UPDATE: Responding to a surprise protest from member Diane George that he might have done an end run around the state’s Open Meetings Law in announcing ten top scorers from among 19 nominations by Board members for membership on the Norris-Todd Planning Commission, chairman David Pickler on Thursday obliged her by calling for a revote from scratch.
Sentiment on the Board was clearly with Pickler rather than with George (several members maintaining that their roles were purely advisory and that Pickler had authority under Norris-Todd to make the appointments on his own), but at the chairman’s insistence, the revote was held.
After the votes were tallied, the five SCS members to the 21-member Planning Commission were named: They were (in order of votes received) Ricky Jeans, a parent and member of the SCS “Hall of Fame;” Richard Holden, former SCS operations chief¸and Bartlett mayor Keith McDonald (tied for second); former SCS adminisrrator Katie Stanton; and former Shelby County Commissioner Tommy Hart.
Board members react to George’s protest.
In a significant break with the pattern established by previous groups’ nominations to the Norris-Todd Planning Commission, which have run substantially to educationists per se, the ten finalists being considered by the Shelby County Schools Board are heavily political.
The list, from whom five nominees were scheduled to be selected at a noon Thursday meeting of the SCS Board includes several current and former public officials.
The most surprising name — at least to one critic of the list, Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy — is that of Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald, who is in avowed pursuit of a special school district for his city when merger between SCS and Memphis City Schools is completed on September 1, 2013.
“That seems to me to violate the spirit of Norris-Todd, which is intended to facilitate merger, not fragmentation,” said Mulroy.
Besides McDonald, others on the finaiists’ list are: former Shelby County Commissioner Tommy Hart; former SCS operations supervisor Richard Holden; Ricky Jeans; Jeff Norris; Chris Price; former Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout; Katie Stanton; Kay Williams; and former Shelby County Republican chairman Lang Wiseman.
Mulroy, who did not disclose how he came by the finalists’ names, also questioned what he called a “lack of public input” in making the nominations.
At a meeting of the SCS Board last week, chairman David Pickler had asked each Board member to submit names of prospective nominees. The finalists’ list of ten was apparently distilled from the Board members’ contributions.
When the SCS Board makes its selection of five Planning Commission members from the finalists’ list at the Thursday noon meeting, only the member to be designated by state Senate Speaker and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey will be lacking.
Previous nominations have come from the MCS Board, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, state House Speaker Beth Harwell, and Governor Bill Haslam.