Paging Dr. Freud! Was There Political Skullduggery at the Leadership Memphis Luncheon?


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Edith Moore
  • JB
  • Edith Moore
Justin Ford
  • Justin Ford
Thursday’s Leadership Memphis luncheon had just concluded at the Holiday Inn on Central Avenue, and Shelby County Commissioner Edith Moore, one of many office-holders who were present for the annual gala occasion, was furious about something.

“Did you hear that Freudian slip?” she asked a passerby, giving the adjective more of an English “oo” sound than the usual Germanic “oy.”

Asked to elaborate, she maintained that David Williams, president/CEO of Leadership Memphis and the moderator of the luncheon, had introduced interim Shelby County mayor Joe Ford by the wrong name.

And not just any wrong name. Williams, she insisted, had called Ford by the first name of “Justin.” And the problem with that — hence, her invocation of the great Viennese psychoanalyst and meister of unconscious motives — was that Justin Ford, son of the interim mayor, is her opponent in the May 4th Democratic primary, as he had been last December when the two were among the contestants for an appointment to fill a commission vacancy in District 3, Position 3.

In other words, Justin Ford had just gotten a free plug before a large blue-ribbon audience which was as deep in media types as it was in the politically influential. Or so Commissioner Moore was convinced.

A quest for corroboration of the alleged verbal slip yielded nothing until Memphis School Board member Tomeka Hart was asked if she had heard anything unusual in the way that county mayor Joe Ford was introduced.

“Yes!” Hart answered. “He was called Joseph, and I had never heard Joe called Joseph before.”

The late Dr. Freud being unavailable, the situation required a tiebreak of some other kind. Luckily, I had recorded the event and, playing it back at my leisure, heard this from impresario Williams as he had spoken from the dais: “…I’m going to introduce three people, and they’re going to come up in successive order, beginning with Mayor A C Wharton, mayor of the City of Memphis, followed by Joseph Ford, mayor of Shelby County, followed by Carol Coletta, the president and CEO of CEOs for Cities….”

Aha! So “Joseph” it was, not “Justin.” And if there was a Freudian element to the way the interim county mayor was introduced, it may have lain in Williams’ sense that, having omitted the honorific “Mayor” on the front end of Ford’s name, he could compensate by giving the formal version of the mayor’s first name.

Or not. Who knows? In any case, it would seem fairly clear that emcee Williams was fair-minded and not playing favorites in the District 3, Position 3 county commission race.

But it may say something for Commissioner Moore’s vigilance -- in a Freudian way or not -- that she heard what she heard.


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