Naming "crime, cronyism, and corruption" as major issues in
this year's mayoral election, candidate Carol Chumney addressed the
Germantown Democratic Club Monday night, pledging if elected to "get a good
team" in order to bring renewed efficiency to Memphis city government.
Subsequently, city council member Chumney fielded at least
two questions from the membership (which includes several Memphis voters who
live in Cordova) about her reported difficulties with the mayor's office and
fellow council members.
One member asked: What about her "relation building" and
"leadership style"? Would these be obstacles?
Chumney responded that she had developed good relations
with fellow legislators while a state House member for 13 years and said, "City
government has been a little different because there's been quite frankly some
corruption. Many times I would be the only one who would stand up and say
anything. Some folks are going to get mad at you. I'm a strong leader, I will
tell you that."
When another member followed that up by asking if the city council would back her proposals if she were elected mayor, Chumney said, "We're going to elect a new city council." Noting the virtual turnover of membership in the county commission in last year's elections, she expressed confidence that city voters would follow suit. "It's going to happen here. They're going to vote and vote in a new team."
Pledging to renew cooperation between city and county law-enforcement teams, Chumney said, "It's disrespectful to expect the police to go two years without a pay raise while asking them to risk their lives for us."
She repeated her objections to Riverfront Development
Corporation proposals, including the recently approved Beale St. Landing
project, and called both for the city's retention of The Coliseum and for
"something classy" in the downtown Pyramid.
Chumney said she'd heard "disturbing rumors" about the past
management of Memphis Networx and reported plans for its pending sale and
promised "to get to the bottom of it." She said the council's authority over a
prospective sale was uncertain but said she was seeking authoritative word on
that from the state Attorney General's office.
Stephens has been active in an effort to strengthen laws
regulating sexually oriented businesses (S.O.B.'s in the accepted jargon) and
specifically to make sure that veteran topless-club entrepreneur Steve Cooper
does not convert a supposed "Italian restaurant" now under construction in
Cordova into an S.O.B.
He discussed those efforts but offered other opinions as
well, some of them surprising - a statement that "consolidation is coming,
whether we like it or not," for example - and some not, like his conviction (a
la Taylor) that tax increases are not necessary for the city to maintain and
improve basic services.
In general, Stephens, who seems to have a head start on other potential District 2 aspirants, made an effort to sound accommodationist rather than confrontational, stressing a need for council members to transcend racial and urban-vs.-suburban divisions and expressing confidence in the ability of currently employed school personnel to solve the system's problems.
--Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Herman Morris attracted
several hundred attendees to the formal opening of his sprawling, high-tech
campaign headquarters on Union Avenue - the same HQ that, week before last,
suffered a burglary - of computers containing sensitive information, for one
thing - a fact that some Morris supporters find suspicious in light of various
other instances of hanky-panky currently being alleged in the mayoral race.
-- Yet a a third major political gathering took place Wednesday night, as Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton was the beneficiary of a big-ticket fundraiser at The Racquet Club. Proceeds of that one have been estimated in the $50,000 range - a tidy sum for what the county mayor alleges (and alleged again Wednesday night) is intended only as a kind of convenience fund, meant for charitable donations and various other protocol circumstances expected of someone in his position.
Right. Meanwhile, Wharton declined to address the most widely speculated-upon subject in Memphis politics: Will he or won't he enter the city mayor's race? As everybody knows, and as the county mayor has informally acknowledged, he is the subject these days of non-stop blandishments in that regard, and there's very little doubt that these have accelerated since a dramatic recent press conference by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton alleging "the 2007 Political Conspiracy."
While some of Mayor Wharton's intimates at the Wednesday night affair were keeping to the line that the chances of his running for city mayor were minimal to non-existent, their answers to inquiries about the matter were delivered after what we'll call meaningfully inflected pauses. The door may be shut for now, but it clearly isn't padlocked.