Herenton's motivations revealed - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Herenton's motivations revealed

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - New information is surfacing about the motives behind former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's decision to pull a petition to run for the seat he vacated just two weeks ago.

Sources in Herenton's inner circle now say some of what the public has witnessed since Herenton's retirement July 30th is a behind-the-scenes power triangle between Herenton, his old foe, Attorney Richard Fields, and emerging foe, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery.

They say the power triangle involves three big deals moving through City Hall.

"I'm being told that there is a movement afoot on the part of this mayor pro tem and his CAO (Jack Sammons) to consummate agreements that may not be in the best interest of the City of Memphis," Herenton said in an explosive interview with Action News 5's Joe Birch Friday.

People close to Herenton and others inside City Hall say the three city deals not only compelled the former mayor to run for his old seat, but also compelled Herenton to refuse City Attorney Elbert Jefferson's request to resign last month in order to keep his appointee inside City Hall.

City Hall sources say the three deals are part of the reason Lowery had police escort the Jefferson from City Hall in an attempt to fire him.

"There's more to Mr. Lowery wanting to terminate Mr. Elbert Jefferson than meets the eye," Herenton told Action News 5.

Herenton sources say with the mayor out of the way, Jefferson is now the one person preventing the deals from getting approved.

Mayor Pro Tem Lowery has always maintained he wanted to fire the city attorney for spending too much taxpayer money by outsourcing legal services.

Lowery said he also believed Jefferson wanted to leave because he had tried to resign under Herenton.

Herenton would not share specifics of the three deals in his interview with Joe Birch, but people in Herenton's camp gave Action News 5 the rundown on the three reasons the mayor wants back in:

Deal 1: Alcon, Incorporated

Attorney Richard Fields represents Alcon, Inc. in a bid to take over collections for the city's Emergency Medical Services.

Fields, a known enemy of both Herenton and Jefferson, has not signed off on the deal.

Lowery's administration says the Alcon deal hasn't crossed their desk and might never come up during his 75-day tenure.

Deal #2: The City of Memphis vs. Performa Entertainment

The city is embroiled in a lawsuit to collect funds from Performa Entertainment, the company that runs Beale Street.

It came out after court last week that Lowery's administration is considering an out-of-court settlement with Performa, something Herenton doesn't like.

Herenton's camp said he wanted more oversight of Performa's profits.

In Herenton's absence, City Attorney Elbert Jefferson is continuing the lawsuit against Performa.

Deal #3: Mid-South Fairgrounds Redevelopment

Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery has expressed his desire to get the stalled deal to redevelop the Mid-South Fairgrounds moving.

Former Mayor Herenton said the deal on the table was bad for the city because The Turley Group's fee structure was "outlandish."

In addition to Herenton's concerns about the fee structure, he said he did not approve the deal because of personality conflicts between his former staff and developer Henry Turley's staff.

In response to the Alcon deal, Attorney Fields confirmed he does represent Alcon. Fields said his client is seeking a bid with the city, but he says his motives are good.


Fields explained why he made recent visits to City Hall, and why he showed up in court to watch Jefferson sue Mayor Pro Tem Lowery for attempting to fire the city attorney.

"I've never met Elbert Jefferson, and I really wanted to see him in action. Second, I wanted to see Myron Lowery in action, which I must say, he did really, really well," Fields said.

Herenton has always said Fields has a vendetta against him since the former allies fell out over circumstances never made public.

"They've got to understand how corrupt Mayor Herenton's administration was from top to bottom," Fields said.

Fields explained those sentiments in a letter he recently wrote to the former mayor condemning Herenton and his former employees, friends and family members.

Though the city attorney says contracts must have his signature, Lowery's administration says contracts can be approved with just the mayor's signature, so the arguments made by Herenton's camp are irrelevant.

Mayor Pro Tem Lowery says the mayor's motivations to move back to the seventh floor are news to him and he thinks the sources who shared this information should not hide their identities.


Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly