Mayor criticizes term limits plan

Memphis City Council members debated a new plan Tuesday that would impose term limits on all elected City officials.

Joe Brown was the biggest Council critic.

"Something strange is really going on here.  Something is wrong with this picture," he said, hinting at politics and some other unspoken conspiracy.  Brown says term limits make no sense.

"If the citizens, the constituents that we serve decide that we're unelectable, then they're not going to vote for you.  They're definitely not going to vote for you, that's for sure," says Brown.

But the proposal - pitched by long-serving Councilman Jack Sammons - cleared its first reading.

"People in my district are saying we've got it at the County.  Why don't we have it at the City.  We're tired of all this corruption.  Here, we've got another indictment today of a former elected official.  I think the public has lost confidence in the system," says Sammons.

Outside the committee room, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said he doesn't agree and he thinks the public is with him.  "I believe that the citizens of Memphis, if given the opportunity to vote on the matter, would vote a resounding no."

Herenton also blamed politics on the Council and a growing public sentiment to control the administration.

"I think there are some people in this community that would like for Memphis to go back to the old Memphis and there's a new Memphis.  They must respect the demographic changes that have taken place in this community."

He says there are hidden agendas in the political marketplace and this term limits effort - he says - is one of them.

Jack Sammons was quick to point out that this is a work in progress and that there will be an opportunity for Council members to bring input to the process.  He also made clear that if it's adopted as written it will not actually affect anyone for eight years.  This is not - he says - a "911 call."

They will debate it at their third meeting.  If the Mayor vetoes it - which is expected - the Council will have just enough time to override that veto and get it on the November ballot.  That's if there are enough votes to do so on the Council.