Morris On Filling MLGW Post: Wait Until After the Election 

Former MLGW head and current mayoral candidate Herman Morris issued a statement today summing up his views on Willie Herenton's role in the MLGW mess and about the utility company's selection of a president to replace Joseph Lee.

The release reads as follows:

"Mayoral candidate and former President/CEO of Memphis Light Gas & Water, Herman Morris, Jr., today called for a moratorium on a national search for the next leader of the public utility until after the election so that the best possible candidate can be found.

Morris also strongly suggested that an interim president can be found among the experienced managers, staff or recent retirees."

“'On behalf of the people who pay their utility bills on time every month and who deserve to have the best municipal utility in the nation, I call for these steps because I know that no potential candidate for the job is going to agree to become president during a political campaign in which there is an excellent chance that the administration at City Hall will change,' Morris said.

“'It’s imperative that we find the best possible leader to bring our utility back to the position it once held. As our next mayor, I promise to start that process on day one — October 5,' he added.

"Morris pointed out in his remarks at a press conference in front of City Hall that MLGW has gone from a number one independent rating among public utilities under his management, to 'dead last under Herenton’s administration.'

“'On my watch, MLGW was efficient and was operated under sound economic and fiscal principles,' he said. 'Under my watch, ratepayers enjoyed the first rate DECREASE in the company’s history, and there were no rate increases for 10 years.'

"Morris charged that under Herenton, MLGW became a 'nest of cronyism and gangster management at the top.' Herenton, he said, showed lack of leadership 'by shoving aside highly qualified individuals and replacing them — often in redundant positions — with what can only be called "friends of Willie".'

"During the last few years, Morris charged, utility bills have gone up, employee morale at the utility has fallen, and 'confidence among the citizens of our community has plummeted to all time lows.'

"Morris put the blame for MLGW’s many woes at the foot of the current mayor.

"He said the costs to the public as a result of 'negligence and incompetence at the top' have included a 400 percent increase in write-offs of bad debt; a $15 million debacle in Kentucky gas caves decisions; and an outrageous attempt to make ratepayers pay more than $61,000 in legal bills for resigned MLGW president Joseph Lee.

"Morris promised to begin putting MLGW back on the right track the moment he is elected mayor, including firing political appointees placed in various positions at the utility by Herenton."

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