Commissioner storms out of meeting on schools merger - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioner storms out of meeting on schools merger

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Shelby County Commissioner stormed out of a meeting on the proposed Memphis City Schools/Shelby County Schools merger Wednesday, telling reporters the Commission was wasting taxpayer dollars.

As always, members of the local Memphis media stood outside the Shelby County Commission committee room during their attorney-client privilege meeting.  But in the middle of the meeting, Commissioner Terry Roland left, frustrated.

"I'm going to let you all know," he said. "I'm going to let the folks know everything that's going on behind these closed doors."

Roland said he was obligated to let his District 4 constituents know about a costly injustice.

"Five hundred and ten dollars an hour," he said, claiming how much taxpayers had spent for the two hour meeting.  "Folks! Ya'll are paying for this right now."

Commissioners hired a private attorney to represent the Commission on Memphis and Shelby County school merger matters.

"We're hiring lawyers to sue ourselves, which is absolutely crazy," Roland said. "We've got a word for that up in North Shelby County.  It's called ignorance."

But some commissioners contend that having the county attorney representing both the commission and the mayor on the school merger matters would be a conflict.  The majority of the commission supports the merger. though the mayor does not.

"Why are we spending this tremendous amount of money on these attorneys when we have all these attorneys here that are very capable?" Roland asked.

Roland told reporters what was discussed in Wednesday's meeting.

"We argued for an hour over whether there's a conflict," he said.

Later, Commissioner Steve Mulroy said Roland's actions were highly inappropriate.

"I think there is a reason why we have an attorney-client privilege and why the courts established an attorney-client exception to the Open Meetings Act," he said.

Mulroy said government officials must draw the line with media when it comes to attorney-client privilege.

Roland, meanwhile, wants transcripts of every meeting, and says plans to share them with the media.  But other commissioners are researching whether or not he would be out of bounds for doing so.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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