MLGW, as residents called it, was and is the largest three-service municipal utility in the United States, now with over 400,000 customers.
For a reporter, it was a dream assignment because the utility was always convulsed in politics. I covered rate increases, power outages, service changes, the questionable purchase of a natural gas field and, finally, the chief executive’s resignation under pressure. The utility seemed to be operating efficiently for Memphis residents, but it sure was rife with politics.
Then I moved to London for a year-long master’s degree program. As a uninformed and optimistic American, I tried to get telephone service in my apartment. At the time, government-run British Telecom had a one-year backlog. At least I had electricity and heat, though the latter was supplied via a coin-operated gas meter.