VOL. 130 | NO. 225 | Wednesday, November 18, 2015
County Commission Overrides Veto of Legal Counsel Resolution
With a vote to spare Wednesday, Nov. 18, Shelby County commissioners overrode county Mayor Mark Luttrell’s veto of their resolution to hire their own legal counsel.
The 9-3 veto override vote during a special meeting of the body followed a debate about whether the commission can and should hire its own attorney.
Luttrell and county attorney Ross Dyer contend the county charter bars the commission from doing what the Memphis City Council did in the mid-1990s.
Commissioners who favor the veto override argue that having legal counsel separate from the county attorney’s office is legal and necessary for the independence of the body. The county attorney is appointed by the mayor.
“This is about making sure we can keep the balance of power and the legislative branch can act independently,” commissioner Heidi Shafer said.
Commissioner Mark Billingsley argued that the position was not well-defined and the job should have been posted. He also expressed doubts about hiring former Shelby County Commissioner Julian Bolton for the position.
“What you do is risk putting a 14th county commissioner on the body,” he said. “If you do that, you are basically asking a fish not to swim.”
Luttrell could take the issue to Chancery Court in a lawsuit against the commission.
– Bill Dries