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The Jefferson Saga & Byrd Is In County Mayor’s Race

The latest from City Hall on this very busy City Council day is that the council will take up the fate of City Attorney Elbert Jefferson at its full session at 3:30 pm. Jefferson made a brief appearance at morning committee sessions. But the council quickly decided to put off a committee discussion and do all of this “downstairs” as the council says in describing items that will go to the full body without committee discussion. Jefferson has indicated he will need an hour to tell his side of the story which includes an accounting of $55,000 in legal fees he ordered paid to the attorney representing former Mayor Willie Herenton in a federal investigation of Herenton’s private finances.
This morning, Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery sent a memo to the council that reads:
“I have previously indicated my desire to terminate the services of Elbert Jefferson. Recent developments simply underscore my previous request. I also wish to reiterate that I am not asking that Mrs. (Veronica) Coleman-Davis be confirmed as City Attorney, but that the council simply accepts my recommendation to terminate Elbert Jefferson.”
The memo has caused a slight but important change in the wording of the council resolution, proposed by Bill Morrison, that would fire Jefferson. Instead of simply firing Jefferson, the resolution now makes it clear that the resolution “approves (Lowery’s) termination of Elbert Jefferson from the office of City Attorney.”
There is lots going on with several other political fronts.
Watch the Wednesday edition of The Daily News for the latest of the city mayor’s race. Several of the contenders are now focusing some of their rhetorical fire on not only rival and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. but the idea of consolidation as well.
And just in the old e-mail bag within the last few minutes, a statement and link to a video in which Harold Byrd declares he is running for Shelby County Mayor in 2010. This comes the same week that outgoing Shelby County Commission Deidre Malone is expected to kick off her bid in the 2010 Democratic primary for County Mayor as well.

What Might Happen Tuesday: Elbert Jefferson Vote

For anyone counting votes in advance of Tuesday’s Memphis City Council meeting – during which the council is scheduled to take action on whether to boot City Attorney Elbert Jefferson from office – here’s one forecast on how it could shake out.

There’s a strong possibility the vote on Councilman Bill Morrison’s resolution authorizing Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery to cut Jefferson loose could result in a tie vote.

For council resolutions to pass, they have to have support from a majority of councilmen present for the vote. Ordinances, on the other hand, need a majority of the body – seven votes – regardless of how many are in the room at the moment a vote is taken.

A tie vote on the Jefferson resolution Tuesday would mean it dies, and the City Attorney lives to fight another day.

There are 13 City Council members. Lowery is not voting while serving as the city’s temporary mayor. Councilman Jim Strickland regularly abstains from votes relating to the city’s legal division because of case work he has involving the city.

That’s two down, leaving 11 council members in play. For the Jefferson resolution to succeed, six of those members would have to support it.

Morrison, the sponsor of the resolution, will no doubt support it. Councilmen Kemp Conrad, Bill Boyd, Shea Flinn and Reid Hedgepeth also can be expected to line up in support.

Council members Barbara Swearengen-Ware, Joe Brown, Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert and Ed Ford Jr. are either definite or likely candidates to oppose the resolution.

That’s a lineup of five to five.

At this point, it seems like the deciding factor is City Council chairman Harold Collins.

Collins has made comments to reporters over the last few days that can be interpreted as critical of Jefferson’s recent actions. But Collins also is a special assistant to Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons, whose office has opened an investigation into Jefferson’s recent actions – meaning Collins could decide to recuse himself.

That would leave things at 5-5, killing the measure.

We’ll see what happens Tuesday.

Try Again — How Many In The Mayor’s Race?

First of all, thank you for your patience as we wrestled with conflicting numbers and names in the field of mayoral contenders after today’s filing deadline.
And now, a word or two of explanation.
For those of you who saw the story on our website change several times in substantial ways between noon and around 7 pm Thursday, welcome to the uncertainty that comes in the wake of the deadline.
What’s different is that it unfolded with near real time reporting. There are usually two central items of interest at the filing deadline — surprises and the number of candidates. In this case there were no surprises. That left the number of candidates. And that can be a hard detail to nail down with petitions that are scrutinized line by line by Election Commission staff. It takes time and in some cases, candidates get another page or so for more signatures that can be filed at a later date. In one case, the later page of signatures got separated from the original petition. Thus Sharon Webb’s abrupt departure from the race and then her abrupt re-entry.
There could be even more changes between now and the withdrawal deadline — noon Sept. 10. Candidates sometimes contest their disqualification and sometimes they win the challenge.
The Oct. 15 election will be our first with Twitter and we’ll learn even more with that experience.
Politics is an area of coverage that seems, at least to me, to be uniquely suited to the revolution underway in how we get this vital information to you. Those changes are in turn demanding changes in the way we report. We are evolving on both fronts.

Dansette

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