Otis Sanford: Boyd’s decision to rescind contracts the right thing to do

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Finally, City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd has done the right thing. He will not move forward on a private contract with the Beale Street Merchants Association to secure sponsorships for major events held on the famed street.

But before we congratulate Boyd for eventually, and probably reluctantly, coming to his senses, we must point out that he did so under heavy pressure and media scrutiny.

The Commercial Appeal broke the story that Boyd accepted a contract offer from the Merchants Association in August that called for his company to seek sponsorships for such events as the Liberty Bowl, the St. Patrick`s Day parades and the New Year`s Eve celebration. In return, he would receive an undisclosed fee.

To make matters worse, Boyd voted in favor of a plan to reimburse Beale Street merchants for security costs earlier this month despite telling the newspaper he would recuse himself on any votes involving Beale Street.

As criticism of the contract grew, Boyd said on Tuesday that he will rescind the deal. But in doing so, he apologized to council colleagues for the media attention, not his bad judgment.

Attorney Allan Wade`s argument that the contract was not a conflict in the pure legal sense was itself pure legalese. Boyd simply should have known better. Hopefully, he has learned that public service is not for private gain.