It was a sharp accusation that for a brief time derailed Tuesday morning's crucial Memphis City Council budget meeting.
But, was it true?
Councilwoman Janis Fullilove said she had been told of an alleged secret meeting between some council members and Tennessee State Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville).
Memphis budget battle blame game
The alleged purpose was to talk about the possibility of Memphis dissolving its charter.
In this day and age nearly everybody seems susceptible to believing in governmental conspiracy theories. So, when a state representative related one such story to Councilwoman Fullilove and she relates it to a roomful of already on-edge politicians, stand back and watch the feathers fly.
Dodo feathers that is.
"That there were certain council members that met with Mark Norris in Collierville," Fullilove said.
(It was one of those distracting bits of rumor and gossip more suited for talking about over a backyard clothesline than a boardroom. But, for the impassioned councilwoman it served as a reinforcement of a popular and widely held conspiracy theory.
So, turn on the switch to the "truth-o-meter." Now, what was the purpose of this cabal?
"To go against our mayor, to go against this city and sit up and be in collusion with somebody who sits up in Nashville and refers to us as 'Little Nigeria,' and who thinks that we're going to give up our charter," Fullilove said. :"I'm saying it's alleged. If that happened?"
"It's false Janis!" Councilman Shea Flinn said.
"I'm not talking to you!," Fullilove retorted.
"But you are talking about me," Flinn said.
"I'm not talking about you!," Fullilove said.
But, before you cut, print and send Fullilove's tidbit to your favorite blogger, you'd better check with the alleged key players in this mysterious scenario. FOX13 News did.
"I was alleged to have had lunch in Collierville with Shea Flinn and Kemp Conrad and then Jim Strickland comes in halfway through the lunch," Sen. Norris told FOX13 News. "No, it didn't happen."
"That's just not true," Councilman Flinn added. "To bring that up and go on that tirade is just a strawman. We don't have time for this nonsense."
Is there a grain of truth in this story, senator?
"Coincidentally, I had lunch with Councilman Strickland just yesterday, Monday, at the Little Tea Shop," Sen. Norris said. "The irony is we'd been trying to have lunch together, Jim and I, for months - if not years."
As for what the duo talked about, Sen. Norris confirmed Councilman Strickland bounced some ideas off him about the budget proposal the Democrat was going to present to the full council. No city charter dropping. No "Little Nigeria" slur. Nothing politically unsavory. Only some vocal encouragement from the State senate majority leader.
"Memphis isn't the only city in the country that's facing difficult times," Sen. Norris said. "But, they can get the better of it, if they just put their shoulder to the wheel and I think that's what they're doing."
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