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This is no time for petty political fights: lead – or get out of the way

Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on budget battles in Shelby County.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County is smack in the middle of fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has also had the effect of applying a blow torch to our local economy. But the work of government must go on. And we need clear thinking and tempered emotions. So why are elected county officials squabbling like school yard juveniles?

County Mayor Lee Harris proposed a $1.4 billion budget for fiscal 2021. But the county commission Wednesday used that same blow torch on the mayor’s proposal and added a few unnecessary insults while doing it. After scrapping the mayor’s plan, commissioners preliminarily agreed to revive the 2020 budget – and make modifications to it – to come up with a workable agreement.

Naturally, Harris and his team were outraged. Which was part of the plan, particularly by commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. – who never misses a chance to show his disgust with the mayor. Ford called Harris’ budget garbage, and added a few other personal insults. He even again brought up the fact that Harris supported a candidate who ran against Ford’s father in last year’s city council election.

The mayor got in a few digs of his own against Ford. But the whole thing was a total embarrassment. This is no time for petty political fights. People are dying. Others have lost their jobs. We need our elected leaders to lead - or get out of the way. And that’s my point of view.

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