Attorney Carol Chumney, a former Memphis City Councilwoman, has filed a 20-page federal lawsuit on behalf of the city’s former public records coordinator who was fired earlier this year after requesting payroll and other records relating to her supervisor and other employees in the city attorney’s office.
The lawsuit claims Bridgett Handy-Clay was wrongfully dismissed for “refusing to remain silent” about and reporting allegations of nepotism and abuse of city policies among city employees and officials. The suit names as defendants the city of Memphis, Mayor AC Wharton Jr., city attorney Herman Morris and senior legal administrator Cathy Porter.
Among other claims in the suit, Handy-Clay is said to have “reasonable cause to believe that (Morris) was also abusing city leave and pay policies.”
One line that jumps out of the suit – again, coming from the city’s former public records coordinator – reads: “There was an entrenched ‘culture’ at City Hall to disclose only the bare minimum needed to comply with any given public records request and conceal as much as possible from the public.”
Handy-Clay was appointed as the city’s public records coordinator in July 2007 by former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. Later that year, Herenton won re-election as mayor, beating Chumney and Morris.
In a press conference earlier this year, the city’s chief administrative officer George Little said Handy-Clay’s firing had nothing to do with those issues. Rather, he said it was an evaluation of her performance, among other things.