Jackson Defends Employee Parties; Ford Offers Pay Raise

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Ford (left), Jackson at Germantown Democrats meeting
  • JB
  • Ford (left), Jackson at Germantown Democrats' meeting
Employees of Shelby County government got some stroking this week from interim mayor Joe Ford, who promised that a general raise for employees, amount unspecified, would be included in a budget proposal that would not ask for tax increase.

Speaking to a meeting of the Germantown Democrats at Cordova Library on Wednesday night, Ford said more money would also be made available to the Health Department and to the Med. He said, again without specifying the amount, that Governor Phil Bredesen had assured him of adequate funding for the Med, and Ford estimated the hospital facility would be in line for another $7 million from funding included in the just-passed federal health-care bill.

Scoffing at skepticism on the subject from two other mayoral contenders, fellow Democrat Deidre Malone and Republican Mark Luttrell, Ford declared unequivocally, “We have saved the Med.”

Meanwhile, yet another mayoral candidate, General Sessions Court clerk Otis Jackson, who also spoke at the Germantown Democrats’ meeting, responded to criticism of his spending on employees of his office.

Jackson, who stands accused of prodigal spending on employee lunches and parties by county commissioner Mike Ritz, was unapologetic. As he said Wednesday night, the expenditures — including some $7,000 for holiday banquets in 2008 and 2009 — were compensations for his employees’ hard work, ways to “pat ‘em on the back” at a time when they had helped accomplish dramatic increases in office revenues while going without pay raises.

“Would I do it again? Yes,” Jackson said. Calculating that his employees had accounted for an increase of $3 million in collected fee revenues over the same two-year period as the parties and lunches cited by Ritz, Jackson minimized the expenditures by comparison saying, “That’s an average of $10 a year per employee.”

Ford took advantage of Wednesday night’s opportunity to repeat his opposition to, city/county consolidation and to unloose yet another blast at news media coverage. “As I’ve said before, you can believe about 20 percent of what you see on TV, and nothing of what you read in the newspaper,” he said.

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