Memphis mayor criticized for new city-issued ride

Memphis mayor criticized for new city-issued ride

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis mayor has a new ride and city council members are not happy about it.

Mayor A C Wharton got a new 2013 Cadillac GTS two weeks ago. It prompted a committee discussion on take-home vehicles for city officials.

"I just don't think that was the best use of taxpayer money," said Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland.

"It sends the wrong message," agreed Councilman Kemp Conrad.

A city hall insider sent Action News 5 a photos of the mayor's new wheels.

Council member say Mayor Wharton had a perfectly fine 2010 Cadillac in light of the daunting 2013 budget ahead.

Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said the mayor's choice would have been a hybrid, but that cost more than the $1,200 per month lease on the Caddy.

Little said the mayor believes in getting out into the community.

"Business persons we're trying to recruit...when we're dealing with other high-level elected officials, we want to represent the city well," said Little.

Council members are calling the situation "Hot Rod Part II".

Former Mayor Willie Herenton got backlash for driving a luxury Cadillac Escalade. So did Interim CAO Jack Sammons, who drove the Escalade after Herenton left office.

Then, General Services Director Estrice Boone tricked out his city ride with candy red paint and a Hemi engine.

"How much of a role does he have on buying his own vehicle?" asked Action News 5's Kontji Anthony.

Little replied, "Very little. I know he deferred that to general services."

The city says only 13 of their roughly 400 take-home vehicles are non-public safety and they have downsized the total number of take-home vehicles by nearly 60 since last year.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.