Thaddeus Matthews to use signatures beyond recall

Volunteers looking to recall Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton likely won't have enough signatures by tomorrow's deadline.  Tonight, the recall leader - Thaddeus Matthews - says he's got other plans for the 45,000 signatures he's already gathered.

Thaddeus Matthews' big vision to have Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton recalled this year may not meet the mark.  But he's got big plans for the lists of signatures his volunteers have collected.

Already, he's been offered money for the list.  "I've had two politicians who was foolish enough to ask me that and i'm not going to reveal who they are right now but I don't think they'll ask me again," he says.

Instead, Matthews wants to use the list to support candidates who he - and others - think will bring change.  And there's nothing stopping him.

City Attorney Sara Hall says the signatures he turns over to the Election Commission become public record.  Those he doesn't turn over belong to him.  "To the extent that he takes certain portions of the recall and does not submit them, those are his personal property.  He presented them to individuals and they voluntarily gave their name and their address and now he can use it as he sees fit," she says.

This past weekend, Matthews' wrote on his web blog that, "the list that holds names and addresses of those who will vote against Willie will be GIVEN to the person who will best represent the entire community."

In an interview, Matthews told me that's not exactly what he meant.  "It will be given.  But i'm not talking about physically given in their hands.  They will never.  No politician will ever physically have possession.  They will be given names and addresses of persons who have worked in operation fed up and want a change in this city, but operation fed up will control that."

Matthews says those who signed will be contacted and asked if their names and addresses can be used.

He says letters will go out in the next two weeks.  As far as who Operation Fed Up will endorse, he says the group will hold forums and town hall meetings so that the people who signed the petitions can be part of the process.