Here are all the elements for a collision-course drama:
(1) Mayor Willie Herenton has thrown one more potential obstacle in the way of the now duly scheduled special mayoral election. His letter to city attorney Elbert Jefferson states the basis for a claim that city council chairman Myron Lowery has committed a breach of ethics by voting to declare a vacancy in the mayor’s office as of July 31. Chairman Lowery stands to reap financial gain being “mayor pro tem” for 90 days, sez Hizzoner. Really.
(2) With Giannini pressing for a resolution of the election issue on Wednesday, the members of the Election Commission concur unanimously to schedule an election for Tuesday, October 27, with candidate-filing deadline established as noon, September 17, and withdrawal deadline set for noon, September 24. To placate members who wish to conserve county resources in the event of more mayoral back-and-forthing and other complications, no staff work is authorized until July 31, the presumed date after Herenton’s vacating office and the date established by the council as the official vacancy date.
(3) Asked point-blank what can stop the election, Giannini says only a judge or a reversal of position on the part of the council. Mayor Herenton cannot.
That’s the situation: Mayor Herenton, who has packed his office belongings but has written no formal letter of resignation and continues to insist on his right to a change of mind, has been challenged as powerless to halt proceedings at this point. The die has, in other words, been cast, and the effect of this upon the famously headstrong Willie Herenton remains to be seen.
Will Herenton petition the courts? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out the following two video excerpts of Giannini’s explanation to the gathered media on Wednesday at the Election Commission’s Nixon Drive office.