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.

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