Herenton talks about Joseph Lee, re-election

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton says he's not done yet.  Tonight, he sounds off about Joseph Lee's resignation attempt and what's next in the MLGW political power investigation.

Action News 5's Anna Marie Hartman sat down for a one-on-one with Mayor Herenton.

Mayor Willie Herenton is candid and confident about his upcoming relection campaigning, his decision to let Joseph Lee remain president of MLGW and geting to the bottom of the sky-rocketing costs of energy in Memphis.

In the next few months Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton will complete his 16th year in office. He turn 67-years-old and he'll kick off a record setting re-election campaign.

"I'm ready they can just bring it on I'll be ready," he said.

In the meantime, the mayor is doing damage control after recent fallout at MLGW. Last week, he refused to accept the resignation of Joseph Lee, the utilility president he hand picked.

"He said, 'Mayor Herenton I don't want to be a problem.' He said, 'I will do the right thing if that's what you are asking me to do.' He said, 'I will resign.'," Herenton explained.

But Lee may not be out of the woods yet.

While the FBI and the City Council investigate allegations of preferential treatment practices at the utility, the mayor plans to do some investigating of his own.

Starting next week, he will order a detailed analysis of the MLGW's billing and assessment practices.

"If there are any material facts that substantiate some of the notions that something was done criminally or wrong, then the ball is in my court," he said.

And if that investigation proves that customers have been unfairly charged? "Then, I think every consideration should be given to returning some kind of monetary return to the customers," he said.

Restoring the public trust in the utility, which has been justifiably shaken, is critical, he says. "Most people say perception is reality and you know what I counter them with? No, it's not cause. Perception may be wrong, [but] reality is reality."

Herenton says the platform for his relection campaign will be the progress in Memphis over the last 15 years he's been in office.

But he readily admits MLGW will play heavily into this election and how his opponent Herman Morris handled himself while he was president of the utility.


to send Anna Marie Harman an email.