City Employees Take Aim At Chamber Of Commerce - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

City Employees Take Aim At Chamber Of Commerce

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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Angry city employees have taken aim at the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce after city council approved controversial budget cuts last week.

Amid the chaos last week it happened. Councilwoman Wanda Halbert tried to stop approval of the minutes of the council's meeting before a final vote was taken on the city budget cut proposals.

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Although the angry audience didn't seem to know it the moment those minutes were approved the door slammed shut on a legislative "re-do."

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Appearing none the worse for wear after emerging unscathed from a fender-bender over the weekend Mayor A C Wharton once again reiterated what's beginning to sound like the proverbial "broken record" in regards to the city council passage of the city budget on June 17.

"If somebody comes in with a plan that will accomplish the same things then I will gladly endorse that plan," Mayor Wharton said.

"I think the good thing is the city is moving in the right direction to try to deal with these problems forthrightly, because to ignore them leads to a situation none of us wants Memphis to be in," said David Lillard, Tennessee Treasury Commissioner.

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At this point, even trying to apply some Roberts Rules of Order mumbo-jumbo to the 7-5 vote won't force a "do-over" since it was a final reading of the proposal and the minutes of the meeting were approved before the vote was taken. But, of course that hasn't stopped enraged city employees from verbally attacking Mayor Wharton, the agonized council members who voted for passage and the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, whose membership may become the target of a proposed boycott as alleged "co-conspirators" in supporting the cuts to city employee and retiree benefits.

"If they're going to want to play politics then we need to let them understand that this effects the citizenry," said Michael Williams. Memphis Police Association President. "They don't know what's best for the citizens. They should be focusing on the business community."

(But, the health and welfare of Memphis business is the chamber's business. They too were fully aware of the consequences of inaction on the billion dollar city pension deficit might mean in the long term to the fiscal solvency of a community trying to attract more jobs than those those whose paycheck comes from city hall.

An added increase in property taxes, as Bush 41 once said, "Bad ... bad."
 
"In their recruitment efforts the one thing just standing in the way is," Mayor Wharton said. "Hey look, Mississippi and places around you the taxes are lower. We're in a recession. Just coming out of a recession and the chamber's getting that message loudly and clearly."

Yet, while a sequel to budget armageddon doesn't look feasible, it doesn't mean other things couldn't be done toward moving to a happier resolution for all.

"I'd like for us to find that solution," said Roby williams, Greater Memphis Chamber board member. "This is not over. There is a more perfect solution, than I think, we currently have. Let's seek that out. But, inflammatory rhetoric will not help at all in this matter."

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce boasts membership that includes nearly all of the biggest businesses in the community. There's no word yet on just how many might be willing to participate in any boycott of the myriad of places listed on the chamber's directory.

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