The 2015 Memphis Mayoral Election: Boss Crump Smiles

thXCTR5MQ5Edward Hull Crump was “The Man” in Memphis politics for most of the first half of the 20th century.  He also ran roughshod over the state of Tennessee politics for most of the time from the 1920s to the 1940s.  He was only mayor of Memphis from 1910 through 1915, and again briefly in 1940.  But, he effectively appointed every city mayor from 1915 to 1954.  He was the  “Boss” and ran the city of Memphis at the same time as Mayor Richard Daley ran everything in Chicago.

Wherever Boss Crump is now, he must have a smile on his face, as he watches the shenanigans, surrounding the Current Mayor, A.C. Wharton, and the Mayoral Election of 2015.

Today is Election Day in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Incumbent Mayor and Mayoral Candidate, A.C. Wharton, made an announcement yesterday that has set the Bluff City buzzing.

WHBQ-TV, Channel 13, the local Fox affiliate, reported that

A large turnout is expected for Thursday’s elections in Memphis. As a result, the campaigns and even the City of Memphis will have lawyers on standby in case something goes wrong.

The city promises to have its “election integrity task force” ready.  The team of a dozen lawyers from the City Attorney’s Office will handle calls from voters at the office, but they will not be stationed at the polls.

“The City Attorney’s Office represents the city, not the elected officials, regardless of who is in the seats,” Deputy City Attorney Regina Newman told FOX 13. “There are always questions about city elections; questions from voters , so we try to assist the voters.”

The candidates for mayor will have their own teams manning the polls.  The Collins campaign spent Wednesday night giving last minute instructions to volunteers and monitors who will fan out across the city.

“We have our own legal team to address any issue at any poll ready to be dispatched,” mayoral candidate Harold Collins said.

Collins told FOX13 city hall lawyers should not be used during this election because Mayor A C Wharton is running for reelection and the race is expected to be tight.

“I think an impartial panel could have been deployed,” Collins said.

FOX 13 asked Newman if lawyers from her office presented a conflict of interest.

“No,” she told FOX13. “The city attorney represents the city.”

The integrity task force started in during the 2012 election, when the City of Memphis allowed voters to use a library card as a form of identification.  The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law soon afterwards making library cards an invalid form of ID.

The fact that the current Mayor of Memphis is sending out an “Election Integrity Task Force” consisting of his own staff of lawyers, to make certain that citizens “vote correctly”, makes the use of the word “Integrity” ironic enough. However, this announcement comes of the heels of another ongoing bit of chicanery emanating out of Memphis City Hall, that would also make Boss Crump proud.

WREG.com reported on October 1st that

Mayor A C Wharton spoke about the controversial $880,000 deal between the maker of MPD’s body cameras and his campaign manager. The city required TASER International to hire a woman or minority PR company to educate the public about their new body cameras for MPD.

TASER chose Deidre Malone, who also runs Wharton’s re-election campaign.

“It’s my understanding that Taser and Ms Malone by mutual consent agreed to cancel that contract,” said Wharton.

TASER said it was “disappointed” Malone didn’t tell them about her connection, and they’re committed to ethical business practices.

The mayor said he didn’t see the deal but didn’t think there was anything legally or ethically wrong with it, and apparently neither did his inner circle.

Everyone from his campaign manager, chief administrators, lawyers, and police leaders were aware of the issue.

“Had I wished I’d known before there was communication so I could say don’t do that, but it didn’t happen, and I’ll move on,” said Wharton.

The city said the money wasn’t all profit but to pay for billboards and TV ad’s, but it’s unclear how much.

Wharton said someone else will get the job, and they’ll be a minority too.

The Carter Malone Group, LLC released the following statement to WREG:

“The contract between The Carter Malone Group, LLC and Taser International has been cancelled effectively immediately by mutual agreement. I want to reiterate that nothing was done that can be considered unethical or improper. I stand by the fact that I obtained the contract based on my firm’s qualifications and body of work and not for any other reason.
I appreciate the support from the individuals and various organizations for me and my firm. It is truly unfortunate that a woman and minority-owned company, that has a track record like The Carter Malone Group, has to be subjected to the type of crit$880,000 icism and allegations that have been subjected upon my firm. The City has made some strides in increasing the percentage of women and minority-owned businesses doing business with the City. I believe under the continued leadership of Mayor A C Wharton that percentage will grow.”

Just hours later, TASER released the following statement on the contract:

“TASER International and the Carter Malone Group have mutually agreed to terminate our agreement, effective immediately.

“TASER International is disappointed that The Carter Malone Group did not disclose to TASER prior to entering into this contract that Deidre Malone, its President and CEO, was the City of Memphis Mayor’s campaign manager. While The Carter Malone Group was selected based upon merit and its quality of work, TASER has a code of Business Conduct and Ethics which prohibits its contractors from having a business relationship that can even be perceived as an attempt to influence business decisions.

“TASER is fully committed to ethical business practices as well as the 10% goal for Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises and we will work with the City of Memphis to find a suitable new contractor.”

Deidre Malone is a former local News Anchor, a Former City Chief Administrative Officer, and a Former Chairman of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. She is currently not only A.C. Wharton’s Campaign Manager, she is also the head of the Carter Malone Group. She leveraged her pull with the Mayor to land the almost $1 million contract, referenced in the preceding article.

To say that corruption is rampant in the hallowed halls of Memphis City Government would be an understatement.

Memphians thought that they were ridding themselves of Mayoral Corruption, when the long, infamous reign of Former Mayor W.W. “King Willie” Herenton finally, thankfully, came to an end, with the FBI hot on his trail.

Unfortunately for Memphians, the reign of A.C. Wharton, which started out promising, turned out to, instead, be reminiscent of the old song by Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits, “I’m Henry VIII, I am”.

Second verse, same as the first.

Until He Comes,

KJ

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