Today, in Executive Session, the Memphis City Council met with Mayor Herenton concerning the problems facing the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, MSARC. MSARC has been in the news quite a bit over the past several weeks, after 2 area victims were turned away due to staffing issues. I wrote about this late last week, but the events of today’s Executive Session warrant another post.
The meeting began with some comments by the Mayor, but really heated up once the questions started flying. There were two moments when the hair on my arms and legs literally stood up. I livetweeted the meeting. What follows is a distillation of one of these two exchanges.
Strickland: You agree the health dept. should be funded by the Co. gov’t. MSARC fits hand in glove with Health Dept. model. What is different with MSARC?
Herenton: Hidden agendas on Council and County gov’t. Most people didn’t give a damn about victims. More interested in politics. Activists and media convoluted situation in a way that I resent.
Now, I understand that this is not a transcript, but audio will be on the Council site tomorrow or Thursday for confirmation. I’ve confirmed that this is essentially what was said by 3 different sources on the scene. This sounds like the Mayor is playing politics with MSARC. At the very least, he’s being inconsistent. The Health Department and Domestic Violence services are currently handled by the County, why not MSARC? Because politicians, activists and the media “convoluted the situation”? Are you serious?
After the Executive Session Council member Jim Strickland proposed moving MSARC to the County and also said he will propose to cut funding for MSARC, essentially leaving it for the County to administer. Yesterday, the County Commission rolled a proposal by Commissioner Mike Carpenter (@mikecarpenter1)to take responsibility for MSARC (Resolution (.pdf) Should Strickland’s actions pass, the road would be paved for the county to take over MSARC without Herenton’s approval.
Tonight, WMCTV will have more coverage of the meeting. I’ll update the post once that piece airs, and include a more comprehensive transcript once the audio is available on the City Council site. Below is the report from the 5pm broadcast.
You can read the live tweet of the meeting here.