Schools Standoff: Waiting On Opinions

A very important legal opinion could arrive from Nashville before the end of the year. And it is likely to be central to the entire standoff between Shelby County’s two public school systems.

Shelby County Election Commission chairman Bill Giannini is awaiting a legal opinion from the state election coordinator’s office on several points beyond the question of who would vote in a February referendum on an MCS charter surrender.

The other points include when does the 45-60 day period to hold the special election begin, is there a point at which the MCS board could take back its call for the special election and what is the point of no return for cranking up the machinery of holding an election.

Giannini said the opinion will probably also run through the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for review before it comes to Memphis. But he expects there might be an opinion by the end of this week.

We’ll be working through the holiday weekend on that and other points in what is already shaping up as the top political story of 2011. It’s never too soon for retrospectives in social media. Just in case, we are working on ways to purge this post or at least assign another reporter’s name to it if this all fizzles.

Mayors Wharton and Luttrell will be at Myron Lowery’s annual prayer breakfast on New Year’s day. We’ll have an ear out for any further word from that front.

Lowery’s prayer breakfast became a must cover holiday stop in the 1990s when then Mayor Willie Herenton used it as the point at which to lay out his agenda for the coming year. So far, not much evidence that Luttrell or Wharton share Herenton’s zeal for starting the new year with a heaping helping of controversy.

But our informal survey of several politicos shows that the schools standoff has remained a topic of conversation during what is normally a down time on the calendar for local politics.