School Issue Still Simmering on County Commission

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Terry Roland
  • JB
  • Terry Roland
The school-merger issue, and the legal opposition to municipal school districts, embodied in a suit brought by a majority of the Shelby County Commission, continues to simmer in meetings of the Commission, where Millington Republican Terry Roland, one of five dissenters from the legal action to block the schools, has launched a series of attacks against the Baker Donelson law firm formally representing the Commission.

In a letter to U.S.Attorney Ed Stanton III, Roland charged the firm with “conspiracy” in attempting to profit from the litigation and with holding meetings in secret. “Each action Baker Donelson takes forces other issues and as a direct result their billable hours increase,” said Roland, accusing the law firm of involvement in ”a conspiracy to use taxpayers [sic] money to sue themselves….”

On behalf of Baker Donelson Sam Berry Blair wrote to Stanton denying Roland’s contentions and saying, “…[H]e makes these allegations in an attempt to obtain personal publicity. Also, he appears frustrated that he cannot garner enough votes to have the Shelby County Commission take actions which he personally supports.”

Astonishingly, the oft contentious Commission needed only one ballot to fill each of two vacancies on the Shelby County Unified School Board. The new Board members are Oscar Love in District 3 and Mary Anne Gibson in District 5.

The Commission reverted to form, however, in failing to agree on some rules changes relating to the choice of a new Commission administrator to replace the now departed Steve Summerall. One change would alter the selection date for administrative staffs from the beginning of a Commission term to midway in such a term. Another change would allow the new administrator to name the rest of the Commission’s support staff. As of now, both the administrator and an assistant administrator are independently elected by the Commission.

With Commissioners Roland and Henri Brooks expressing misgivings, evidently concerned that unspecified political ends were being cloaked in procedural terms, action on the procedural changes, brought by Commissioner Steve Mulroy, was deferred for two weeks.

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