VOL. 130 | NO. 14 | Thursday, January 22, 2015
Boyd Gets Encore as City Council Member
By Bill Dries
After serving less than a year on the Memphis City Council in 2011, Berlin Boyd is back on the council and working toward a longer stay.
Boyd was the pick of the other 12 council members Tuesday, Jan. 20, to fill the District 7 vacancy created when Lee Harris resigned to take his seat in the state Senate.
It took two rounds of voting by the council for Boyd to emerge from the pack of six nominees with the seven votes necessary to claim the seat. His only rival on the second ballot was Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Bryan Carson, who got five votes.
Boyd, a businessman whose last political outing was an unsuccessful challenge of long-serving Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey in the 2014 Democratic county primaries, still has outspoken views about many who practice politics.
Once he picked up his paperwork to be considered for the council appointment, Boyd repeated an observation he made in 2011 when he won the council appointment the first time.
“I think ‘poly’ means many and ticks are blood-sucking parasites,” Boyd said in 2011 and again this month. “We do not need that in the city of Memphis.”
During his time on the council in 2011, Boyd got along well with other council members, all of whom are still on the council and were voting Tuesday.
Boyd serves the 11 months left in Harris’s term of office and he will be among those running for the district seat and a full four-year term of office in the October city elections.
Boyd was appointed to the council on an interim basis in 2011 following the indictment of council member Barbara Swearengen Ware on an official misconduct charge. In that instance, Boyd did not seek election to the council seat in the 2011 city elections.
Ware and prosecutors later agreed to a diversion deal in which she admitted no guilt. Before that she was the first council member to be automatically suspended for suspected wrongdoing under recent changes to the city charter. And some of the same council members voting on Tuesday’s vacancy and who appointed Boyd in 2011 had also urged Ware to resign her seat sooner than she did.
Ware was among the six candidates who applied for the vacancy, telling her one-time council colleagues that she had “a burning desire to pick up where I left off.”
“I have the same commitment. I have the same desire. I have the same love for District 7,” she said. “I want another opportunity.”
Ware got one vote in the first round of balloting from council member Janis Fullilove. Because she didn’t get at least two votes in that round, Ware did not advance to the second round under council rules.
Meanwhile, the $41.8 million settlement of the six-year-old schools funding legal standoff approved by council members Tuesday could go to the Shelby County Schools board for final approval next week.
The council approved the settlement worked out in court-supervised mediation two weeks after it ignored a proposed $43.1 million settlement put up by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. outside the mediation process.
The overall dollar amount reflects cash as well as credits that are part of the agreement which now awaits approval by the Shelby County Schools board as the final hurdle. The school board had approved Wharton’s earlier version.
In the council plan, the city would pay Shelby County Schools $8 million from the city’s reserve fund by mid February and then pay a total of $20 million more in annual payments of $1.3 million for the following 15 fiscal years, by mid-February in each of those years.
The city would also continue to pay principal and interest on a 1998 bond issue that was part of the city’s legal counterclaim against the $57 million judgment the school system won in Chancery Court and on appeal. The school system won the court judgment after the council cut schools funding in 2008 in violation of state law.
The principal and interest on the 17-year old bond issue comes to $8 million. There is a credit to the city for continuing Memphis police services in schools valued at $2 million.
There could be a credit in the city’s favor of $1.3 million if the school system opts to continue Memphis Police services in schools beyond the 2015-2016 school year.
And the city agrees to spend up to $3.8 million on school system construction projects on a one-time only basis.
The settlement approved by the council differs from Wharton’s proposal by $1.4 million and uses the same structure of a large immediate payment with smaller installment payments after that.
The biggest difference is in the cash part of the settlement with the city paying $4.7 million less in the proposal that surfaced Tuesday compared to the earlier proposal.