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Ethics hearing regarding City Councilwoman’s employment delayed to late May

A Memphis Board of Ethics hearing related to Memphis City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas’ day job with the Memphis River Parks Partnership was delayed on Wednesday, April 10.

The matter has been rescheduled for May 29. Attorneys Wharton and Rodrick Holmes, who represent Easter-Thomas and the board, respectively – made the request. 

Rebecca Neves, an employee of A2H, lodged the complaint in January. The Lakeland-based architectural and engineering firm was retained by Memphis Urban Wood, to build a biomass campus in a blighted area of North Memphis.

Thomas, who represents the District 7 area that includes neighborhoods like Klondike and Smokey City, consistently opposed the project. So did several community groups. 

Eventually, her constituents cooled to the proposed facility too. Despite the promise of sure jobs to an underserved area, resident worries over air quality and health concerns scuttled the project. 

Memphis Urban Wood canceled the development in mid-March, before a final vote by the council could be held.

It was during one a community group meeting that Neves’ name first circulated. Following the complaint, it was noted  – along with her employer – on a fact sheet distributed to media during a March meeting.

The biomass facility was a joint project with The Works. Over the years, the CDC has been involved in several projects, primarily in South Memphis. However, its mission has expanded to the North Memphis area. 

Previously, the organization has partnered with the Klondike-Smokey City to invest in the long-neglected communities. Along with revitalizing numerous homes – occupied or not – other projects included redeveloping the abandoned Northside High School building into a multi-purpose facility.

Thomas opposed those too.

Neves denies any employer involvement in the complaint. Neither did A2H leadership.

Roshun Austin, CEO of The Works, echoed the denials of involvement.

Thomas – whose employer manages several Memphis-area parks –  has referred questions to her attorney.

Throughout her time on the council, she has routinely recused herself from City of Memphis Parks Dept.-related votes. It is her second term.

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