Mayor Willie Herenton went before the City Council's executive committee today to update them about the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center.
He told them he would not turn MSARC over to county government and that MSARC was still a national model.
Selected remarks from his comments after the jump.
[Again, these are selected comments. I've cut things for clarity.]
"I'm responsible to the council and that’s why I’m here today. In the myriad responsibilities I have — it may surprise you to know that — never visited MSARC. It doesn’t mean it is not important. It is quite important.
"I’ve never seen a perfect organization.
"The leader has got to take responsibility for the performance or non performance of his or her subordinates. That’s what a CEO does.
"I was not moved by the television appearances of some of the council members. I was not moved by the private interests groups. I was not moved by any segment of this community.
"The MSARC organization, I know a lot about this center now. I didn’t before.
"This controversy forced me to find out what it does. It is a nationally recognized model. It has been and it still is. I do not accept anyone's assessment that a national model program is no longer there. I reject any notion of that.
"Does MSARC face some challenges? Of course, it does.
"Thank god for Le Bonheur. The new partnership that we'll forge ahead will add immensely to an already nationally recognized program. You couldn’t have a better partner.
"In my best assessment, and my best judgment, the client population served by MSARC will be better served by maintaining MSARC as an entity of city government. That’s a decision after a lot of assessment, a lot of analysis.
"That’s the decision I have made and that’s a firm decision. With Le Bonhuer being a partner, it reinforces the commitment to this program.
"I disagree with you that this ought to be transferred to the county.
"I do regret that my office was not shown proper respect. I don’t care about people liking me but I care about people respecting me.
"I don’t question anyone’s agenda, but I’ll tell you what mine is: Maintaining an entity for rape victims. That is my only motivation. I'm not here to assess blame.
"As Mr. Obama said, the reason I hadn’t spoken was because I didn’t have the facts. I don’t want to bore you with my overall assessment but there was a cultural change, a management change that impacted MSARC. There was personnel issues.
"It’s called human behavior.
"It serves no useful
person purpose (sorry, bad muscle memory) for me to go back.
"How do we move forward and maintain a quality program?
"Several weeks ago, people wanted to talk about [public services director] Ken Moody and [deputy director] Yolanda McFadgon. I have respect for all personnel and if I think there is reason, I discipline people. If I think there is no reason, I don’t discipline people. That’s my call.
"Another issue: Why didn’t someone answer Bill Gibbons’ letter? He will get a full response and it will come from the mayor.
"I couldn’t respond to him at that particular time beause I did not have the facts.
"I feel comfortable with the information I have now. There may be some organizational changes in the future but I will make that decision.
"Whether or not it will be going to the county, I’ve already made that decision. It won’t be going to the county."
"The city of Memphis has continuously provided quality care for the city and the overall region.
"If these issues arose in fire or police services, would those services be moved to the county? Of course not.
"True leaders do not punt their challenges to others."
Council members are currently asking the mayor questions.