County Commission Delays Chairman Vote After 21 Ballots

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioners put off electing a chairman for the next year’s term Monday, July 16, after 21 rounds of voting in which no one got seven votes.

The contenders for the chairmanship term that starts Sept. 1 were current chairman pro tempore Wyatt Bunker, Henri Brooks, Mike Ritz and the current chairman Sidney Chism.

With Democratic commissioner Steve Mulroy absent, the seven vote Democratic majority was short one crucial vote. But the voting for chairman was across party lines with as many as four members abstaining from any choice during the balloting.

Chism is in his second term as chairman and said later he has no interest in pursuing a third term but would be willing to serve as a compromise choice if no one else can get seven votes.

The commission will try again at its July 30 meeting.

A move by Commissioner Walter Bailey to give the next chairman a pay raise even though the commission already voted last month to keep the chairman’s pay the same didn’t have enough votes to be added to Monday’s agenda.

Meanwhile, the commission also delayed a revival of a commission redistricting plan Chancellor Arnold Goldin has already ordered the county to go ahead with. Some commissioners, after meeting with their attorney in the matter last week, want to try to pass the plan Goldin ordered on third and final reading. It is an attempt to head off any future legal challenges to the county charter provision that requires nine votes to pass such a plan or any other ordinance on third and final reading. State law only requires a simple majority.

The commission approved the first of three readings of a revised Unified Development Code that goes to the Memphis City Council Tuesday for a final vote. But several other first readings of revisions to other construction and building codes were delayed for a more thorough review in committee sessions next week.

The commission also approved a $15 million allocation of funding for the two public school systems to by a single computer system for payroll, budgeting and other administrative functions once the school systems are merged starting in August 2013.

The commission would approve an appropriation of the amount once the school systems return to the commission with the results of a request for proposal on the ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning -- system.