Council vote on Jefferson could be tough for Lowery

Myron Lowery
Myron Lowery
Elbert Jefferson
Elbert Jefferson

By Nick Kenney - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The showdown at Memphis City Hall that started with Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery attempting to remove City Attorney Elbert Jefferson from office is now in the hands of the City Council.

Wednesday, a judge ruled Lowery never had the authority to remove Jefferson without Council approval.

But according to Memphis Flyer political analyst Jackson Baker, getting that approval may not be easy.

"Right now, there's a stalemate - six whites versus six blacks on certain issues," Baker said. "And Myron Lowery's one of those issues."

In fact, Baker said, Lowery will have difficulty passing anything, much less firing the City Attorney within the first five minutes of taking office.  But Larry Moore, a professor at the University of Memphis, says there's no way to predict what will happen.

"We'll know when the votes are taken," he said.

Thursday, Action News 5 polled current City Council members to see where they stand of the vote. Citing ethical and legal reasons, none were willing to reveal how they might vote.  But sources inside City Hall believe the Jefferson vote will fall down racial lines, with six African American council members voting to keep Jefferson on board, and five white council members voting to fire him.

Lawyer and councilman Jim Strickland represents a client locked in a lawsuit with the city, so he does not vote on any issues regarding the legal department, and will not on this one.

"This is a good way to test his power with the Council," Moore said of Lowery.

But Baker argues it's a test Lowery may have already failed.

"It could be when we look back on this period of time, the attempted firing of Elbert Jefferson - which totally flopped - will be the death knell of Myron Lowery's campaign," he said.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.