Tuesday, February 10, 2009

City Council Attorney Rebuts Commercial Appeal Article

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Memphis City Council attorney Allan Wade says members should not take any action against Mayor Willie Herenton because the mayor has done nothing wrong.

In a letter dated February 6th to City Council chairman Myron Lowery, Wade rebuts a January article in The Commercial Appeal about the mayor's option on the downtown Greyhound bus station. The newspaper reported that Herenton made $91,000 when he sold the option.

A federal grand jury has been questioning former City Council members and associates of the mayor including special assistant Pete Aviotti and developer Elvin Moon.

Wade's nine-page letter examines the news article and city and Memphis Area Transit Authority records regarding Greyhound's downtown facility and a new intermodal facility near the airport. "The MATA intermodal facility was part of MATA's master plan for the extension of its light-rail system," Wade says. "This transaction had nothing to do with the Greyhound facility. As far as we know, the mayor did not have an option to purchase the Airways and Brooks Road property, which was the subject of the council’s resolution. As we have previously shown, any relationship between the downtown Greyhound facility and the MATA intermodal facility is speculative at best and probably non-existent."

The letter concludes: "It is our opinion that no action on the part of the council is required based on the "facts" identified in the (reporter Mark) Perrusquia article or in the fact in the city's and MATA's documents, because there was no violation of city ordinance, state law, oath of office, or the current or prior ethics ordinance."

Wade also takes issue with The Commercial Appeal referring to Herenton as "the mayor" when, Wade argues, Herenton was acting in an official capacity as a private citizen.

--John Branston

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