Shelby County Commissioners voted down a bid Monday, March 24, to rebid the county’s contract for federally-funded family planning services with Christ Community Health Services.
And the commission rejected an August referendum item on eliminating any residency requirement from the Shelby County Charter for county government employees as well as Shelby County Schools teachers.
The effort by commissioner Steve Mulroy to urge the administration of County Mayor Mark Luttrell to rebid the contract was branded by some on the commission as a political effort aimed at defusing criticism Mulroy is taking from former commissioner Deidre Malone in the three-way Democratic primary race for county mayor. The third contender is former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr.
Mulroy voted for the contract in 2011, a point Malone, who was not on the commission by then, has made in campaign speeches. Mulroy counters that he voted for it after getting amendments to track how the services are delivered. And Mulroy said he followed through with Monday’s resolution when he saw numbers that indicated to him that Christ Community Health Services wasn’t delivering those services to as many women as Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region.
Malone contends the numbers were apparent from the start. But some of the commissioners who voted against the resolution Monday and county Chief Administrative Officer Harvey Kennedy said Mulroy’s numbers were incorrect and based on unfair comparisons.
The commission vote was 2-6 with Mulroy and commissioner Sidney Chism as the only yes votes. Commissioners Walter Bailey, Melvin Burgess and chairman James Harvey abstained. Commissioner Henri Brooks was absent.
In other action, third reading of a referendum ordinance by commissioner Terry Roland to let voters decide on a proposal to eliminate any residency requirements from the Shelby County charter for county employees and Shelby County Schools teachers failed on a 6-4 vote. It had also failed on the first two readings and needed a nine-vote two-thirds majority.
Roland argued the measure should go to voters following the commission’s vote last year to grandfather in an exemption for Memphis City Schools teachers to the county residency requirement.
Other commissioners said they opposed county government jobs going to those who don’t live in Memphis while still other commissioners thought grandfathering in the legacy MCS employees was as far as the commission should go in changing the residency requirement.
The commission also appointed Jimmy Ogle, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, as the new Shelby County Historian.
Ogle, who is also general manager of Beale Street Landing and the Riverfront Development Corp., serves a six-year term in the job which pays nothing.
Ogle was selected in a process in which University of Memphis history professor Charles Crawford and Lauren Beaupre, a teacher at Faith Christian Academy, who has also been a fellow at the Tennessee Center for Historic Preservation, were nominated.