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PBA, HOOPS Take Hits from Commission

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"The Public Building Authority was supposed to be a non-political body. But instead it turned out to be the most political body I've ever seen -- from the moment of its formation on." So said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter during a meeting of the commission's special Ad Hoc Committee on the FedEx Forum Tuesday afternoon.

The commission heard testimony from a variety of witnesses, including businessman Ron Redwing, who said the PBA had functioned as a "rubber stamp" for an unspecified power group.

Later, as one of several state Senate hopefuls interested in interim service in District 30 (vacated by congressman-elect Steve Cohen) and interviewed by the commission, former city attorney Robert Spence underwent heated questioning from Commissioner Mke Ritz concerning his apparent approval of a contract whereby a state grant for a public parking garage was allegedly circumvented for its use by HOOPS, management organization of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Commissioner Henri Brooks charged during Spence's questioning that the contract was approved by "the powers that be that don't look like him" -- an apparent reference to the fact that Spence is African American.

--Jackson Baker

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