Herenton chides suburban leaders for skipping annual dinner

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton says Shelby County's suburban mayors declared war earlier this week on him and his push for consolidation.

Once a year, municipal leaders gather for a dinner in Nashville to talk to their legislators. But this year - this week, in fact - all but one of Shelby County's suburban mayor's decided to have their own dinner on the same night, somewhere else. And Memphis Mayor Herenton says it's just bad politics.

"They want to promote separateness and I want to support unity," he says. The "they" he's talking about include Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy. She and four other mayors never showed up at an annual legislative dinner in Nashville Monday. Instead, the mayors held their own dinner.

But Goldsworthy says the no-show in Nashville had nothing to do with consolidation. At the same time, she admits that she and others are frustrated. While the mayor continues to complain they won't come to the table, Goldsworthy says it's because they've never been invited.

"I don't recall that there's ever been any discussion about it at all," she says.

She says Herenton hasn't called her or any of the other mayors to discuss it yet.

She adds Mayor Herenton's staff was notified well in advance about the dinner. But Herenton says he didn't know or was never told.

He says he plans to form an exploratory committee on consolidation soon... followed by a massive public information campaign.