Mem­phis City Coun­cil ap­point­ment stale­mate to con­tinue into next week

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Jamie Munks Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

The Mem­phis City Coun­cil stale­mate over a Dis­trict 1 ap­point­ment will last through the week­end, ex­tend­ing an al­ready weeks-long dead­lock over who should serve out the re­main­der of for­mer Dis­trict 1 coun­cil­man Bill Mor­ri­son’s term.

Coun­cil Chair­man Ber­lin Boyd, who was ap­pointed to the coun­cil him­self, said he has a mes­sage for the can­di­dates vy­ing for one of the coun­cil’s three cur­rent va­can­cies: Be knowl­edge­able about city busi­ness and is­sues.

“When I was seek­ing this po­si­tion, if you asked me how many po­lice of­fi­cers we had, if you asked me how much our city bud­get was, guess what? I could an­swer it,” Boyd said Fri­day. “If you asked me about the var­i­ous bud­gets, what’s on our MLGW bill, where do those var­i­ous funds go, guess what? I could an­swer it. If you ask any of these can­di­dates that ap­plied for any of these po­si­tions thus far any­thing about city gov­ern­ment thus far, they can’t an­swer it. But they ex­pect us to sup­port them.”

Boyd set an­other meet­ing for 10 a.m. Tues­day, af­ter the coun­cil was left with­out a quo­rum four days in a row and un­able to vote on the Mem­phis Light, Gas and Wa­ter bud­get, grant funds for po­lice equip­ment and zon­ing cases, among other things. Boyd voiced con­fi­dence on Fri­day that the coun­cil will be able to move for­ward with city busi­ness on Tues­day

“I will tell you this, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Boyd said, when asked what will hap­pen if a quo­rum of mem­bers is not present, as there wasn’t in four con­sec­u­tive at­tempts this week. “Stay tuned.” “We’re do­ing re­search at this mo­ment,” Boyd added. A Nov. 20 City Coun­cil meet­ing fea­tured more than 100 votes on the is­sue and dragged into the early morn­ing hours of the fol­low­ing day, with no can­di­date able to draw the nec­es­sary seven votes. Lon­nie Tread­away and Rhonda Lo­gan emerged as the front-run­ners in a can­di­date pool of six that night.

The dis­cord in­ten­si­fied this week, when the four can­di­dates who sup­port Lo­gan walked out of Tues­day’s reg­u­lar city coun­cil meet­ing af­ter yet an­other Dis­trict 1 ap­point­ment vote. Their de­par­ture left the 13mem­ber coun­cil, which now has three va­can­cies, with­out a quo­rum and un­able to vote on the ap­point­ment or any of the other nearly 60 items on its agenda.

Boyd on Fri­day backed away from sug­ges­tions ear­lier this week about fil­ing a law­suit in Chancery Court, in an ef­fort to “com­pel” the ab­sent mem­bers to at­tend meet­ings.

“I’m hop­ing we can fig­ure this out with­out hav­ing to go that far,” Boyd said. “That’s my goal.”

Tread­away dropped out of the run­ning on Wed­nes­day, but that didn’t nec­es­sar­ily cut a clear path for Lo­gan to the seat. Some coun­cil mem­bers have called for a “con­sen­sus can­di­date,” that a larger num­ber of sit­ting coun­cil mem­bers would sup­port.

The four coun­cil mem­bers who are sup­port­ing Lo­gan, all of whom are African-Amer­i­cans, have raised “pro­por­tion­ate rep­re­sen­ta­tion” on the coun­cil, for the city with a pop­u­la­tion that’s nearly 65 per­cent black.

An at­tempt on Thurs­day to achieve a quo­rum and work through the un­touched Tues­day agenda fell far short of the needed seven mem­bers. Boyd said there have been ef­forts to reach out to the four coun­cil mem­bers who walked out on Tues­day, in­clud­ing through City Coun­cil At­tor­ney Al­lan Wade.

“We have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing in var­i­ous ways to try to find out if they’re will­ing to come back and find out ex­actly the sta­tus of how long this will con­tinue,” Boyd said.

The coun­cil’s fi­nal reg­u­lar meet­ing of the year is sched­uled for Dec. 18, where it is also slated to choose suc­ces­sors for Ed­mund Ford Jr. and Ja­nis Fullilove, who were elected to Shelby County posts in Au­gust and re­signed their City Coun­cil seats last month.

“I think that our process has not failed us at this mo­ment,” Boyd said. “I hope there’s isn’t a di­vide on the ap­point­ments of these next two po­si­tions we have. I hope we can find a can­di­date that can come up and serve and that has knowl­edge about what we’re do­ing.”

Jamie Munks cov­ers Mem­phis city gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics for The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal. She can be reached at [email protected]­mer­cialap­peal.com or 901-529-2536. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @journo_­jamie_.

Mem­phis City Coun­cil hope­ful Rhonda Lo­gan at­tends Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing that ended early. On Tues­day, four coun­cil mem­bers walked out over a con­tro­ver­sial Dis­trict 1 ap­point­ment that Lo­gan hopes to fill. MARK WE­BER / THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

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