Emotions run high during Memphis city council meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Emotions ran high as the Memphis City Council heard solutions to health benefit cuts, and for the first time, dozens of sanitation workers united with other city workers and retirees to protest.

Tuesday morning, whether it was raising taxes, taking a look at tax breaks for businesses or making cuts in every department, the council listened to you on how to fund the pension without increasing health care costs for retirees and employees.

Mayor A C Wharton, who said he is open to suggestions, was nowhere to be found.

Members of his administration, however, were at the committee meeting.

“This was not a negotiating session. Nobody negotiated down there. You misunderstood. You don’t negotiate down there. My door is always open,” said Wharton. “I was represented at the meeting. There was no negotiatin. I want to get something done. This was for them to speak. Why should I be there in the way when they can speak, and I can hear everyone they say. You get things done. You sit around a table. That’s what we want to do.”

Emotions escalated as the day went on.

Hundreds of angry workers, retirees and their families hoped they were heard from outside city hall.

They waved signs and prayed. Anything to get the council to take another look.

Dozens of public works employees joined in, wearing bright green shirts, for the first time.

“The public and also city employees are tired of being taxed every year when it deals with the budget. [City employees] haven’t received raises in five years, and now this,” said public works employee Michael Goodman.

They took their protest to the city council meeting, spilling into the hallways and an overflow room.

Wives held back tears as they told the council their stories and begged for change.

“I am curious if you’ve ever put yourself in a firefighter’s, a police officer’s or paramedic’s shoes?,” asked one tearful wife of a MPD Major.

Sadness then turned to frustration when they realized the council wasn’t going to make any changes Thesday night.

One firefighter got personal, asking council members if they would take away their loved ones’ or their own health benefits, or if they would take a pay cut.

“Mr. Conrad, or Captain Jerry Springer, how about you? Would you take a 75 percent hit to fund somebody in your family. I am not looking at you. I am talking to you!” he said.

It got so tense at one point, Councilman Harold Collins reminded the people at the meeting, “personal attacks are not becoming of the badge.”

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams addressed the council saying the city should vote in a half percent sales tax.

Williams said 80% would fund the pension, and the rest would go to debt services.

Mayor Wharton said he would support the proposal being sent to voters.

Even if the controversy is magically resolved, next year Mayor Wharton said the city will have to find another $30 million to fund the pension.

He said one way to meet that goal is restructuring the police department.

The state of Tennessee now requires local government to full fund pensions.

13 comments

  • King Willie

    I can feel the love! I’m sure all the black people and a lot of dumb whites voted for me in 92 are feeling very politically correct. Change! Forward! Bwaa haaa haaa

  • JOE

    I don’t get it. If you get up and go to work everyday they take from you. If you get up and watch tv everyday they take care of you…

  • scooby do

    The real situation is this. The money was there to meet the city’s obligations. They city leaders did something else with the money. Where is the money? We are talking about a lot of money. The taxpayers should be asking that question. This problem is not a revenue problem. It is a spending, and shall I say stealing, problem. People know things and they are afraid to come forward.

  • Bill Zebub

    Nonoe in the World gets DREAM BENEFITs like the MPD and MFD. All of these Booby Babies were promised a DREAM BENEFITS package by a corrupt Politician. You lost suckers, you lost.

  • John G

    The thing is now that they want a sales tax increase to cover the healthcare costs of current city employees but I am retired and my costs have went up by 30% in the last 2 years alone to where my costs are nearly as expensive as my
    house note I don’t see anyone at my former employer with signs and raising all get out,and I am willing to bet that the
    healthcare costs at this business I worked for has risen by that amount or higher.I am willing to vote for a sales tax increase only to benefit the retirees only they are the ones suffering the most from these high costs.AC and this City
    Council have both known that this would come and with these officials that we elected blaming former administrations
    is beyond belief this is nothing but like a credit card to them(the publics money) once they have maxed out one card we will start on a new one max it out next.Look at it we got a Street Light Fee now on our utility bill this nothing but a new tax
    our elected officials have put on us to bear what is next a Water Hydrant Fee.You bet that next year that they will raise
    Property Taxes to fund some other “Project”.I think it is about time all citizens (of all races) take a long hard look at some of these people we have in office.TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE FOLKS.

    • MPDMFD

      people are rasing all get out about it because they are risking their lives. this isnt just some desk job. they go to work with the possibility of never coming home. they deserve better

      • Bill Zebub

        A lot of those MPD and MFD personnel don’t work the streets. Some never make an arrest or break a sweat. Find another career, I did, it didn’t have Dream Benefits and what benefits I had just got cut thanks to ObamaCare. I complained and was told to take it or leave it, not whine about it, play hooky or slow down my performance. I stayed and I still get a paycheck.

      • Long Gone

        Anyone that’s gets up and goes to work each day in Memphis is risking their life. I’m no longer sure who they should fear most. It appears to be the ones sworn to protect

    • Christina

      The fact is that the money was there, they reallocated those dollars to something else against contract, and against the State mandate. The City had “dream benefits” because the employees contribute more to their pension and healthcare than any other city employees in the nation. The City would pay less to meet their obligations each year than if they only had to pay into social security like most employers do. Even the consultants the mayor hired stated it would cost more to change our pension than to leave it as is, and others involved are asking why he is messing with the healthcare benefits. The healthcare cost is not the cause of the budget issue. The budget issue is caused by overzealous spending and debt accumulation from other things. Even the STATE has told them over, and over to stop spending and pay what they owe to their employees.

  • John G

    To MpdMfd this not about these officers and fire fighters risking their life every day I believe that every citizen in the USA is fully aware of the dangers their jobs pose to them,but the fact is there is no one that is inflation or cost increase proof.
    Another is 600 officers took off sick with the so called “blue flu” these officers and others put their comrades and the public in danger by doing this.The one thing in the Military is that you never put your comrades or the people and the country you have sworn to protect in danger if I am not mistaken they take a similar oath.This is everybodys fault that it has come to this because we keep putting these same people back in office that serve themselves and not the people that put them in there.

  • Don

    Wives held back tears as they told the council their stories and begged for change.

    If all of the women and wives in the city would get together and vote A.C Wharton out vote for someone who black or white, can make the changes you wish for.

    A.C wharton followed Oboma’s idea and and both who vowed there would be a change.and you got the change.
    The nation and Memphis are broke.
    Memphis is a third world in a third world county.

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