Memphis City Council Tackles Rape Kit Backlog and Smart Meters

Memphis City Council Tackles Rape Kit Backlog and Smart Meters

There was a large crowd on hand at the August 20, 2013 meeting of the Memphis City Council
MEMPHIS, TN – The August 20, 2013 meeting of the Memphis City Council was a long one with lots of important items on the agenda.

One that received a lot of attention—the backlog of rape kits in Memphis and Shelby County.

Localmemphis.com reported on a $500,000 grant the Memphis Police Department received from the Office of Criminal Justice on Monday August 19, 2013.

When Police Director Toney Armstrong went before city council to urge them to accept the grant they were surprised by the number of rape kits still on the shelf.

Councilman Kemp Conrad was so taken aback he proposed appropriated an additional $2.5 million out of the city’s reserve fund to assist in the backlog screenings.

“This has been out there since 2010,” said Conrad, “I was not aware there was this many kits sill out there or city council would have acted on this. This is a public safety issue; we need to act immediately.”

Councilman Shea Flinn was also angry over the rape kit backlog, and supported Conrad’s proposal.

“Normally I am quite a critic of dealing with our fiscal responsibility issues,” said Flinn, “but let me make it clear, I will raise taxes to get this taken care of. This is outrageous.”

While Conrad wanted the money appropriated immediately, the issue was pushed back two weeks until the next council meeting.

The other issue touching an emotional chord in many Memphians was the proposal to approve 60,000 smart meters for MLGW.

A large crowd carrying signs protesting the meters were in city council chambers; many of them addressing the council.

Most said they did not trust the meters, that they could cause disease,; be used to spy on homeowners; and did not provide a proper return on the investment.

In the end, council passed the smart meter resolution at a cost of $10.1 million.

The vote was 9-4 in favor; Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert, Joe Brown and Lee Harris voted against the meters.

Arthur Everett, who was among those protesting the meters, said: “City Council did not listen to the people. The people do not want these meters. This is wrong. They work for us, not the other way around.”

The council did shoot down a nine dollar opt out fee for anyone not wanting a smart meter on their home.

Everett vowed the battle wasn’t over; that he and others, who distrust the smart meters, will keep fighting.

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