Lawsuit Alleges Memphis City Council Illegally Gave Zoo Control of Greensward

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A photo of last Saturday's Greensward protest, during which the Memphis Zoo erected a fence to keep protesters away from the area where they planned to park cars. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • A photo of last Saturday's Greensward protest, during which the Memphis Zoo erected a fence to keep protesters away from the area where they planned to park cars.

A lawsuit filed in Chancery Court on Tuesday makes the claim that the Memphis City Council and council attorney Allan Wade violated the state's Open Meetings Act while developing a resolution and gaining votes for handing over Overton Park Greensward control to the Memphis Zoo on March 1st.

The lawsuit was filed by Susan Lacy and Stephen Humbert, two private citizens. It states that "on for before March 1, 2016, the members of the City Council directly and/or through City Council [Attorney] Allan Wade with input from [the Memphis Zoological Society] held discussions and deliberations outside of public view and without public notice on the Greensward controversy and developed a plan and resolution for action to be taken on the Greensward controversy by the Memphis City Council."

It criticizes the council for only posting the resolution regarding Greensward control on its website a few hours before the vote and says the council did not have "emergency or exigent circumstances" that would have required the council to "act with such haste."

Councilman Martavius Jones, the lone "no" vote, stated that, prior to the council meeting, Wade had called him to ask if he would co-sponsor the resolution. He agreed, in principle, but he didn't see a draft of the resolution until the public meeting.

The lawsuit makes the claim that council members met outside the public's view via telephone to privately discuss the resolution.




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