Memphis mayor disputes CNN pundit’s ‘blistering critique’ of city and its leadership

After CNN pundit Angela Rye unleashed a blistering critique of Memphis and its leadership during a taxpayer-funded speech Saturday, Memphis’ Mayor Jim Strickland took the unusual step Monday of issuing a rebuttal to “defend our city,” reports the Commercial Appeal.

Rye’s scathing commentary on the city’s policies and progress — or lack thereof — came during the city’s commemoration of the iconic “I Am A Man” march, one of several “MLK50” events planned to commemorate the 50th anniversaries this year of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

…(Strickland) issued his rebuttal in a special email to constituents and in a social media post on his campaign Facebook account. But she was an instant hit with local political activists, some of whom have repeatedly clashed with the administration on a variety of topics, including immediate removal of Confederate monuments and parking on the Overton Park greensward.

Rye said she was “astonished” by the response from Strickland and his administration.

“He’s fragile like Trump,” she said.

Asked about the kerfuffle Monday, Memphis Chief Communications Officer Ursula Madden said the mayor was defending the city against an “attack by a person who doesn’t live here and was ill-informed.” Because the city paid Rye’s speaker fee through an events planner, Madden said she wasn’t required to make the fee public.

“We will not leave it up to event planners anymore to vet our speakers,” Madden said.

Rye, who is also a political strategist and activist, said she was donating $10,000 of the fee to two local advocacy groups and called on Strickland to match her donations and “put his money where his mouth is.”

Note: The article includes a sampling of Rye comments, Strickland’s rebuttal comments and a “fact check” on each.

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