Insults fly in heated Memphis City Council discussion over chairman vote

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Things got heated between Memphis City Councilmen Martavius Jones and Edmund Ford Sr. as council voted for a new chairperson this week.

Councilmen Frank Colvett and Jones were both nominated for the title, which seemed to visibly upset Ford, triggering the outbursts.

 “Ok, and you got b***hole problems, don’t you?” Ford told Jones at one point, cutting him off in the discussion. 

When Councilman JB Smiley asked if Colvett and Jones could have the opportunity to say a few words before council made its decision, Ford responded, “that don’t work. No.”

During the meeting, Ford said he believed Colvett should get the title since he was already vice-chair. However, Jones said he believed the position should be earned, not given.

“It shouldn’t be an automatic role of ascension to the role of chair to vice-chair because if it was, Mr. Ford, Edmund Ford Jr. would’ve been the council chair in 2017,” Jones said. The senior Ford returned to council after his son, Edmund Ford Jr., moved to a county commission seat.

Colvett won the chairman role by eight votes, but the mentioning of Ford’s son set Ford off.

“Don’t ever go there with me and my family,” he said. “My son or anybody else. Do not go there anymore. You keep your comments to yourself.”

Microphones were eventually muted but that didn’t stop Ford.

“My mic is off but he’s a little short-ass man,” Ford said.

Jones said he is not offended by Ford’s comments.

“I know who I am. I’m a confident man,” Jones said. “There was no back and forth. I maintained my composure and was conscious to do so because I know I represent more than 300,000 people in Memphis.”

Jones said this isn’t the first time Ford has had outbursts.

Councilman Smiley officially filed a complaint against Ford, questioning his ethical conduct, and proposed banning councilmembers from making personal and slanderous remarks during meetings.

“Since we represent not only ourselves but also the people, there is a certain level of decorum the people deserve,” Smiley said in a letter. “To that point, all of my colleagues would like to serve in a non hostile environment free of animus. With that in mind, I do not want this to be a situation where the citizens of Memphis believe they have been left out of the discussion or they lack the power to effect change concerning this issue. I believe our policies and rules concerning elected leaders should be powered by the people. My hope is that those hearing this and who have read the letter will let their voices be heard. Email and call your city council members and tell them how you feel.”

Memphis City Council current members

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