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Lawyer argues against $3M Memphis pledge to Lemoyne-Owen


A Memphis resident is arguing that a pledge by the Memphis City Council to give $3 million to financially struggling Lemoyne-Owen College amounts to a public gift to a private institution.

A judge was expected to hear arguments Thursday from an attorney for Dr. Howard Entman, who is arguing that the pledge should be considered illegal.

“What is the basis they should get the money?” said Entman, a medical doctor. “Why not give $1 million to MUS or to Lausanne or to your uncle’s hardware store?”

Attorney Duncan Ragsdale made brief arguments Wednesday before Judge John McCarroll, who ccould decide whether to set another hearing or issue a ruling.

The council voted 9-2 last week to give $1 million in the next three years to the small private school that educated many black students in Memphis during racial segregation.

The historically black school needs up to $4 million by the end of the month to pay debts and avoid losing its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The council is arguing that the pledge is constitutional because it helps an institution that creates jobs and is beneficial to the community.

“It seems pretty straightforward,” attorney Allan Wade said, comparing the gift to the public funding of the FedEx Forum. “We believe we do have a valid, lawful donation.”

–Associated Press

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