Committee approves payment of Lee's legal bills

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MLGW President Jerry Collins urged a Memphis City Council committee Tuesday to approve the payment of his predecessor's $426,000 legal bill.

"We believe that this is the right thing to do," Collins said.

Council member Wanda Halbert grilled MLGW staffers for their practice of maintaining a list of people they would notify personally if their bill was late.

"I think Memphis Light, Gas, and Water had a responsibility to acknowledge the fact that this practice of making this list existed many years before Joseph Lee," Halbert said.

Edmund Ford, Sr. listened in on Tuesday's vote, where five council members voted in favor of paying Lee's bill, and three voted against it.

Ford had a problem with the vote.
"What they did in there today with that type vote, it needs to be stopped today. And I'm talking black and white," Ford said.

Ford alleged council members voted along racial lines.

"To give it to him, it was a fair thing," Ford said.

Earlier this year, Ford defeated federal charges that accused him of helping Lee with MLGW matters on the council in exchange for ignoring his bill.

When asked if he planned to seek payment for his legal bill, Ford said, "The Lord's been good to me and if I do something, I'm going to give it all back to the city."

He went on to add, "They ain't heard from me last.  This ain't the last they heard from me."

The vote on Lee's legal bill goes before the full council in two weeks.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.