 seat on the first and only ballot by the 12 council members.

“I know it’s a lot to learn but I’m ready to work hard,” Canale said Tuesday, May 22, before the vote as he and six other citizens who applied for the position got a chance to make their case.

Council chairman Berlin Boyd stopped the council roll call vote after Canale had seven votes before it was concluded.

Canale was one of four contenders nominated by council members. The other contenders for the appointment were former Shelby County and Memphis City Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr., FedEx manager Marvin White Jr. and Girls Inc. CEO Lisa Moore.

After taking the oath of office from Circuit Court Judge Gina Higgins, Canale said he intends to run in the special election for the council seat on the Aug. 2 ballot. The winner of the race serves to the end of 2019 – the term of office of council member Philip Spinosa, who resigned earlier this month to take a job in the leadership of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Those running for the seat on the August ballot have until noon June 21 to file their qualifying petitions with the Shelby County Election Commission.

Canale is the grandson of the late Shelby County Quarterly Court member and County Commissioner John Ford Canale.

“So deep down inside that’s probably where I have the desire,” Canale said.

He was part of a solid seven-vote majority on the council that approved the city’s final offer in a set of contract impasses with 13 employee groups and the unions that represent them. 

The 13 resolutions deciding the impasses are a major piece of a council decision on the city’s operating budget and city property tax rate for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The unions’ differences with the city included in just about every case the city’s last offer of a performance bonus or pay and no percentage wage increase.

Leaders of the police and fire fighters unions were vocal in their opposition to the performance pay arguing their members and other city employees deserved pay increases not tied to performance to keep up with inflation.

The administration stuck to a basic argument that most of the employee groups made more than similar employees in other cities as shown in its market studies or were only marginally under the market average.

The unions disputed the validity of the market studies.

The sometimes heated debate came the same day that the council honored the 1968 sanitation workers who went on strike 50 years with the council’s annual Humanitarian of the Year awards.

In the 1968 strike, the workers were represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – one of the 13 unions shut out in Tuesday’s impasse proceedings.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396