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VOL. 133 | NO. 169 | Monday, August 27, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: End of Term, After The Testimony and John McCain

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County commissioners meet Monday for what is the last regularly scheduled meeting of their four-year term of office. Eight of the 13 commissioners are leaving the body of 13 at the end of this month as is Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

The first seven items on Monday’s agenda are resolutions honoring those leaving county government with the end of the term as well as county commission staff who are marking milestones in years of service, many remaining for the coming of a new majority among the commissioners.

The commission will also vote on overriding the veto by Luttrell of the commission ordinance approved earlier this month that limits the county mayor’s ability to hire outside legal counsel. So, a mix of the symbolic and some current issues that could have an effect on the new mayor and new county commission. You can follow the meeting live @tdnpols for all of the action.

The commission also has an issue likely to stick around for the new commission and mayor about what happens to all of those annexation reserve areas the seven municipal mayors within the county carved out long ago now that there is no more annexation by ordinance and only annexation by referendum of those to be annexed.

The battleground here is the Quinn Road proposed development that is just outside the town of Collierville in its annexation reserve area. The developer is arguing the annexation reserve agreement gives the town of Collierville no control over such development any longer. The town, represented in the matter by state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, argues that the reserve area agreement does affect the plans and is more complex than simply a map of where the seven cities in the county intended to annex before the unlikely prospect that those to be annexed would consent to it.

If there is a decision Monday by the commission, whichever side loses there could be in court with this by the time the leaves start to fall. No matter who holds the seats on the commission there is always a tendency on the commission and the city council to try to get two sides in such a dispute to work out a compromise rather than having the body pick a winner and a loser. For that reason, a delay is likely on this Monday.

We also expect the departing county commissioners will have plenty to say about their time on the commission and the state of the institution. The eight leaving including five who served the term limit of two consecutive terms, one who chose to leave it at one term, another who left the commission to run for countywide office and still another who lost his re-election bid in the May primaries. So there is at least the promise of some different perspectives on all of this.

Those returning to the commission and the new commissioners as well as most of a whole new set of countywide elected officials take the oath of office Thursday afternoon at the Cannon Center in two ceremonies that take place ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

Here is the rest of The Week Ahead.

The issue of Memphis Police surveillance of protesters probably won’t be in the public eye as much for about the next month or so. The testimony in last week’s trial before U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla is done. But briefs from both sides in the lawsuit by the ACLU Tennessee against the city are due by Sept. 24. After that McCalla is expected to rule on whether the ACLU has standing and if it does he will then rule on sanctions against the Memphis Police Department. Between now and then, you may see the city administration make some changes in its policy on protests – in effect trying to anticipate how McCalla may rule and include in its final brief that the city has already taken corrective action.

Meanwhile, the city – through its attorneys – is arguing that the 1978 federal court consent decree is a relic that is no longer relevant to the age of social media and how social media has changed the concept of privacy. McCalla addressed this to some degree in his ruling before last week’s trial when he said the city had conducted “political surveillance” of protesters as defined by the consent decree that forbids it and thus had violated the decree. He said the city could have proposed amendments to the consent decree at any point along the way.

Reaction to the death of Arizona Senate and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain:

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander: “There is usually one United States Senator who stands above the rest and for the last several years that has been John McCain. His character, courage and devotion to our country have been an example for all of us. Honey and I send our prayers to Cindy and the entire McCain family.”

U.S. Senator Bob Corker: “America lost a statesman and hero tonight and all of us in the Senate lost a friend. John McCain was cantankerous at times – and proud of it – but always fighting to make our nation better. He was a patriot, an inspiration and served in a way that is all too rare in Washington today. My thoughts and prayers are with Cindy and the entire McCain family as they mourn his loss.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen: “John McCain was a man of honor and an American hero. He served his country as a Naval aviator and endured torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors which affected his health for the rest of his life. Returning home, he continued to serve his country in the House and Senate with principles, honesty and integrity and he earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. John McCain was a giant, stood for what was right and stared down bullies. He was a patriot who loved his country and his country mourns his passing. He will be missed.”

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff: “Roberta and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Senator John McCain. Senator McCain was an American hero who served his country in more ways than one throughout his life. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and the American people during this difficult time.”

Catching up on a few political observations. Let’s start with Sam Stockard, our Nashville correspondent, on Bill Lee’s bid for governor in November.

Politico on the U.S. Senate race also on the Nov. 6 ballot between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn and the new concept of a Democratic candidate looking for crossover support in a red state.

Also catching up to this ESPN piece on what Marc Gasol does off the court and far away from Memphis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Here is our Around Memphis reading list for more goodies from other places.

Speaking of other places, Lucky Cat Ramen is no stranger to the Broad Avenue arts district with pop-up enterprise at The Cove space and within the former City & State. This October, Lucky Cat makes a more permanent move to the space that had been Jack Magoo’s.

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