County Commission in Busy Reorganization Session


Announcing joint Commission-Council initiative on police shootings were, l to r: Commissioner/Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., and Commissioners Tami Sawyer, Mickell Lowery, and Van Turner (Commission chair). - JB
  • JB
  • Announcing joint Commission-Council initiative on police shootings were, l to r: Commissioner/Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., and Commissioners Tami Sawyer, Mickell Lowery, and Van Turner (Commission chair).

Anyone who wondered if District 7 County Commissioner Tami Sawyer would maintain her social activism in office can rest assured: She’s still on the case.

The point was made over and over on Wednesday during the second committee session held so far by the group of Shelby County Commissioners elected on August 2 and installed on August 30.

The well-known all-purpose reform advocate, best known for spearheading last year’s citizen campaign to remove Confederate statuaries downtown was much in evidence on Wednesday in numerous ways. These ranged from an insistence that routine county lawn-mowing contracts up for renewal be open to racial minorities to a repudiation of the former County administration’s wish to end federal oversight of Juvenile Court to an add-on resolution that would seek the automatic involvement of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in shooting incidents involving local law enforcement.

The add-on resolution, keyed to the Monday shooting of Martavius Banks, was intended as a joint one to be coordinated with the Memphis City Council. It was co-sponsored by District 9 Commissioner Ed Ford, who for the time being continues to serve as the District 6 member on the Council and, at the behest of new Commission chair Van Turner, is serving as a kind of official liaison between the two elected local bodies.

Sawyer and Ford were joined at a mid-afternoon announcement of the joint initiative in the lobby of the Vasco Smith County Administration Building by Commissioner Mickell Lowery of District 8 and chairman Turner, who represents Commission District 12.

Ultimately, noted Turner, the involvement of the TBI in investigating shooting cases, once approved by the Council as well as the Commission, would require action by the General Assembly in Nashville to become official.

Wednesday’s committee sessions were notable also for the presence of Mayor Lee Harris and County CAO Patrice Williamson-Thomas, who announced the appointment of former Juvenile Court magistrate Marlinee Clark Iverson to be new County Attorney. Harris also made known his intention to appoint an educational liaison official to coordinate communication between the various individuals, agencies and institutions involved with public education in Shelby County.

The Mayor also formally affirmed his decision, announced earlier, to name former Memphis City Attorney Herman Morris as Settlement Coordinator for the 2012 Memorandum of Agreement between Shelby County, the U.S Department of Justice, and Juvenile Court. Morris will replace Judge Paul Summers, whose contract for that role will expire in October.

Harris’ announcement, coupled with the Commission’s vote on Wednesday to formally recall the second of two letters written by former Mayor Mark Luttrell last year seeking an end to federal oversight of Juvenile Court operations, formally denotes a renewed solidarity of Mayor and Commission in committing Shelby County government to the path of reform mandated by DOJ. The 2012 Memorandum came in the wake of an investigation by the Justice Department that found a pattern of racial inequities and administrative irregularities in need of correction.

In one of several reorganization measures approved on Wednesday, the Commision authorized Chairman Turner to select an Assistant County Attorney to serve as Legislative Services Director to the Board of Commissioners. Turner announced that his choice for that position would be current Assistant County Attorney Marcy Ingram, who, he said, had been unjustly passed over twice for the position of County Attorney.

It would appear that Ingram’s appointment to directly serve the Commission in that capacity, officially fulfilling a desire held by the former Board of Commissioners and resisted by former Mayor Luttrell, would require at least the tacit consent of Mayor Harris and County Attorney Williamson-Thomas.

Turner also announced committee assignments for the new Commission on Wednesday. These, several of which gave Sawyer ample scope, were:

Budget and Finance — Eddie Jones, chair; Edmund Ford, vice chair.
Public Works — Mickell Lowery, chair; David Bradford vice chair.
Hospitals & Health — Reginald Milton, chair.
Law Enforcement, Corrections & Courts — Tami Sawyer, chair; Mark Billingsley, vice chair.
Land Use Planning, Transportation & Codes Enforcement — Edmund Fordk chair; David Bradford vice chair.
Education — Michel Whaley, chair; Tami Sawyer, vice chair.
Economic Development and Tourism — Willie Brooks, chair; Mickell Lowery, vice chair.,
Community Services — Brandon Morrison, chair; Tami Sawyer, vice chair.
Conservation — Mick Wright, chair; Amber Mills, vice chair.
General Government — Mark Billingsley, chair; Mickell Lowery, vice chair.
Legislative Affairs — Amber Mills, chair; Mark Billingsley, vice chair.
Audit — Eddie Jones, chair; Edmund Ford, vice chair.
Delinquent Tax Property — Amber Mills, chair; Reginald Milton, vice chair.
Equal Opportunity/MWBE/LOSB — Van Turner, chair; Tami Sawyer, vice chair.
Facilities, Real Property and Capital Improvement — David Bradford, chair; Michael Whaley, vice chair.
Workforce Development and CEP Grants — Eddie Jones, chair; Brandon Morrison, vice chair.

And the chairman also made appointments to various inter-agency boards and commissions. These were:

Aging Commission of the Mid-South — Reginald Milton
Agricenter Commission — David Bradford
Chickasaw Basin Authority — Amber Mills
EDGE Board — Willie Brooks
EOC appeals board — Tami Sawyer, Eddie Jones, and Commission CAO Quran Folsom
Downtown Memphis Commission — Mickell Lowery
Juvenile Court Committee — Tami Sawyer
Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau Board — Eddie Jones
Public Records Commission — Commission CA Quaran Folsom
Shelby County Agricultural Extension Committee — Mick Wright, Amber Mills, David Bradford
Shelby County Beer Board — Brandon Morrison
Shelby County Retirement Board — Commission CAO Quran folsom, Eddie Jones
Shelby Farms Park Conservancy — Mark Billingsley, Michael Whaley
Tennessee County Commissioners Association — Amber Mills

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