Commissioners decline to censure clerks over money issues

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners spent an hour in a spirited debate Monday as they tried to decide whether or not to censure the General Sessions and Probate Court clerks.

"We do need to make it a point of letting the public know these people have not followed their commitments to the taxpayers, to the voters and to the citizens of Shelby County," interim Commissioner John Pelicciotti said.

Pelicciotti drew up a resolution to censure General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson because the court has a $3.2 million bank discrepancy.  He also wanted to censure Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas, saying he failed to reconcile that court's Bonds and Investments.

But fellow commissioners were not behind him.

"If you go down that road, there will never be an end to it," Commissioner Sydney Chism said.

"I am going to make a motion to table both items," Commissioner Wyatt Bunker added.

With Pelicciotti running against Thomas for County Commission, and Jackson running for county mayor, several commissioners felt Peliciotti's motives were political.

"So what we're doing is using our office to make a statement," Commissioner James Harvey said.

Commissioners pointed out the county has known the court system had a faulty money software system, which caused discrepancies, for some time.  In the end, not one commissioner voted in favor of the resolution.  Even Pelicciotti voted "no" on his own resolution, after accepting the Jackson's explanation and abstaining from the vote to censure Thomas, because of the conflict of interest that Thomas is his opponent.

"It's pretty obvious it was a political charade," Jackson said. "The commissioners could see through it, and hopefully the public can see through it, too."

Meanwhile, Thomas called the censure attempt "a cheap political stunt in an election year."

But Pelicciotti held firm.

"I will not put up with people not managing the county's money appropriately," he said.

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