Monday, December 4, 2006

Council Will Take Up Issue of Resignations

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2006 at 4:00 AM

The Memphis City Council will decide Tuesday whether to call for the resignation of members Rickey Peete and Edmund Ford.

Ford and Peete were named in criminal complaints last week alleging that they took bribes to support a billboard proposal. Both men have given no indication so far that they will resign, and the council can censure them or ask for their resignations but cannot vote them off.

Councilman Scott McCormick on Monday joined colleagues calling for Peete and Ford to resign. McCormick and Carol Chumney cast the only no votes against the billboard proposal, which was passed in October on a 9-2 vote after the Land Use Control Board and planning office opposed it.

"The public's trust and the integrity of the council far supersedes any individual council member," said McCormick. "We have many serious and important issues facing the city of Memphis that will require the full and uncompromised attention of everyone."

He said the scheduled vote on annexation of Bridgewater and Southeast Extended will probably be put off until next year.

McCormick, Jack Sammons, Chumney, Tom Marshall, and E. C. Jones have so far indicated that they would support a resignation resolution. Marshall also said he will sponsor a censure resolution.

City Council Chairman TaJuan Mitchell could remove Peete and Ford from their committee assignments and chairmanships. Peete has already said he will step down as chairman of the board of the Center City Commission.

"Quite frankly, I don't believe the public's faith will be restored if the only action we take is to censure these men," McCormick said.

Peete and Ford are black, and so far no black council members have joined in the call for resignation. The executive committee meets at 9 a.m.

The billboard proposal was for a planned development and two billboards north of Interstate 240 near Prescott. The applicant was attorney William H. Thomas. He has made other interstate billboard applications to the council and also unsuccessfully sought approval for a warehouse in Whitehaven.

Thomas did not return calls seeking comment.

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