Memphis watchdog questions MLGW contributions

A 20 thousand dollar donation to the Conference of Black Mayors is only one of many MLGW contributions.

Memphis watchdog Joesph Saino says, "Its a tragic situation I mean there are lots of people out there who couldn't afford to pay their gas bills this winter and won't be able to afford he air conditioning bills this summer."

Former MLGW board member Joe Saino requested records of the utility's charitable contributions dating back to 2004. Among them: a 13-thousand dollar donation to the Sisterhood Showcase annual expo.
8-thousand dollars to the Memphis Business Journal for an awards banquet, 5-thousand dollars to the Latino Memphis Fiesta, 3-thousand dollars to Playhouse on the Square's production of Peter Pan.

According to the utility, several department heads including president Joseph Lee have sponsorship money to spend. Each can choose the charity and the expense no matter what the amount.

MLGW spokesperson Chris Stanley says, "Budgets are set annually at MLGW and of course those budgets are approved by the board of commissioners and approved by the city council every year."

But Saino say many of those pet projects share a common denominator.

Saino continues, "It seems targeted to friends of the mayor or friends of Joseph Lee which is the same thing."

Saino says its inappropriate to spend company money on anything BUT reducing rates for the customers.