Could federal raids affect Nov 21 Pre-K vote? - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Could federal raids affect Nov 21 Pre-K vote?

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Thursday's raid of several Memphis area day cares and businesses happened one week before a special Nov. 21 election to consider raising the sales tax to pay for Pre-K education.

Were the raids timed to influence Memphis voters to support raising the sales by a half percent?

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Rev. Ralph White of the Memphis Empowerment Initiative says yes but he doesn't have the facts to support his suspicions.

But it is his suspicions, perhaps politically motivated, that federal and local authorities would publicly go after day centers accused of fraud.

"I wouldn't put anything past them," he said. "They're desperate people. They tried to pass this tax last year. The citizens refused it."

Rev. White said day care centers would be hurt if the Nov. 21 ballot initiative is passed because parents would enroll their children in a Pre-K program. In his opinion the raid was done to discredit minority-owned day care centers by focusing on the alleged problems of a few owners.

Rev. White believes that would give a negative impression of day care centers to voters, who will decide it's worth paying a half of a percentage more on the sales tax to fund an alternative.

There is one major problem with this train of thought. Rev. White does not have any concrete facts to back up his suspicions.

"No except that is what I feel," he said. "We have seen these things happen before."

Proponents of the sales tax referendum Were livid when FOX13 News asked them for a response, calling Rev. White's allegations absurd and divisive.

"We brought our facts. They are bringing us this nonsense," said Memphis Councilman Shea Flinn. "It is mudslinging. I mean they have no basis for this. This is ironic and that's not the actual proper use of the word.  They are just trying to derail an effort to educate children."

Critics of the sales tax referendum say they plan a media blitz of sorts on Monday. They will hold a news conference Nov. 18 to make their case on local radio stations. There is a debate scheduled between the two sides as well Monday evening at the Benjamin Hooks library.

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