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VOL. 124 | NO. 240 | Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ford Resigns - Buehler Clears Last Hurdle - Kuhn Proposes

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners have put off a vote on a new commissioner for two weeks.

The move came as Commissioner Joe Ford marked his last day Monday. Ford will be sworn in Thursday as Shelby County interim mayor following A C Wharton’s election victory in October as Memphis mayor.

The commission is now scheduled to fill the vacancy at its Dec. 21 meeting.

In other action, the commission put to rest an October resolution it approved, turning over 140 parcels of tax-delinquent land to developer Harold Buehler. Commissioner Henri Brooks held up approval of the meeting minutes for more than a month, claiming rules for public notice weren’t followed. She had hoped to void the earlier vote on those grounds. She also asked a commissioner who voted for the resolution to move for reconsideration.

Brooks has referred to Buehler as a “slumlord” and said the questions she raised about the process amounted to “substantial unanswered questions.” She also claimed Buehler arranged public financing to develop the lots “on false premises.’

Brooks also said there was a “substantial unanswered question about the validity of the title held by the city.”

Commission Chairman Sidney Chism said the commission had already approved the item and the commission voted 8-2 to approve the minutes.

Meanwhile, plans to rename the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court Building in honor of the late County Commissioner Vasco Smith have run afoul of other plans to name the Shelby County Administration Building in honor of Smith. Both proposals were delayed today to the Dec. 21 meeting. They will be discussed during Dec. 16 committee sessions.

Commissioner Mike Ritz proposed the juvenile court renaming. But Brooks said that clashes with plans other commissioners had made with the Smith family to rename the office building on the Main Street Mall where the commission meets and has its offices.

Commissioners voted down a proposal by Commissioner James Harvey to study the idea of hiring a bus shuttle service to ferry county employees from surrounding parking lots to the administration building. Harvey claimed it was unsafe for the employees to walk. Ritz accused Harvey of trying to create a contract for a specific company, although he didn’t name it.

And a routine item from the Community Services Division turned into a marriage proposal.

Deputy Community Services Director Heidi Verbeek showed up to answer what she thought were some questions about the resolution. Commissioner Matt Kuhn said he might have to recuse himself after asking a few questions.

With that, he approached the podium, got down on one knee and proposed. Verbeek said yes, and Kuhn declared himself recused on the matter.

PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064