City business at standstill as council members sit out 4th meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council adjourned without a quorum for a fourth day Friday as a bitter battle over an appointment to a City Council seat continued.

Council members Martavious Jones, Reid Hedgepeth, Jamita Swearengen, Patrice Robinson and Joe Brown were not present. Chairman Berlin Boyd said the council would meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Jones, Swearengen, Robinson and Brown left the meeting Tuesday when council could not reach the seven votes required to confirm either Lonnie Treadaway or Rhonda Logan for the district one seat left vacant by former councilman Bill Morrison. Treadaway withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday.

Boyd said he’s looking into ways to meet by getting around the quorum rules if the members still choose not to come.

"Where there's a will there’s a way. We’re doing research at this moment so there are always ways to work around things," Boyd said.

Boyd said they only planned to address budget issues including approval of MLGW's budget and grants Tuesday, but hold off on addressing the District 1 appointment.

“We have various SkyCop cameras that neighborhoods purchased just waiting on mere approval from the council. It not only affects a large area of Memphis but it affects neighborhoods as well," Boyd said.

MLGW CEO J.T. Young said the utility company wanted to get to work making improvements as soon as January, but they need council's approval.

“Early in ’19 we’d like to move forward with bond issues for infrastructure improvements on behalf of our customers. What we're concerned about is we may not be able to do that depending on the timing of any approvals," Young said.

Councilman Martavius Jones said he still does not plan to attend Tuesday's meeting due to plans to go out of town. He hoped to address the MLGW budget at the meeting December 18.

Boyd also had some strong words for potential candidates, saying no one who wanted the job had a working knowledge of government. He also was disappointed District 1 candidates only focused on Raleigh rather than Raleigh and Cordova, which comprise the district.

"If you asked me about budgets, what's on the MLGW bill. I could answer it," Boyd said of his application period prior to his appointment to council. "If you asked any of these candidates who applied so far, guess what they can’t answer it. But they expect us to support them... You're coming in and taking on a role that’s very important. It affects a lot of lives. I take this very seriously and I expect anyone to take it seriously."

Asked what it will take to get the other members to come back at this point, Boyd said, “Jesus.”

"We have momentum. Companies are announcing headquarters are coming. The last thing we want to be is the laughing stock of the world," Boyd said.