Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Joe Saino's quest for transparency in Memphis

Joe Saino is doing extraordinary investigative work in Memphis worthy of the best journalist. The linked article is an excerpt from his piece in the Main Street Journal. If we had just a dozen more Joe Sainos around Tennessee we could all rest easier about our tax dollars. It just takes a little time, dogged persistence, and  a willingness to look powerful politicians right straight in the eye and say, "you are spending MY money and exercising the power I have delegated to you and I expect you to be accountable to ME."


November is a very significant month for me as it was three years ago in November 2004 when I started on my journey of enforcing the Tennessee open records laws on a reluctant group of local government institutions and quasi government bodies. I started with the City of Memphis by requesting from Sara Hall the information about how much had Allan Wade and his law firm been paid by the City and by the City Council during the years 2003 and 2004.

Sara acknowledged my open records request promptly and then never responded further until I filed suit in Chancery Court in February of 2005. Only then did I get the information.

Allan Wade has the best of both worlds. He is a part time employee of the City Council as their part time attorney and received at that time a salary of $58,000 per year plus of course the roll-up cost that all city employees receive. Also he is on the City pension system and has health insurance with the City paying 70% of the cost. His salary then was increased from $58,000 to $80,000 per year and in addition to that, he was paid $250,913.75 for legal fees in 2004 and had received $165,446.93 in 2005 up to March of that year.