City council attendance in question - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City council attendance in question

Samuel Chisom is like most employed people.  He's expected to show up for work.

"If I don't, they get rid of you," says Chisom.

He says he expects the same thing from his city council.

"They ran for the job, and they're just supposed to show up," says Chisom.

But some council members "show up" more than others.

"We only meet, you know, the first and third Tuesday," says councilman E.C. Jones.

Jones says he has never missed a regular meeting in 12 years.

"I think voters and people in your district would expect you to be there," says Jones.

I wanted to check his record and the records of all 13 council members.  Keeping up with committee meeting attendance is pretty easy.  It's kept on the city web-site.  Digging into regular meeting attendance from the past few years required us to visit the basement of city hall and the council records office.  We got records dating back six years, to the year 2000.

Veteran council members Tom Marshall and Jack Sammons have missed the most meetings with 18 and 17 absences respectively.  Brent Taylor comes in with the third worst attendance at 11 missed meetings.

By comparison, E-C Jones was right--he's missed no meetings.  Edmund Ford and Barbara Swearengen Holt have both missed just one meeting each.

Councilman Taylor could NOT argue with what we uncovered.  He spoke on behalf of the others who have missed the most meetings.

"We regret that we've missed meetings in the past, and that's something we don't want to do," says Taylor.

But, Taylor says it's difficult to have perfect attendance when you also have a full-time job.

"We're going to have this inherent conflict of trying to balance responsibilities of our full-time job with those of our part-time position," says Taylor.

Councilman Jones says he knew the commitment when he came on board.

"When we all ran for office, we knew it was going to be twice a month," says Jones.

Samuel Chisom believes those who continually miss meetings should take his advice.

"Come to work," says Chisom.  "Do what you're supposed to do!"  he adds.

For perspective, there have been more than 160 regular meetings over the last six years.  We only counted the attendance of those who have sat on the council the entire time.  Three have been elected since 2000.

Here is the breakdown of the absences we found:

Brittenum:  0  (elected 2006)
Brown:  8
Chumney:  2  (elected 2004)
Ford:  1
Holt:  1
Jones:  0
Lowery:  6
Marshall:  18
McCormick:  0  (elected 2004)
Peete:  3
Sammons:  17
Taylor:  11
Mitchell:  6

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