MLGW vows to be more open about legal matters

Legal troubles were a main topic of discussion Thursday at a board meeting at Memphis Light Gas and Water meeting.

Officials at MLGW told the utility's board of commissioners that the division deals with as many as 200 legal matters at any given time.  In the future, officials said, they plan to be more open about what lawyers they're using and how much they are getting paid.

The utility's board agreed to begin submitting any legal bill in excess of $25,000 to the Memphis City Council for approval. They are not required to do this, but agreed to after a recent request by City Council Chairman Tom Marshall, in an effort to create more transparency.

Currently, the division uses at least 15 local law firms to address their legal problems.

"We don't have the budget to maintain a staff large enough with the expertise to handle the wide variety of litigation, for example, that the division has, and it's not just litigation," said MLGW Interim Counsel Charlotte Knight.

Those other legal matters include regulatory issues, contract negotiations and patent issues.

Board members said the push for transparency is a good faith effort on behalf of the utility to be more open to the public and other governmental agencies.

It's also an attempt to restore the public's trust in the utility.

to email Anna Marie Hartman.