VOL. 111 | NO. 158 | Tuesday, August 26, 1997
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
Minority commissioners keep
up boycott despite agreement
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
The Daily News
County Commissioner Pete Sisson said Monday if boycotting minority commission members failed to appear for the next commission meeting on Sept. 8, he would pursue the necessary avenues to seek their ousting.
Sisson asked commission chairman Mark Norris at the end of Mondays County Commission meeting to write a letter inviting the absent members to the September meeting and explaining the ramifications of their actions.
Sisson said he was dumbfounded when the minority commissioners did not show up for the meeting, since he believed they had reached an agreement.
"Something happened, and they balked," Sisson said of the boycotting commissioners, but he did not know what that "something" was.
Earlier Monday, Walter Bailey, the senior member of the commission and spokesman for the boycotting members, called a press conference and announced the end of the boycott.
But when the commission meeting was called to order, none of the boycotting members were in attendance. Bailey did enter the chambers briefly during the meeting but did not take his seat and participate.
When Bailey spoke at the press conference, he said the decision to boycott was one that was encouraged by some African-American members of the local judiciary. Addressing the ending of the boycott, Bailey said, "Is this particular boycott over I would say yes."
The parties believed they had reached an agreement Monday morning when a consensus memorandum was signed by Norris, Bailey, Sisson and county Mayor Jim Rout. The memorandum called for the commission to take certain actions.
One of those steps was the introduction of a resolution which called for the reconsideration of a previously introduced resolution concerning partisan judicial primaries which failed on July 7. Consideration of that motion was deferred to a subsequent hearing.
Commission members expressed their intent to support special legislation that would implement a "yes/no retention system" for incumbent judges. Plans are to have the system, known as a modified Missouri plan, in place before February.
Under this plan, only judges who have been appointed to unexpired terms would be subject to a general election.
Shelby County judges who fall in that category are Circuit Court judges John McCarroll and James Russell and General Sessions judges Lynn Cobb and Joyce Broffitt. Open seats also would be subject to partisan primaries in 1998.
Norris said the commission also will take the necessary action to put a referendum on the August 1998 ballot to let citizens vote on whether partisan judicial primaries should be held in future elections.
The support of Norris resolution was brought about by a consensus memorandum signed by Norris, Bailey, Sisson and Rout.
Norris said the resolution which failed on July 7 centered around plans to adopt special legislation regarding partisan judicial primaries.