That Mayor Willie Herenton won't debate is a vexation to opponent Herman Morris, as is the fact that the mayor apparently is willing this year to go without additional fundraisers or polling or possibly even conventional campaigning. But what really seems to get Morris' goat is that Herenton won't submit to a drug test. (Nor, for that matter, has anybody but Morris himself so far.)
A week ago, the former MLGW head issued a challenge to other mayoral candidates to submit to a drug test so as "to help assure the public that each one of us is healthy and fit to serve," as he put it in a follow-up press conference at his headquarters Friday.
Morris had his test Thursday and presumably passed it with flying colors - though he didn't divulge the results on Friday. The other candidates haven't been tested, and, Morris said Friday, "I can't understand why." Did he have reason to believe that one of them might flunk such a test? "I don't have a particular reason to believe it except they they all seem to be suspiciously avoiding it," he said. "It's not a big thing. If we request one of every employee in city government, we who desire to lead the city should at least be willing to lead by example."
Morris said the test should consist of a "battery of tests" that would measure either illegal drugs or legal prescription drugs - "anything that might impair your judgment or get you to act out of the norm."
"You can't lead by shadow-boxing," Morris said. "At some point, you have to step into the ring."
At the press conference, Morris announced that he would be an "easy access" mayor, with a listed phone number he might answer himself. He promised weekly public forums at city hall, regular monthly press conferences, open public records, and efforts to make available video streaming "live and real-time" of city meetings.
Asked what he might do about crime, Morris pledged greater collaboration with the Sheriff's Department and with the police agencies of other county municipalities. He expressed scorn of "eleventh-hour efforts and 59th-minute campaign initiatives" to clean up vacant lots and other eyesores and to close down crack houses.
He said he would be prepared as mayor to deal with "a new kind of crime," committed by criminals who were "younger, more gang-related and drug-ingested, more violent and callous in use of handguns."