Sammons optimistic as interim CAO term winds down - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sammons optimistic as interim CAO term winds down

By Andrew Douglas - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - For the past 80 days, he's been scouring the books of the city of Memphis.  And, for a better part of that time, the city's interim Chief Administrative Officer has been leading the news cycle with announcements, actions, and investigations.

From tracking down take home cars to investigating overpaid temporary city employees, Jack Sammons says the past few weeks have been some of the most action packed of his life.

"I certainly didn't intend for it to be that way," he said.

But for Sammons, who has acted as CAO under Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, change was desperately needed at Memphis City Hall.

"This place was starving for leadership and people had a lot of pent up energy," Sammons said. "They had creative ideas that they wanted to see implemented, but they wanted somebody to listen to them."

And some city employees wanted to share much more.

"It was amazing how much information flowed up the elevator in anonymous envelopes, which would tell us what was going on, which was very helpful," Sammons said.

Over the past two and a half months, Sammons has been part of the investigations into students not getting paid from the city's Summer Youth Jobs program, Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson authorizing payments for former Mayor Willie Herenton's private legal fees, and Herenton's unused vacation time - which he cashed in annually for more than $130,000.

"If you're going to give people authority you've got to give them responsibility and you've got to have accountability, and I am not confident that was here before," Sammons said. "Once they saw that there wasn't going to be any retribution, if you provided that kind of whistle blower-type info, it just continued to flow and really helped, I think, improve the government."

Sammons said he will leave office feeling optimistic.

"There are a lot of great people that work here, and there's some folks that probably ought not be working here," he said. "We got a tremendous amount of opportunity. This can be a great city. Frankly, it's broken right now, and we need to fix it."

Sammons believes that fix can happen under new Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's leadership. Sammons said he and Wharton have not talked about any future plans for him at City Hall.

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