Thursday, August 12, 2004

Susan Adler Thorp: Media Spinner

After County Mayor AC Wharton accepted the resignations of Susan Adler Thorp and Bobby Lanier, in the wake of an investigation into Tom Jones doubled pension payments, Thorp almost immediately started talking to the television news.

She's peddling the same story: Jones approached her about his pension. She directed him to Lanier. She assumed the Mayor knew and didn't say anything. Let's assume that's true. Why would Wharton ask for her resignation over that? Obviously, more is going on. The Fowlkes report has been delayed until Friday, so we'll have to wait to see what we learn.

Adler has added a new twist to her story today, one that Jones is also using. She claims that it was perfectly legal for Jones to request to come back long enough to raise his pension benefits. The problem, of course, is why he chose to come through her and Lanier, rather than go straight to the Pension Board. Jones was with County government how many years? Wouldn't he know proper procedures?

Listening to Jones and Thorp on television it seems to me that they are soft-peddling a whole lot of stuff. Except when Jones is claiming endemic "internecine" corruption.

There's also what Mayor Wharton ruefully called the "loyalty of friendship." You can rephrase that as "rule by man instead of rule by law." It's the understandable, though still unethical for government workers, desire to help someone you know well. It is all over Memphis and Shelby County government.

Will the Commercial Appeal take up all these tantalising clues and delve into Pension Board records to see who else might have had adjustments? I'm not holding my breath.

(Note: this post was edited to correctly attribute the correct Wharton quote above.)

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