Council members say ethics pledge cards not the answer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee


Council members say ethics pledge cards not the answer

In a letter recently sent by newspaper columnist Wendi Thomas to every member of the Memphis City Council, she asked the council to make specific pledges about their ethics and their conduct.

The appeal to council members was not well-received.

"I appreciate what the lady's trying to do," said council member E. C. Jones. "But I'm not gonna sign it."

Thomas' letter outlines ethics reform in other similar cities, and it asks each Council member to sign a "pledge" card, making a commitment to the public that until ethics reform is a done deal, they will not do certain things.

The letter asks that council members pledge not to accept anything more than $25.00 in a single year from anyone with business before the council, and that they not let those people help council members with personal financial affairs.

It also asks them to pledge they will pay their own way into sporting events.

"I didn't sign a pledge to Wendi Thomas," said council member Jack Sammons. "I took an oath of office, and I have a commitment to the constituents who I serve. That's who I make my pledge to every four years when I've been elected."

In her letter, Wendi Thomas promised to publish Council responses in an upcoming column.

But at a Tuesday council meeting, one Thomas attended, the Council's chairwoman, Tajuan Stout Mitchell, spoke for the group.

She gave Thomas a letter saying Council ethics are already addressed by the Council oath, and that state lawmakers are drafting new laws right now. The letter also said a council committee will later look at possible changes to the current ethics ordinance.

But as for Wendi Thomas' pledge cards...

"I appreciate Ms. Thomas' pledge, but it's just that, a pledge," Mitchell said. "It's not binding. And I think our public wants us to have something that is more legally binding."

Thomas had comment on Tuesday, saying she'll post her own response in her column.

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