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VOL. 129 | NO. 201 | Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Commission Moves Past First Partisan Divide

By Bill Dries

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As quickly as it surfaced, the Shelby County Commission’s first partisan divide of their term of office appeared to subside Monday, Oct. 13.

With little discussion, commissioners approved chairman Justin Ford’s slate of committee assignments for the next year.

The committee assignments are usually a routine matter for commission approval.

BAILEY

But Commissioner Walter Bailey led an effort to delay them that succeeded at the Sept. 22 commission meeting – the second of the four-year term the commissioners were elected to in August.

Bailey took the item off the commission’s consent agenda again Monday for a separate vote, saying of his action, “It’s well-known, the rationale behind it.”

When pressed on his reasons, Bailey repeated the statement.

Unlike at the Sept. 22 meeting, Bailey was the only “no” vote on the item, with fellow Democratic Commissioner Van Turner abstaining.

Bailey’s objection to the routine item is because of Ford’s election as chairman in September with the votes of all six Republican commissioners and Ford’s own vote. Ford is a Democrat.

Bailey, who also was a contender for chairman, has called Ford’s selection a political deal.

And with the votes of the five other Democratic County Commissioners to delay in September the committee assignments, the rest of the Democratic majority showed its displeasure as well.

But only Bailey was willing to push the issue further Monday.

Republican Commissioner Steve Basar joined the six Democrats in delaying the committee assignments in September. But Basar indicated last week his vote was to honor a request for delay by a fellow commissioner.

Basar also said he took political heat from his fellow Republican commissioners for voting with the Democrats.

Ford’s election as chairman marks the third instance in as many years in which a commissioner of one party has been elected chairman with a majority of votes coming from commissioners of the other party.

That was the case with Democratic Commissioner James Harvey and Republican Commissioner Mike Ritz.

Commission committees recommend actions to the full body in their sessions, which are held the Wednesdays before regular voting meetings. A recommendation by the committee is a suggestion and is not binding on the full commission.

The commission’s committee rules allow any commissioner to sit in on a committee session and vote on recommendations.

In other action Monday, commissioners approved the sale of 19.2 acres in the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park in Southwest Memphis to Illinois Central Railroad Co. at $12,000 per acre. The land is for an expansion of the railroad’s existing intermodal facility in the park.

The commission also gave its permission for the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority to issue a revenue note of up to $7 million to Regions Bank to reimburse the airport authority for money it advanced to pay for improvements to the fuel hydrant system at the airport, including a fuel farm.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 6 6 196
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173
BANKRUPTCIES 42 42 795
BUSINESS LICENSES 2 2 331
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0