SPECIAL TO THE FLYER
-- After six years with Memphis Light Gas & Water, CEO Herman Morris was given his walking papers Monday morning. In a closed meeting with Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and MLGW Board Chair Dr. James Netters, Morris was told he would not be re-appointed.
By Wednesday, Morris had only informed top staff he would be leaving.
City Councilman E.C. Jones, who heads up the Council's General Services, Utilities and Communications committee said appointments - and non-renewals - are within the Mayor's purview but pointed out that Christmas might not have been the best time to break the news.
"The only problem I have is maybe the timing," Jones said. "But I realize the new term starts on January 1st and the Mayor does not have a lot of time to advise those people that he's not going to reappoint them."
Netters said the Mayor was complimentary in the Monday meeting, warning the two that the news might not be so well-received.
"It was such a shock to me," said Netters, who also expressed concern over the future of the utility's Board itself. Herenton told Netters he was still awaiting the results of a charter review before making a decision about the Board, but mentioned he had no one in mind to replace the current board members.
There are no official candidates to replace Morris either, although that has been the source of some political scuttlebutt, with some sources hinting that Roland McElrath, a former Memphis schools administrator is in the running.
Netters said during his 20-year tenure on the Board, he has been tapped to fill the top spot on an interim basis. But he said the Mayor hasn't suggested that as a possibility in this instance, perhaps because of Netters' own plans to retire within the first six months of 2004.
Herenton first turned up the heat on Morris at a December 2nd Council committee meeting. Councilmembers were debating a rate-hike, but the Mayor stole the show, decrying MLGW administration and hinting that change was in the wind.
first broke this story on WMC-TV Action News Five
. This version is expressly for the Flyer
, courtesy of the station.)