City Council, Mayor Wharton at odds over potential AutoZone purc - Montgomery Alabama news.

City Council, Mayor Wharton at odds over potential AutoZone purchase

(WMC-TV) - Concern is being expressed over the partnership between Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and the Memphis City Council after the council and Shelby County commissioners tabled the AutoZone Park deal.

Could this be a sign of a deeper issue?

This week's discussion on whether the city should buy AutoZone Park will make you wonder whether the city mayor and the city council are on the same team.

The city council says they were not privy to details of a deal to buy a ballpark until the bottom of the ninth.

"Should we risk the precious dollars we have on a baseball park?" asked Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland.

Some council members accuse Mayor A C Wharton and his administration of concocting a deal to buy the ballpark, and leaving them out of negotiations that have been going on for months.

"I think the arrogance is offensive," said Councilman Kemp Conrad as he slammed his notebook down. "It shows a lack of respect and it's hurting our city."


Memphis Flyer political columnist Jackson Baker has noticed an increasing level of mistrust of the Wharton administration among city council members.

"There are a lot of things done at the last minute with a lot of facts concealed or misrepresented even," added Jackson Baker, Memphis Flyer. "And consequently, things can't get done good or bad, we don't even know what the results will be."

Baker says one city hall insider admitted he misses the working relationship he had with former Mayor Willie Herenton.

"Told me the other day he has started telling people if Herenton should announce for mayor, I'd go door to door for him and this was not a Herenton fan," explained Baker.

Buying a ballpark is just one of several Wharton-backed proposals that have left council members questioning the city's leadership.

"But without basic trust and basic communication from the administration to the city council, I think as a city we're going to continue to lose ground," added Conrad.

City Director of Finance Brian Collins told council members purchasing Autozone Park will be a positive for the city and in the most likely case, will not cost the city anything.

Ultimately, the council approved an amendment cutting the price of AutoZone park to $15 million and trimming the costs of capital improvements from $5 million to $2.5 million.

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