Commissioners establish rules to oust chairman - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners establish rules to oust chairman

A fiery exchange during a Shelby County Commission meeting started when members couldn't agree on a new voting map and it escalated into an all out redistricting war. A fiery exchange during a Shelby County Commission meeting started when members couldn't agree on a new voting map and it escalated into an all out redistricting war.

(WMC-TV) – The most fiery exchange many people said they had ever seen during a Shelby County Commission meeting started when members couldn't agree on a new voting map and it escalated into an all out redistricting war.

Shelby County Commissioner Brent Taylor lashed back at Commissioners Terry Roland and Mike Ritz during a committee meeting for claiming he tried to bribe members in a redistricting compromise.

"These baseless bribery allegations leveled by Commissioners Ritz and Roland are not only dishonorable and despicable, but I find them disgusting," Taylor said during Wednesday's meeting.

Taylor said a legal opinion by the county attorney proved he did nothing wrong and then he surprised the commission with an aggressive action – calling for their censure.

"This board hereby publicly censures and rebukes Commissioner Mike Ritz and Commissioner Terry Roland," Taylor said after the censure had been approved by the committee.

Before the commission committee voted, Taylor turned the tables on Roland by playing a voice message where it appeared Roland was unhappy with a redistricting map and wanted Taylor to vote with him.

"It's got Millington drawn in with Frayser and Raleigh," Roland could be heard saying on the message.

Meanwhile, Roland said the allegations of bribery came about because the newspaper misquoted him.

"I said ‘Some of my commissioners are calling it a compromise and some are calling it a bribe,'" he said.

Ritz, on the other hand, remained quiet. But still, the commissioners censured them.

Moments after the censure vote, Commissioner Wyatt Bunker had a surprise add-on.

"The Shelby County Board of Commissioners desires to create a procedure to remove the chair," Bunker said.

He said Commission Chairman Sydney Chism failed to properly schedule redistricting meetings so the commission missed the December 31 deadline.

Chism said he was targeted for not agreeing with the majority on the maps and then brought up race.

"I don't like to go into the racial aspect of it," he said. "I hope to God because I look like what I look like - it's not because of that."

However, Commissioner Justin Ford said it wasn't about race.

"This is not a knock on anybody, but today it's time to pay the piper," he said. "You reap what you sew. You tried rocks at a glass house; you might break something."

Then, not long after it had censured two of its members, the group passed the proposal establishing rules to oust its chairman.

However, neither committee vote is final until the full commission approves them.

Meanwhile, Commissioners Steve Mulroy and Wyatt Bunker clashed over Mulroy's alleged motives for favoring one redistricting map over another.

"There have been rumors you're trying to custom a district for your wife's election," said Bunker.

"The idea that she has the intention in this century or any other century of running for elected office, it's just farcical," Mulroy replied.

After all the debate, commissioners approved a redistricting plan on the first of three readings.

Most still expect the plan approved Wednesday to fail on its final reading.  The redistricting issue may still end up being worked out in the courts.

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