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Editorial Results (free)

1. LeMoyne-Owen Adds Talent To Be More Competitive -

As a child, Adriane Johnson-Williams remembers plucking honeysuckles off the fence as she passed Elmwood Cemetery, cutting through apartment buildings and meeting friends on the way to summer camp at LeMoyne-Owen College.

2. Harris Weighs Cohen Challenge -

Tennessee state Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris is considering a challenge of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the August Democratic Congressional primary.

3. November 13-19: This week in Memphis history -

2010: Memphis City Schools board members begin talking over what Republican majorities in both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature will mean for local public education.
Some on the MCS board are certain the majorities will give Shelby County Schools permission to declare itself a special school district with its own source of funding in the county outside Memphis. Some board members advocate a move to surrender the MCS charter and effectively merge the county’s two public school systems. Others urge more talks between the systems to work out a compromise short of two special districts.
“Since I’ve been on this board, we’ve been talking. … I’m tired of talking,” says school board member Tomeka Hart. “We keep talking and every year, they get closer and closer. We won’t be able to afford the system that we have now.”

4. Wilkins Targets Cohen as ‘Career Politician’ -

Ricky Wilkins told a packed campaign headquarters in Poplar Plaza on a busy campaign weekend that U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is waging a dirty campaign while complaining that Wilkins is doing the same.

5. Cohen Touts Ability to Represent District -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen told political supporters over the weekend that he expects the 9th Congressional district Democratic primary race with attorney Ricky E. Wilkins to involve a lot of mud slinging.

6. Wilkins Maps Different Challenge of Cohen -

Ricky Wilkins is promising to match U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen’s energy level and be more of a presence in the district than Cohen if he upsets the incumbent in the August Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District.

7. August’s ‘Big Ballot’ Awaits County’s Voters -

With the unofficial results in the Shelby County primary elections in, get ready for the “big ballot.”

The candidates who won the Democratic and Republican primaries in Tuesday’s elections advance to the August ballot where they will join a much larger group of candidates and races that once every eight years produce the largest ballot of any election cycle in Shelby County politics.

8. Law School Draws Honors, High-Profile Speakers -

From a slew of high-profile guests who’ve come to speak over the past year, to a string of recent awards, to a U.S. Supreme Court justice’s visit next month, it could be argued the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is having a moment.

9. School Board Crossing -

The Shelby County Schools board will no longer need a massive semi-circle with 23 seats at its next meeting in September.

The board that has been in place since October 2011 as one of the first moves toward unification of Shelby County’s two public school systems becomes a seven-member board effective Sunday, Sept. 1.

10. School Uniform Policies Remain Unchanged -

After setting policies on school uniforms and labor unions, next up for the countywide school board is a single policy for the two combined school systems on student access to cell phones.

Interim schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson gave school board members the preview Tuesday, May 28, of what is certain to be a coming debate at the June board meetings as they approved a much-discussed policy on uniforms and dress codes.

11. Bunker, Hart Clash on Merger Future -

One of the most vocal critics of the countywide school board’s $1.18 billion budget proposal says the schools merger is imposing a failed education formula on legacy Shelby County Schools.

“Why is it that Shelby County Schools can provide more teachers, better salaries for their principals and so forth – they can provide more of that than Memphis (City Schools) can with more money?” Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker asked. “That is the failure of the school board that Tomeka (Hart) served on to do what needed to be done years and years and years ago.”

12. School Board Considers Funding Shifts -

When countywide school board members begin considering changes Thursday, May 16, to the $1.18 billion budget proposal before them, there will be few easy choices.

First reactions and questions from school board members Tuesday at the first of three board sessions this week revolved around ways to shift funding in order to expand pre-kindergarten to more schools.

13. Board Continues Delay on Outsourcing Decision -

Not every member of the countywide school board who voted against outsourcing custodial services in February is still trying to stop the contract to carry that out.

But enough were at the Thursday, April 25, special meeting of the board that there was another delay in going through with one of the most critical decisions the 23-member body will make about the merger. And another four to six school board members were absent during the series of votes.

14. Reaction Mixed to School Closings Plan -

There is a joke going around among school administrators across the country in the wake of the decision by Chicago school leaders to close more than 50 schools there.

“What do you call a superintendent who closes schools?” countywide school board member Kevin Woods began in telling the joke at the Tuesday, April 23, board meeting. “You call him a past superintendent.”

15. Legal Path to Special Master Unclear -

If U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays appoints a special master to oversee the merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems, there are legal questions about how much authority the master would have and precisely what he or she would do to advance the merger’s pace.

16. Ending of Schools Talks Still Rankles Both Sides -

When all sides in the school merger court case gather Monday, Feb. 25, before federal court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays, they will have lots of time to talk over municipal school districts.

The status conference is the only item on Mays’ calendar Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

17. August Schools Merger Deadline Remains -

The countywide school board voted down two attempts to add resolutions to its agenda Monday, Feb. 18, including one seeking a year’s extension of the August 2013 schools merger start date and another seeking to slow the process while still meeting the date.

18. School Board Votes Down Adding Merger Delay Resolutions -

The countywide school board voted down two attempts to add resolutions to its agenda Monday, Feb. 18, including one seeking a year’s extension of the Aug. 2013 schools merger start date and another seeking to slow movement but not stop it toward the merger date.

19. Schools Merger Issues Moving on Several Fronts -

The schools merger issue is moving again on several fronts less than six months before the first school year of the consolidation begins.

The movement began with the release of a preliminary schools budget for the first year of the merger that shook many county and city schools parents out of the mindset that the merger would mean few changes at the school level.

20. Hart To Explore Schools Merger Delay -

Countywide school board member Tomeka Hart will offer a resolution at a school board meeting Monday, Feb. 18 that could call for a one year delay in the scheduled July 1 merger of the city and county school systems.

21. School Board Asks For $145 Million Extra -

The countywide school board is asking the Shelby County Commission for $145 million in extra funding for the first fiscal year of the schools merger.

The “ask” is a preliminary number that goes to a county commission budget retreat scheduled for Feb. 23. It is extra funding beyond the $361 million county government currently provides both school systems.

22. Hopson Calls for Unity in Schools -

Once countywide school board members finished Tuesday, Jan. 29, posing for a picture with outgoing Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash, the board quickly got back to the emerging details of the coming schools merger.

23. Dunavant Awards Honor, Discuss Good Government -

An award for elected and non-elected public officials marking its 10th anniversary this year began as a way to honor the late Probate Court Clerk Bobby Dunavant and to counter the damage done 10 years ago by the Tennessee Waltz federal public corruption investigation.

24. Final Bell -

From the moment he became Memphis City Schools superintendent, Kriner Cash had competition.

“I’ve been fighting since I got here,” he said in the early stages of what winds up as a five-year tenure that officially comes to an end July 31.

25. Cash’s Turbulent Tenure Full of Surprises -

Kriner Cash came to the city as Memphis City Schools superintendent in July 2008. He began with an informal census that organized the school district’s student population by how many students were overage for their grade level, how many had no primary care physician and how many had access to no pre-kindergarten services.

26. Election Follows Script in County -

In Shelby County and Tennessee the presidential race stuck to the script both national campaigns expected.

President Barack Obama carried Shelby County and Republican challenger Mitt Romney took the state and its 11 electoral votes.

27. Merger, Superintendent Process Set -

Countywide school board members will begin what several described as the “dirty work” of the schools merger at a special meeting Nov. 15.

At that meeting, the board will vote on many if not all of the recommendations from the consolidation planning commission that ended its work in July.

28. School Board Majority Backs Sales Tax Hike -

Twelve of the 23 countywide school board members have signed a letter urging voters to approve a half-cent countywide sales tax hike in the Nov. 6 elections.

The letter dated Thursday, Oct. 25, refers to using half of the estimated revenue from the extra half cent for an expansion of pre-kindergarten. But it mentions pre-k as one of several possible uses for the $30 million that would go to local education under state law.

29. School Board To Make Stand On Tax Hike -

When the countywide school board votes next week on a resolution to endorse a half-cent countywide sales tax hike, the vote will not be unanimous.

And the resolution that backs the tax hike on the Nov. 6 ballot will not guarantee that the $30 million from the tax hike that goes to local education will be used for pre- kindergarten access for all children.

30. School Board Debates Sales Tax Support -

Countywide school board members debated Tuesday, Oct. 23, the idea of backing a half cent countywide sales tax hike.

Half of the estimated $60 million in revenue from the tax hike on the November ballot would got to local education by state law.

31. School Board Questions Processes -

The process that countywide school board members are using to filter school merger recommendations from the transition planning commission looks a lot like the commission itself.

The group of senior administrators from both school systems even has a similar name – the transition steering committee. And like the transition planning commission, it will explore hiring consulting firms to advise it.

32. Watershed Day -

The unofficial vote totals are in from Thursday’s county general and state and federal primary elections in Shelby County, but no one involved believed the last cartridge read at the Shelby County Election Commission would be the last word on the results.

33. Muni Schools Questions Pass, Cohen Wins Big -

Voters in each of the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County approved establishing municipal school districts in the unofficial results of the Thursday, Aug. 2, county general and state and federal primary elections.

34. Muni Schools, Cohen, Weirich, Johnson, Stanton, Kyle Take Early Vote -

Voters in each of the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County were overwhelmingly approving the establishment of municipal school districts and a half cent sales tax hike to fund them in the first vote totals released Thursday, Aug. 2 by the Shelby County Election Commission.

35. Cohen, Hart in Final Preparations for Primary -

Steve Cohen and Tomeka Hart agree that serving in Congress is about relationships, something they each said in separate interviews with The Daily News editorial board.

36. Cohen Talks About Opponents, Schools, Race and His Political Past -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is running for a fourth term in Congress starting with the Aug. 2 primary, in which he is being challenged by countywide school board member Tomeka Hart.

37. Numerous Issues Drive Early Voting -

Republicans have the suburban ballot questions on municipal school districts. Democrats have outrage over the voter photo ID state law.

Together the two factors could have more to do with voter turnout in the Aug. 2 elections than any of the candidates on the ballot.

38. Cohen Keeps Focus on Bigger Picture -

Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, says he works well with Republicans in Congress but that most of the federal funding and help he has secured for the city comes from the Democratic-controlled White House.

39. Hart Discusses Congressional Bid With The Memphis News -

Countywide school board member Tomeka Hart talked with The Memphis News editorial board this month about her candidacy in the Aug. 2 Democratic Congressional primary – a challenge of incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen in the 9th District.

40. School Board Looks for Consensus -

After effectively ruling out Kriner Cash last week as the leader of the consolidated Shelby County school system, school board members now turn to a decision about how to select that superintendent.

41. Consolidation Looks to Move Forward Minus Cash -

The countywide school board got the highly anticipated process of selecting the superintendent of the consolidated school system to come off to a contradictory start this week.

The practical effect of the Tuesday, June 19, school board vote not to renew the contract of Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash is that Cash probably won’t be running the transition into and at least the start of the merged school district, which begins in August 2013.

42. School Board Votes Not To Renew Cash's Contract -

The countywide school board voted Tuesday, June 19, not to renew the contract of Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash past August 2013 when it is scheduled to run out.

The 14-8 vote came during two back-to-back school board meetings covering five hours in which the board also agreed to talk more about a process for selecting the superintendent of the consolidated school system to come at a meeting next week.

43. Hart Seeks Debate With Rep. Cohen -

Democratic candidate for the 9th Congressional District Tomeka Hart wants a debate with incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. But Cohen’s campaign is not responding to the debate call a month before early voting begins in the Democratic congressional primary contest between the two.

44. Cohen Plans Rollout of Endorsements -

There will be a Cohen ballot of political endorsements for the Aug. 2 and Nov. 6 elections.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, opened his campaign headquarters Saturday, June 2, with a pledge to not only campaign hard for re-election but to campaign on behalf of President Barack Obama and several local Democrats in county general election and state legislative races.

45. Delta Airfare Arguments Take to Social Media -

If Facebook groups are any indication, the discussion about high airfares at Memphis International Airport is intensifying.

By the start of the Memorial Day weekend, two rivals in August’s Democratic Congressional primary began debating on the Facebook group page “Delta Does Memphis,” and two new group pages were created on the social media site.

46. Cohen-Hart Debate Delta Airfares On Facebook -

The growing discontent over high airfares at Memphis International Airport has become part of the August Democratic primary election contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and challenger Tomeka Hart.

47. Cohen-Hart Debate Delta Airfares On Facebook -

The growing discontent over high airfares at Memphis International Airport has become part of the August Democratic primary election contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and challenger Tomeka Hart.

48. Hart Brings Different Perspective of System -

There was a time when Tomeka Hart vowed never to return to her hometown, Memphis.

Hart, who is a countywide school board member running for U.S. Congress in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, is not the first elected official in Memphis to make such an admission.

49. New District Lines Lead to New Races -

“This time I waited to be sure,” Ian Randolph said just before the Thursday, April 5, deadline for candidates to file in the Aug. 2 elections.

50. Cohen-Hart in Congressional Race at Filing Deadline -

The chairman of the countywide school board, Billy Orgel, was effectively elected to his District 7 school board seat without opposition at the Thursday, April 5, filing deadline for candidates on the Aug. 2 primary and general election ballot in Shelby County.

51. St. George’s to Host Symposium -

The public is invited to learn about the importance of entrepreneurial citizenship during St. George’s Independent School’s 2012 Educational Symposium, slated for April 14 at Memphis Bioworks Foundation, 20 S. Dudley St.

52. All Eyes Look to Nashville in Schools Debate -

As Tennessee legislative committees in Nashville prepare to shut down for the year, there are still a few to meet this week.

And one of them on Wednesday, March 28, could be the next curve in the schools reformation saga.

53. State Redistricting Wrinkles Save Kyle's Seat But Continue Debate -

There was one very important change to the new district lines for the Tennessee State Senate as the week ended in Nashville with the legislature taking final action on the once a decade redistricting process.

54. Deadline Looms For Candidates In March Primaries -

There is the paperwork and there are the deadlines in politics. And then there are the campaigns that begin long before the paperwork or deadlines.

One group of candidates in the 2012 election cycle is approaching its first deadline Thursday, Dec. 8, at noon – the filing deadline for the March 6 county primaries.

55. Hart Opens Campaign HQ for Congressional Run -

Countywide school board member Tomeka Hart has opened her campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat now held by Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen.

56. Urban League Report Paints Bleak Picture For Blacks -

Tennessee nonprofit and government leaders are looking at ways to increase employment rates in the state’s most underserved communities.

The economic downturn has proven especially devastating for the African-American community, which makes up the majority of Memphis’ citizenry.

57. Schools Get Fresh Start With New Board -

The separate Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools boards are no more when the end of September rolls over into October.

And the 23 members of the countywide Shelby County Schools board take the oath of office Monday, Oct. 3 at the MCS auditorium.

58. MCS Payment Plan Gets School on Track -

Memphis City Council members will probably cut the city’s funding of the Memphis City Schools system for the current fiscal year to reflect a drop in student enrollment as noted by state education officials.

59. MCS Board Approves Funding Compromise -

Memphis City Schools board members voted 8-0 Tuesday, July 26, to start the school year as scheduled on Aug. 8 provided the Memphis City Council approves its budget at the Aug. 2 council meeting including at least $68.4 million in city funding.

60. Hart to Run for Congress -

Put Memphis City Schools board member Tomeka Hart down as a candidate for the 9th Congressional District’s Democratic primary in 2012.

In a Facebook message Tuesday, May 31, Hart said she intends to run for the seat now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.

61. Schools Chess Game Gives Way to Settlement Talks -

After a wild political ride that has lasted from about Thanksgiving to now Easter just around the corner, all of the players in the schools consolidation drama have made just about all of the moves they can to checkmate the other sides.

62. Cash Gets Contract Extension From MCS Board -

Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash’s contract has been extended by the MCS board up to the Aug. 2013 transition date for schools consolidation.

The MCS board voted 7-0 for the contract extension which follows a similar decision by the Shelby County school board to extend the contract of county schools superintendent John Aitken.

63. Next Moves -

The two tracks to schools consolidation are about to cross now that Memphis voters have settled the consolidation referendum that is the mainline for the journey to one public school system in Shelby County.

64. Schools Leaders Focus on Future Merger Details -

The leaders of Shelby County’s two public school systems put a lot of emphasis on the technical aspects of bringing both school systems together the day after Memphis voters approved schools consolidation. They also emphasized long “to do” lists on the way to a merger.

65. Divisions Remain As Schools Talks Continue -

Memphis City Schools board members continue a series of town hall meetings on the schools consolidation referendum with different opinions about what the ballot question means.

And city schools attorney Dorsey Hopson added a caution about expressing their political opinions at the sessions paid for with public money.

66. Cash Says Ballot Question Short On Answers For Voters -

Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said Monday it’s not clear what voters in the March 8 referendum are deciding.

Cash challenged MCS board members to fill in the blank with sentences beginning with “A yes vote is a vote for –“ and “A no vote is a vote for – “.

67. Lighting the Fuse -

Memphis voters have 22 words to weigh as they decide what is to become of Shelby County’s two public school systems.
“Shall the administration of the Memphis City School System, a special school district, be transferred to the Shelby County Board of Education?”
The words seem inadequate to cover what a “yes” or a “no” vote means after a state law and other factors changed the terms of a vote already scheduled for March 8.
Voters for schools consolidation may be against special schools district status but for letting some of the six suburban towns and cities try to go with their own municipal school system.
Voters may be against school consolidation and against special school district status if it includes taxing authority for the county school board, albeit with tax approval required by the Tennessee Legislature.
Some voters may see it as a way of ending reforms driven by MCS superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash. Others may see it as a way of ending Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler’s dominance of that school system.
School consolidation advocates are still urging citizens to vote “yes” and school consolidation opponents are still urging citizens to vote “no.”
“The lay of the land has changed, so will people consider the lay of the land or what? That statement stands. It’s on the ballot and everyone knows what it’s designed to do,” said Memphis City Council chairman Myron Lowery. “This occurred after the question was put on the ballot. If someone wants to make that stretch, they’re jumping over a lot of hurdles. This was not in place when this was put on the ballot.”
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., along with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, sought a transition period even as political positions began to harden. He doesn’t see what’s in the law as a transition period.
“The way it’s structured, there’s every incentive not to reach an agreement. It looks to me like it falls off the face of the earth,” Wharton said. “There was nothing in there that states where do you go if at the end of this (the planning process) there is nothing resolved.”
State Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, disagrees.
“The state has a compelling interest in assuring that the administration of schools is properly discharged,” Norris wrote in an op-ed piece for The Memphis News last week. “To do otherwise defies common sense and common decency.”
Pickler said if voters approve the question, he will quickly move to assemble a team to work on the transition. It’s a transition that Pickler has always emphasized will be controlled by the county school system. That is one point on which the attorneys seem to agree.
“Clearly we understand that this issue is not about educational outcomes,” he said during a WKNO forum last week. “We still do not believe that creating a mega district … doesn’t do anything to improve education.”
MCS board member Tomeka Hart, at the same forum, countered “We do here as an economic issue,” a reference to the University of Memphis study showing special schools district status could cost MCS half of the county property tax base it relies on for funding. “It’s time to rewrite all of this,” Hart concluded.
Here is the timeline – to date – of the ongoing schools showdown:

68. Schools Suit Could Find Judge Soon -

If attorneys for Shelby County Schools can find a federal judge this week, they may be in court after early voting begins Wednesday in the schools consolidation referendum.

In a wide-ranging lawsuit filed Friday, the school system went after more than just the Memphis City Council, which voted last week to ratify the Memphis City Schools board charter surrender vote of Dec. 20.

69. WKNO, TDN Host Schools Consolidation Forum -

WKNO and The Daily News will host a television forum Friday at 8 p.m. on the schools consolidation issue.

The hour-long forum will air as a special edition of “Behind the Headlines,” hosted by Eric Barnes, publisher of The Daily News. It will feature Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler, Memphis City Schools board members Martavius Jones and Tomeka Hart, and Memphis Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader Dwight Montgomery.

70. Central Library Site of Latest Schools Forum -

A third of the Memphis City Schools board will be on the panel Friday for the latest in the growing list of public forums on school consolidation.

The forum by the child advocacy group “Voices for Memphis’ Children” at 10 a.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., features MCS board members Tomeka Hart, Martavius Jones and Kenneth Whalum Jr. It will also include Memphis Education Association president Keith Williams and Julie Coffey, deputy administrator of the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth.

71. School Referendum at Center of Recent Forums -

It seems to be the season for forums – three, in fact, at the same time Thursday evening in different parts of the city all on the Memphis City Schools charter surrender on the March 8 referendum ballot.

72. Leadership Academy Luncheon Will Focus on Urban Education -

The Leadership Academy on Thursday hosts the latest installment in its Celebrate What’s Right Luncheon series from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave.

73. City, County Schools Leaders Address Critical Issues -

On what turned out to be a school day with snow in the afternoon, the Shelby County Schools board had a lot on its agenda last week.

There was a proposed school calendar, a five-year school construction and renovation plan and the always controversial business of setting new attendance zones for two elementary schools and a high school.

74. MCS Board Votes Down Schools Standoff Compromise -

The Memphis City Schools (MCS) board voted down a compromise proposal Tuesday from Shelby County School officials.

The 2-7 vote against the compromise sets the stage for the Shelby County Election Commission to meet Wed. and set a date for a March referendum on the MCS charter surrender approved by the board in December.

75. Schools Standoff Shows Up in Cyberspace -

The legal opinions on the terms for voting on a consolidated school system are beginning to pile up.

But there are other signs of life away from the law books and centers of government that so far have defined the standoff between Shelby County’s two public school systems.

76. Hart Selected For Aspen Institute Fellowship -

Tomeka Hart, president and chief executive officer of the Memphis Urban League and Memphis City Schools board member, has been selected as a member of The Aspen Institute’s new class of political leaders for the Rodel Fellowship program.

77. Emotions Bared Over School Charter Fight -

In a city that cares perhaps too much what newcomers think of it, Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash has been The Sphinx.

Nearly impossible to read on that score, that is until Monday night’s emotional city school board debate on a charter surrender.

78. MCS Board Votes To Surrender Charter -

The Memphis City Schools (MCS) board has approved surrendering the school system’s charter subject to a referendum by Memphis voters early in the new year.

The resolution was approved on a 5-4 vote by the MCS board after hours of often emotional debate in which even Supt. Dr. Kriner Cash took a stand.

79. Urban League Honors ‘Agents of Change’ -

With a panoramic view of city lights from the 33rd floor of the Clark Tower, 300 Memphians gathered Friday night to honor outstanding young minority professionals during the inaugural Agents of Change Awards Gala.

80. MCS to Consider Charter Surrender Resolution -

Memphis City Schools board members may make the most important decision of their tenures Monday night with a resolution to surrender the school system’s charter.

If the resolution passes and is then sent to the Shelby County Election Commission, the charter would go to Memphis voters for a referendum sometime in March.

81. Schools Showdown May Have Nashville Detour -

The compromise to the standoff between Shelby County’s two public school systems is a state legislative study committee that could be introduced on the first day of the legislative session next month in Nashville.

82. Charter Surrender Talk Tops MCS Meeting -

Memphis City Schools board members take a procedural but important step Monday evening in their consideration of surrendering the school system’s charter.

At the non-voting meeting, the board will set its agenda for the Dec. 20 meeting.

83. Gala Celebrates Young Minority Professionals -

Memphis Urban League Young Professionals will host its inaugural Agents of Change Awards gala at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Tower Room, 5100 Poplar Ave.

84. City, County Schools Summit in Works -

The Memphis City Council might need a big room if everybody shows up for the summit it is trying to organize on the standoff between the county’s two public school systems.

The list includes council members, Shelby County Commission members, both school boards, Shelby County’s state legislators and at least two mayors.

85. Council Moves To Set Up School System Summit -

Memphis city council members are setting up a summit meeting to talk about the political standoff between the county’s two public school systems.

Council members approved a resolution Tuesday calling for a meeting of the two school boards, the council, the Shelby County Commission, both mayors and Shelby County legislators to Nashville.

86. Talks Continue on City Schools Charter Surrender -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. plans to talk with Memphis City Schools (MCS) board members before they take any vote on surrendering their charter.

And Wharton this week said he’s not sure what he will tell them about a decision that has grown to consume the local political horizon in the short space of two weeks.

87. MCS Faces Change On Two Fronts -

Mediation. Surrender. Taxing authority. Installment plans. Special district status. Lump sum payments.

It’s enough to make a school superintendent who puts great value in staying calm admit his unease.

88. MCS Officials Discuss Charter Surrender Options -

County government’s IT discussion isn’t the only evidence of an afterlife for other forms of consolidation in the wake of the Nov. 2 consolidation referendum.

Memphis City Schools board member Tomeka Hart advocated a surrender of the MCS charter Thursday as school system leaders discussed a response to coming state legislation that would permit the county school system to get special school district status.

89. MCS Leaders Talk Over Charter Surrender Options -

Memphis City Schools officials seem to be of one mind that another try by Shelby County schools officials for special school district status would not be in the best interest of the city school system or city taxpayers.

90. Urban League CEO Hart Projects ‘Real Change in Coming Years’ -

Tomeka Hart is president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League, whose annual report has documented the economic gap between black and white for years, both nationally and locally.

The Memphis News recently spoke with Hart about local efforts to address the gap and its causes.

91. Certification Brings Next Steps in Election Process -

It has been two weeks since the Aug. 5 county general elections and the controversy over the vote count may become more intense Thursday as the Shelby County Election Commission meets to certify the results.

92. School Officials Await TCAP Scores, Backlash -

School systems across the state are bracing for more than the start of the new school year next month.

While the school year is still new, parents will receive the scores of their children’s TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) tests. And the proficiency levels, in many cases, won’t be as high as they were in prior years when compared with other students across the country.

93. Schoolhouse Shuffle -

On a cold February morning, a group of excited parents clustered in a tent in back of Kate Bond Elementary School.

94. Talks Still to Come Over Education Reform Money -

Next week in Washington, Tennessee officials will begin talking specific dollar figures with federal education officials who awarded the state $500 million.

The talks will determine the flow of Race to the Top education reform funding over a four-year period.

95. Memphis Integral in Race to the Top Effort -

When Tennessee made its pitch to federal officials for $500 million, Memphis school board member Tomeka Hart was part of the five-person Tennessee team.

And as the state formulated its proposal for the Race to the Top funding, Teresa Sloyan of the Memphis-based Hyde Foundation worked with Hart and others to put together the “ask.”

96. Keep Eyes on Wharton’s Performance Before Next Election Rolls Around -

A few weeks ago, we said there was no ideal candidate in the race for Memphis mayor.

So we recommended three of the contenders for the next two years only.

The election is settled. A C Wharton Jr. won handily. But we still have the same concerns.

97. City Mayoral Transition Yields Crowded To-Do List -  

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. will be appointing a new city attorney once he takes office next week.

Elbert Jefferson, the city attorney Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery tried to fire just minutes after taking the oath of office on July 31, Friday sent a second resignation letter to Lowery. The two met for an hour Sunday evening at City Hall and Lowery accepted Jefferson’s resignation.

Jefferson’s attorney, Ted Hansom, and city Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons were also present. Jefferson turned in his key card, the keys to his city car and his laptop.

“The drama is over,” Lowery said Monday. “For my part, I wish it had never happened.”

Dramatis personae

In a resignation letter last week to Wharton, Jefferson had expressed hope that he would be hired for some position in the new administration. Over the weekend, he used the same text in the new letter but addressed it to Lowery instead. He requested the city pay his legal fees as well.

The resignation letter to Lowery made moot an ouster suit filed by Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. Criminal Court Judge James Lammey, who was to hear the case, reset a final report to Oct. 27, citing Jefferson’s departure.

“A hearing on the issue of suspension would be an inefficient use of judicial resources, of the state of Tennessee and of the resources of the city of Memphis, and considering (Jefferson’s) current health status, would be an unnecessary tax on (Jefferson’s) well-being and a possible threat to his health,” Lammey wrote in the court order.

Jefferson was scheduled to return to City Hall from sick leave Monday. He apparently believed the new mayor would be in office by the time he returned.

An audit of city financial affairs is standard procedure in a change of administrations. Wharton is naming team members to review the offices of the city attorney, human resources and finance and administration. He was also to name members of his transition team Monday.

Time-, battle-tested

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter and Methodist Healthcare executive Cato Johnson will head the team.

The other members are:

- Herman Morris, attorney and 2007 candidate for Memphis Mayor.

- Tomeka Hart, Memphis Urban League CEO and Memphis school board member.

- Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis City Council member.

- Rev. Dwight Montgomery, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis chapter President.

- Jose Velasquez, Latino Memphis former executive director.

- Nisha Powers, Powers Hill Design Inc. President.

- Paul Morris, attorney and former chairman Center City Commission.

- Douglas Scarboro, The Leadership Academy vice president.

- Steve Reynolds, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. CEO.

- Diane Rudner, Plough Foundation chairman.

- Darrell Cobbins, Universal Commercial CEO.

Johnson has more experience serving on such task forces and ad hoc committees than any other leader in the city’s corporate community. Most recently, Johnson was one of two business leaders on the ad hoc committee exploring single-source local funding for education. He also served as a leader of the Mid-South Fairgrounds renovation committee and has been involved in similar capacities with every major construction project for a civic use in the past 15 years.

Carpenter’s appointment is certain to fuel speculation that he might be tapped for some role in the new administration. However, Carpenter has already been holding fundraisers in anticipation of a bid for re-election to his commission seat in the 2010 county elections.

Wharton is tentatively scheduled to take the oath of office Oct. 26.

The Shelby County Commission also meets that same day and could receive Wharton’s resignation and declare a vacancy in the county mayor’s office with a vote to appoint Wharton’s successor-to-come in November. Until that vote, County Commission Chairwoman Joyce Avery will serve as interim mayor.

“It will be a day in which I come to work at one place and leave work from another place,” Wharton told The Daily News.

But the Shelby County Election Commission will meet earlier than expected -- Thursday afternoon -- to certify the Oct. 15 election results. Once the results are certified, Wharton is free to resign as Shelby County mayor and take the oath as Memphis mayor.

Cooperative efforts

Meanwhile, Wharton has asked City Council Chairman Harold Collins to consider delaying a council vote today on the five appointees the city mayor is to make to a metro charter commission. The council set today’s vote with the intention of having whomever won the Oct. 15 special election appoint members of the panel.

“I won’t be there on the 20th. … I’m seeing if they are in a position to put it off until I’m actually over there,” Wharton told The Daily News, as he has had attorneys researching if a council vote in November would meet timelines for such an effort set out in state law.

“I believe that they may be able to meet on Nov. 3,” Wharton said.

Wharton has already named the 10 appointees to be made by the Shelby County mayor to the panel. The County Commission approved all 10 earlier this month.

While it appears he will make the other five, Wharton said he will ask the council, through Collins, to effectively pick the five nominees, whom Wharton would then send to the council as his appointees.

“I chose all 10 over here, which I had to do by law. If I could find some way around it that passed legal muster, then I would do that,” he said. “But we’ve researched it and I know of no way in which the city mayor can say … ‘I’m not going to do that.’ You can’t transfer it.”

Wharton and Lowery were to discuss the matter at a meeting Monday afternoon. Lowery told The Daily News he had received no suggested appointees from council members, but would be willing to submit names the council wants on the charter commission.


98. Update: Wharton Names Transition Team -  

Memphis Mayor-elect A C Wharton Jr. has named eleven more people to his transition team.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter and Methodist Healthcare executive Cato Johnson will chair the group. The others include:

- Herman Morris, attorney, former president of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and 2007 Memphis mayoral candidate;

- The Rev. Dwight Montgomery, president of the Memphis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference;

- Nisha Powers, president of Powers Hill Design Inc.;

- Tomeka Hart, Memphis school board member and Memphis Urban League president and CEO;

- Darrell Cobbins, Universal Commercial President and CEO;

- Jim Strickland, attorney and Memphis City Councilmember;

- Jose Velasquez, Latino Memphis’ former executive director.

- Paul Morris, attorney and former chairman Center City Commission.

- Diane Rudner, Poplar Foundation chairman.

- Steve Reynolds, Baptist Memorial Health Care President & CEO.

- Douglas Scarboro, The Leadership Academy vice president.

In other transition developments, the Shelby County Election Commission will meet Thursday afternoon to certify the results of the Oct. 15 special mayoral election.

The meeting is earlier than Wharton had expected. Once the results are certified, Wharton can resign his post as Shelby County mayor at any point and take the oath of office at City Hall. The Shelby County Commission will then declare a vacancy in the county mayor’s office and commission chairwoman Joyce Avery will become acting mayor until the commission appoints someone to serve the year remaining in Wharton’s county term of office.


99. Wrench in the Works For Single-Source Funding Proposals -

Two proposals for single-source local funding of education went up in flames this week and the ad hoc committee considering the concept is probably a casualty as well.

The 25-member committee of county commissioners, City Council members, representatives of the city and county school boards, two business leaders and the heads of both teachers unions met this week. Fifteen members showed up.

100. A Mayor’s Race to Remember: Candidates pump up the drama as election nears -

The field is set at 25 candidates and Memphians start voting Sept. 25 in a mayor’s race that has been neither a surprise nor the expected.

But there’s no guarantee the election will settle what the post-Willie Herenton era will look like. Too many other events still have to be decided.