Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Council Faces Criticism Over Public Information Campaign on Ballot Questions

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 8:43 AM

click to enlarge early_voting.jpeg

Some Memphians are troubled with the Memphis City Council’s move Tuesday night to fund an educational campaign on three council-created referenda.

The resolution was introduced by Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., in response to an influx of questions from the public on the three ballot questions, which cover run-off elections and term limits. The council approved the measure 5-3. Council members Worth Morgan, J Ford Canale, and Kemp Conrad were the three to vote no. 

The resolution was introduced and voted on without the item having been listed on the agenda.

Some have called for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to veto the resolution that will allow the council to spend $30,000 to $40,000 of the council’s general fund for an informative campaign. Though Strickland said he disagrees with the resolution in a Tuesday night tweet, under city charter, he isn’t able to veto it.

“Under the City Charter, I don't have the authority to veto resolutions because they don't require my approval as mayor,” Strickland said. “The Charter only allows the mayor to veto ordinances. While I disagree with this expenditure, I don't have authority over how City Council spends its budget.”

Carlos Ochoa, media coordinator for the group Save Instant Runoff Memphis worries the campaign will be “mis-informative” and “one-sided.” The group is concerned that the council will use taxpayer money to fund a “vote yes” propaganda campaign.

“Save IRV, Inc. condemns the City Council's use of taxpayer money to misinform voters toward passage of referenda which merely help the Council stay in power,” Ochoa said in a statement late Tuesday night.

Myron Lowery, former city council member and Save IRV board member said he is “outraged,” that the council is using taxpayer dollars to fund a “one-sided campaign.”

“It is deceitful,” Lowery said. “It's unethical. It never should have been done."

State Representative and Save IRV board member Johnnie Turner also chimed in, saying "if you ever needed yet another reason to vote against all these referendums, the city council just gave you one."

The council has not yet said how the campaign will look, but here's a screenshot of Councilman Berlin Boyd's chairman's recap regarding the decision. 
Councilman Berlin Boyd's Chairman's Recap
  • Councilman Berlin Boyd's Chairman's Recap

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