Luttrell Says He Won't Sign On to Commission Plans for New School Board.

Commission chair Chism says package is veto-proof and will be implemented; Mike Ritz agrees, says schedule will be kept, predicts Pickler won't be reappointed.

Posted by Jackson Baker on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Mayor Luttrell
  • Mayor Luttrell
As it turned out, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell supplied one of the first in what will undoubtedly turn out to be a series of complications arising in the aftermath of last week’s citywide referendum on transfer of authority for Memphis City Schools to Shelby County Schools.

In a letter dated Monday and dispatched to Shelby County Commission chairman Sidney Chism and the rest of the county commission, Luttrell advised that with “great deliberation” he had chosen not to sign the package, which included an ordinance and two resolutions, that the commission recently passed in order to begin its own plan of transition to an expanded all-county school board.

Luttrell’s stated reason was that the measures — which increased the number of current SCS board members and provided for interviewing, then appointing candidates to fill the new seats — conflict with the Norris-Todd bill, passed by the General Assembly on February 11. That bill, later signed into law by Governor Haslam, provided for a 2 ½-year itinerary toward merger and prescribed a planning commission to which Luttrell and others were to make appointments.

In line with a prior advisory from Kelly Rayne, his appointee as county attorney, Luttrell described Norris-Todd as “the prevailing authority…presumed constitutional until such time that it is successfully challenged.” Luttrell said the commission’s package might also conflict with the county charter and with 1923 private acts that govern the county school board.

Informed of the letter’s contents, Chism said, “It’s political. Obviously I don’t agree. It’s obvious, too, that the bill {Norris-Todd] is unconstitutional, and it’s hard to imagine that a judge would ignore the will of the people who voted on March 8.” Chism also noted that Luttrell had not attempted to veto the commission package. “His signature doesn’t matter. He knows we would override a veto. We’re going straight ahead with our plans.”

Another commissioner who supports the commission’s merger package is Mike Ritz, a Republican like Luttrell (and like state Senator Mark Norris and state Representative Curry Todd, authors of the Norris-Todd bill). Ritz said of Luttrell, “Maybe he expects us to use the attorney we hired [Leo Bearman] to sue him. We haven’t considered anything like that yet.” Like Chism, Ritz said he doubted any additional actions were required to implement the commission’s package.

“We’re going to follow our schedule — interviewing candidates on March 23rd and appointing members on the 28th.” Ritz said that, in addition to 18 new members representing city districts, the commission would probably reappoint six of the seven current members of the county school board for the remaining seven seats.

“I doubt that [current SCS board chairman] David Pickler could get seven votes,” said Ritz, noting that three commissioners representing District 4, the outer county, had chosen to boycott the commission’s appointment procedures.

Comments (3)

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Time to check the law on recall information. Time to go Mr. Luttrell, you will see how well democrats will organize.

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Posted by No Label on 03/14/2011 at 11:04 PM

If it's truly veto proof, as Chism and Ritz say, then Luttrell is protecting his voting base and shows that he definitely plans to run for re-election. He needs those county votes and is catering to the suburbanites. Of course, he is weakening his City support as well.

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Posted by memphis watchdog on 03/15/2011 at 7:47 AM

What's the purpose of ranting "he'll see how democrats will organize?" Why don't you put your energy into getting actively invovled in coming up with solutions instead of just complaining and threatening? Whether you voted for an official or not, that's who is in the office and we have to work TOGETHER, liberal and conservative, to help make decisions. We have to be a PART of the process - not just sit back and comment about the choices they make.

Imagine having a comment post log about how well you're doing your job everday. I'm sure all of us would hate to have such scrutiny on our performances. Gain some perspective on the huge task at hand.

Opinions and ranting don't cause change - they just stir up negative energy. Mature adults work together. Even if you disagree with a decision - you have to work with the framework in which you have and ADJUST. We work with our differences of opinion to negotiate the best solution. There are no quick fixes and no ONE right answer. Welcome to the real world.

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Posted by Civic Minded on 03/16/2011 at 12:44 PM
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