VOL. 129 | NO. 217 | Thursday, November 6, 2014
Kyle: Nothing to Rule On in Commission Lawsuit
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle ruled Thursday, Nov. 6, that the current Shelby County Commission has no permanent rules of order and so he has nothing to rule on in the pending lawsuit pitting seven of the 13 commissioners against chairman Justin Ford.
The lawsuit filed Oct. 27 by the seven commissioners says Ford violated the body’s rules by refusing to add to committee and commission agendas a proposal to change the number of votes it takes to approve a measure.
But before Kyle even got to their motion for a temporary restraining order to put the proposal on next week’s committee agendas or to the motion for dismissal by county government, he said the commission that took office Sept. 1 has not adopted permanent rules of order and that the rules adopted by previous commissions do not count.
Attorney Ron Krelstein, representing Ford in his role as County Commission chairman, argued the rules have been adopted and are in force and Ford has abided by them.
“That is not the ruling of this court,” Kyle replied in a move that surprised both sides.
“I really don’t think I have jurisdiction,” he said earlier in the half-hour hearing. “I don’t think you have rules for the chairman to violate. This is a political dispute. … All 13 of you have been doing it by consent, and one of you decided not to do it by consent.”
Until or unless the commission approves permanent rules of order, Kyle said, it appeared a simple majority vote of seven commissioners is all that’s necessary to approve any action, including the rules change favored by the seven commissioners who sued Ford.
Their attempt to change the rule failed last month when they attempted to add it on in committee after Ford removed it. The item failed because of the body’s permanent rules requiring a nine-vote, two-thirds majority.
But Kyle was explicit about the current commission adopting its own rules, even if they mirror rules used by previous commissions.
“One elected body cannot bind another elected body,” he told commissioners Van Turner and Walter Bailey during the brief hearing. Turner is the attorney for the plaintiffs in the matter.
“If you haven’t adopted rules then Mr. Ford hasn’t violated any rules,” Kyle added.
Kyle didn’t dismiss the lawsuit.
Krelstein, Turner and Bailey said after the hearing that they will confer to see if an agreement can be worked out.
Turner said the proposal that prompted the lawsuit has been submitted again for Wednesday’s committee sessions.