MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At a Memphis City Council retreat this past weekend, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton spoke to council members off topic, going from the city budget to city contracts.
"The contracts flow through a number of executives before it reaches the mayor's desk," Herenton said.
He even handed out a sample contract showing other signatures that must be on the document for it to be valid.
"It has checks and balances," he said.
Why is Mayor Herenton discussing this now? He wouldn't say, other than to clear up misconceptions. Action News 5 has learned federal agents have been investigating Herenton's dealings with longtime friend Elvin Moon - a person who has benefited from the city of Memphis and its no bid contracts.
"Certain contracts and services are negotiated, not bidded," Herenton said. "That's not a requirement of the mayor. It is state law."
Council members seemed more focused on the budget than city contracts or the bidding process.
"That felt like a conversation that I was hearing but as not really a part of," council member Shea Flinn said.
Others see the mayor's talking points as a smart move politically. Dr Larry Moore is a U of M professor, a lawyer and political observer.
"The prosecutor's definitely going to give his reasons for why you did something, and nothing helps like having both sides of the story out there," Moore said.
Moore believes Herenton may be speaking to the jury pool that would have the power to hand down an indictment.
"If it's presented to a grand jury, then they already know where you are and your reasons for it," he said.
At the retreat, Herenton also mentioned furnishing his attendance records, as well as the city's public transportation entity - MATA - and how it is not part of the city of Memphis.