Herenton happy overall with Lee, MLGW - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Herenton happy overall with Lee, MLGW

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said Thursday he's happy with the direction in which MLGW is moving, but he says the utility's president needs to focus on succeeding and not on getting caught up in city politics.

Mayor Herenton's advice to Joseph Lee was simple.  "Work hard.  Do your job.  Because you'll never be liked."

The utility's president has been as much a lightning rod for media attention as the Mayor himself.

He's taken heat for rising utility bills, for tricky union talks, for his personal bodyguards and for pricey executive car allowances.

In December, Joseph Lee gave his annual car allowance back to the utility.

"I said and bear in mind, for many of them, they will never like you.  Accept that.  Also accept they want your head on a silver platter.  That's what they want.  I said you gave up thirteen, fourteen, fifteen thousand dollar car allowance.  I wouldn't have given up one penny of that," said Herenton.

MLGW has been a pet project of Herenton's for two and a half years.  His concerns about golden parachutes and executive salaries led to the dismissal of previous president Herman Morris.

Herenton now says MLGW is too politicized and that it's become a flashpoint for the city council.

He says he wants Lee to stop worrying about what people think.

"I said, Joseph, first of all, in the black community, you're never gonna be liked because they think they pay more than white people do.  They think you're stealing money.  They not watching the prices of natural gas," he said.

The Mayor also says he thinks Joseph Lee should have a personal bodyguard.  That has been controversial lately and he said, today, that the MLGW executives should have given back their car allowances, just like the City Council did. 

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