Council may again consider paying Lee's legal bills

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - There's a new pitch to pay Joseph Lee's legal fees, and it's coming from an unexpected source.

Two weeks ago, Memphis City Council members voted down paying former the former MLGW president's legal bill.  A resolution to pay more than $426,000 in bills failed by a vote of 6 to 6.

Two weeks later, before the minutes of that meeting were passed - and with the issue dead - current utility president Jerry Collins asked that Lee's legal fees be reconsidered on behalf of ratepayers.

"In the interest of minimizing the ultimate financial impact on our ratepayers, I would like the Joseph Lee legal fees issue taken off the minutes for this evening and sent back to committee," Collins said, addressing Council members.

Some immediately refused, but then Collins spoke again, this time of a possible compromise.

"We're going to go back to Robert Spence to see if there is some middle ground," he said.

Middle ground - something City Council Chairman Myron Lowery tried to achieve two weeks ago but failed.  Next time, however, it could pass.
"We've got council members at both ends of the spectrum.  Some want the full amount, $426,000.  Some want nothing.  I think we ought to meet in the middle, and my figure was $275,000," Lowery said.

Many think Lowery was the deciding vote that night, and could be the deciding vote when the issue is brought up again. For Lowery it wasn't the hourly rate he had a problem with.

"My concern was the total number of hours charged for the defense in this case," he said.

That reasoning could mean enough council votes to pass a compromise agreement to pay Lee's legal fees.