Herenton uses push of button to begin summer jobs lottery - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Herenton uses push of button to begin summer jobs lottery

No more standing in line. Tuesday, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton promised a more fair application process for summer jobs for teens.

Herenton said he wants to prevent a scene like in 2006, when thousands of students lined up for the Summer Youth Employment Program.

Parents later cried nepotism, saying jobs were only made available to family and friends of school employees.

So, with the push of a button Tuesday morning, the mayor set off a random computer lottery to pick students for summer jobs.

The Memphis City Council allotted more than $1 million to employ 1,100 students this summer. But, more than 6,300 applied.

"There should be thousands of jobs for summer youth.  I've got to challenge this business community to step up and to invest more substantially into the work ethics of young people," Herenton said.

When the council cut money for summer jobs in 2006, Memphis saw a spike in youth crime, from killings to robberies.

"Ladies and gentleman of the city of Memphis, where there's no hope, there's no remorse," special assistant Sara Lewis said.

Lewis, a former educator and longtime school board member, said the investment is worth it.

"So go the youth of the city of Memphis, so goes Memphis," Lewis said.

The students begin work June 1st. More than 5,000 are still on the waiting list.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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