Sanford: City should respond to funding threats

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The agitation directed at Memphis by conservatives in the state legislature shows no sign of diminishing. In fact, there is talk swirling around the capital that some lawmakers want to punish Memphis by eliminating funding for legislative initiatives all because Mayor Jim Strickland and the City Council figured out a way to remove Confederate monuments from city parks.

As you recall, the council unanimously approved the sale of the two parks to a newly formed nonprofit on December 20. Within hours, the statues of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis were dismantled.

State law prevents removing monuments from public property without approval by the Tennessee Historical Commission, but says nothing about private land.

Clearly some lawmakers were caught off guard and embarrassed by the city finding a loophole to take down the monuments and immediately called for an investigation.

House Majority Leader Glen Casada reportedly threatened to deny funding for the city's pet projects. He said if city leaders can afford to sell parks for $1,000 each, they don't need state funding.

Such talk is not just ridiculous, it's probably illegal and local lawmakers should push back vigorously.

It just underscores the contempt some legislators have for Memphis.