Our Government Inaction*
Everyone already thinks Memphis and Shelby County are run by a bunch of crooks. But what's happening now just takes the cake. I defy you to find something so abhorrent in any of your hometowns.
Apparently, Herman Morris, the former president of our utility company had a "LIST." The LIST included the names of people in town, mostly govt & corporate officials, who were to be notified first if their utilities were to be disconnected. (Mr. Morris, BTW, is now challenging our long-seated mayor, so of course the current utility president, Joseph Lee, - who was appointed by said mayor - is dumping the entire responsiblity of this crisis into Mr. Morris's lap...but that's probably a whole other scandal. We'll save it for another day.)
Somewhere along the line, where, exactly, is still being debated, the people on the LIST have become excused from actually paying their utility bills.
All this came to light when our daily paper, The Commercial Appeal, broke a story that City Councilman Edmund Ford owed more than $16,000 in past utility bills for his home and his company.
[I might add that the Ford family is notoriously involved in some scandal or another. Most recently State Senator John Ford was indicted in the Operation Tennessee Waltz, an FBI sting operation. As far as I'm concerned, Harold Ford Jr. is the only decent one in the bunch. But I digress.]
So now we have several hundred large business with balances over $5,000 that are more than 30 days past due, including:
International Paper - $9,524.76
Muvico Theaters (owned by the Jack Belz, whose name was on the LIST) - $18,331.38
NorthWest Airlines - $12,459.95
Memphis Publishing Company (publisher of The Commercial Appeal) - $79,763.27
AUTOZONE (owned by Pitt Hyde, also of the LIST) - $47,919.98
And how about these city properties?
Memphis Department of Public Works - $285,806.16
Memphis Cook Convention Center - $801,205.04
Memphis Housing Authority - $324,985.75
I think I understand now why my bill is $500 a month. Someone's having to pick up the slack for all these non-paying companies. But wait...here's the part that gets really appalling.
These small business are examples of small firms who had their services disconnected in the last 30 days for having these amounts in arrears:
Kings Kids learning Center - $222.54
On Time Learning Academy - $521.25
Horn Lake Ready Mix - $610.07
Thomas Auto Sales - 4793.86
All American Steel - $629.08
Big Boy Rims and Tires - $191.07
Tax Express - $136.57
The Next Phase Barber and Beauty - $95.74
Vision Ten Inc. - $86.43
1,300 residents also had their services disconnected in the last 30 days. Because obviously Ms. Irma down in Binghampton who's trying to survive on her social security check doesn't really need heat as much as Jack Belz and Pitt Hyde do. It makes me sick. It absolutely makes me sick.
One controversial Memphis blogger is suggesting a class action law suit to prevent the utility company from cutting off anyone until the practice of disconnection is administered fairly and equally for ALL customers.
If they were my PR client, I would definitely recommend that Joseph Lee just go ahead and enter rehab. I'm pretty sure that's the only way out of this clusterfuck.
* My apologies to Jon Stewart
Labels: govt scandals