MLGW: Where is the Press and Suburban Partnership?
Local & National News | March 25, 2024
It does not exist in the Tennessee General Assembly. And where is the local press reporting on this important bill? | Written By: Joe B Kent

Written By: Joe B Kent

Recently on March 6th, MLGW Board Commissioner Carl Person reached out to suburban municipals by discussing adding their voting representation to the MLGW Board. This discussion supplements Doug McGowen's support for suburban representation on the MLGW Board. Since taking the helm at MLGW, McGowen has moved swiftly to fill vacant suburban non-voting board seats (Daily Memphian). 

However, on March 12, in the Tennessee General Assembly Business and Utilities subcommittee of Collierville's Kevin Vaughan's Chaired Commerce Committee, HB34, the landlord tenant act, failed. HB34 was supported by the City of Memphis, Shelby County Government and MLGW. Robert Knecht representing the City and Erika Sugarmon representing the County testified before the committee. But for whatever reason, MLGW sent no one to testify before the Business and Utilities subcommittee, although the MLGW administration is on MLGW Board meeting record supporting the bill (TN. General Assembly). 

Commerce Chairman Kevin Vaughan offered no supporting remarks for home rule HB34 as it died in his Commerce subcommittee. Where is the collaborative reciprocating suburban partnership with the City of Memphis? It does not exist in the Tennessee General Assembly. And where is the local press reporting on this important bill? 

Across the country, Landlord Tenant Acts are in response to the growing number of investor-owned residential properties. Nashville has a registry as well as Horn Lake, MS. Per the fiscal note, HB34 is estimated to only cost business $27K per year, while not resulting in any local job loss. At the same time, a bunch of crusty ole Trumper looking Horn Lake Alderman's registry, in the much smaller Horn Lake, is set to generate $200-350K with a more aggressive fee schedule (Horn Lake) (TN General Assembly). 

Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer said of the registry “One of the goals is to make landlords more aware of their responsibility to keep the community clean.” Memphis City and County leaders insist that a rental registry is needed to establish a local point of contact to facilitate a timely response in addressing blight and rental property compliance issues (Daily Memphian) (TN General Assembly). 

But again, no help from Collierville Commerce Chair Kevin Vaughan. Vaughan has a history of supporting bad legislation like with residential PILOTS, decreasing regulations around wetlands thereby threatening clean drinking water and not supporting good legislation in this landlord tenant act. 

Given this lack of support, the MLGW Board, on March 20, was notified by the public of Vaughan's dismissal of City of Memphis rental registry needs. Then following public comment, Commissioner Carl Person thankfully moved to delay the MLGW Board expansion item with a unanimous board vote and concurrence by the suburban board representatives (MLGW Board). 

But there has still been no press reporting on the delay of the MLGW Board expansion vote or HB34. Following the meeting I asked recently appointed Vice President of Communications, Ursula Madden, to advocate press reporting on this matter. She said "Oh they will report it" as if she need not advocate. And then no reporting followed. But on the afternoon of March 20, this huge spread appears entitled "Photos: Doug McGowen Through the Years" without any press reporting on the MLGW Board expansion vote delay. Where is the reporting (Commercial Appeal) ?!?! 

Both HB34 and MLGW board expansion are needed. Let's get both done. Until the Landlord Tenact act passes, no MLGW board voting suburban seats should be made available. MLGW Board expansion would eventually go before the City Council and if passed by the Council, to City of Memphis voters for a Charter referendum vote.

Check the Facts

City of Horn Lake, MS.

Commercial Appeal. Photos: Doug McGowen Through the Years. March 20, 2024.

Daily Memphian. Horn Lake to Launch Registry, Licensing Fees for Residential Rentals. December 29, 2022.

Daily Memphian. Agricenter President Tapped to MLGW Board. July 12, 2023.

Daily Memphian. MLGW Board Weighs Push for Suburban Voting Member. March 6, 2024 -

MLGW Board. 00:06:00 and 00:12:45. March 20, 2024.

TN General Assembly. Commerce Business and Utilities Subcommittee at 00:39:30. March 12, 2024.

TN General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee. Fiscal Note HB 34-SB 1256. March 1, 2023.


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