Council could appoint Herenton after recall

Action News Five set out to find out exactly what will happen if the Mayor is recalled and we found that - at least according to some people - the charter would let the Council put the Mayor right back in office, even if the people want him out.

If this band of volunteers succeeds, if Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is recalled, the City Charter might be your crystal ball.

"I think it's all spelled out very clearly about what happens next," says longtime City Council Attorney Allan Wade.

He says the charter has specific instructions about what happens after a Mayor is recalled.

The office is vacated immediately.  The City Council Chairperson, in this case, Tajuan Stout Mitchell, becomes acting Mayor for twenty days.  Council members will spend that time picking an interim Mayor to fill the job until the next election.

And if one of the Council members wants to become interim Mayor for a year, he or she will have to resign his council post to do it.

"You can appoint a successor but not one of the council members.  The Mayor can be reappointed," says Wade.

What?  Shocked?  We were shocked too.  But Wade says that even if a majority of city residents votes to recall Mayor Herenton, the City Council could turn right around and put him back in office a week later.

"There's no prohibition that prevents him from being reappointed," he says.

It's fuel to the fire for recall leader Thaddeus Matthews.  "I would serve notice on Willie Herenton and I would serve notice on those council members who would vote to allow that to happen that next year is an election year for them and we'll bring the full force of Operation FedUp against any council member that would vote for that madness."

The Mayor has said repeatedly he doesn't want to talk about the recall effort.  But he did tell us last week that, no matter what, he plans to be on the ballot in 2007.