Mayor speaks out, defends youth violence plan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After calls for clarity from city council members, Mayor A C Wharton spoke with WREG about the status of his youth violence plan.

This comes in the wake of another public teen brawl, this time at a skating rink.

"No. I have not heard about the plan. I have heard nothing about it," Jim Strickland with the City Council said.

"Listen, I don't care about the complaints. Let me make this clear. We have a program. We never promised anybody it's going to be done on this precise date," Wharton said.

The mayor explained that he's been busy behind the scenes, seeking private donations to ease the burden on the taxpayers.

Wharton explained that a private donor gave $800,000 for the 901 BLOC Squad, which is a group of interventionists that target at-risk areas.

Wharton also said private donations make up the initial funding for two parenting centers, though he would not specify how much.

The City Council recently decided not to fund the mayor's youth ambassadors program, which is designed to help build teens into leaders. The council did, however, set aside money for teens for this summer.

"They did approve funding for some job programs, which is good. All I'm interested in is helping the young folks," Wharton said.

He said if the council doesn't give money for youth programs, he will find a way to get them funded through donors.

Wharton said the parenting centers will open sometime this year.

Still, some council members, like Strickland, are critical of the mayor's pace.

"It's like many of his pronouncements. I never anticipated him following through and getting things done. I'm sure it will float off with the many other plans that he has presented in the last few years," Strickland said.