MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland recognized the irony during Monday's commission meeting.
"Who would have ever thought at the end of the day me and the Commercial Appeal would be on the same side?" wondered Roland.
But he led the charge to try and withdraw a subpoena seeking the identities of people who posted racially charged comments on the Commercial Appeal's 45 school merger stories dating back to 2010.
"I mean, where does it stop?" asked Roland. "Folks, this is dangerous."
At issue is whether those commenters influenced legislation in Nashville regarding the possible creation of municipal districts which the county commission is fighting in court.
"I mean, this is an outrage to me," said Commissioner Chris Thomas.
The debate lasted until nearly every commissioner had his or her say.
"I really don't think this whole portion of the case is really worth the taxpayer money being spent," said Commissioner Heidi Shafer.
In the end, commissioners hoping to stop the subpoena were outnumbered 8 to 5 by those who believe lawyers should be left to do their jobs.
"It certainly doesn't promote respect for the judicial system," said Commissioner Walter Bailey.
Others said absolute anonymity may not apply to comments in the newspaper.
"Nine times out of 10 what you say in private is closer to the truth," said commissioner Steve Mulroy. "And that's what we're trying to get at here, the truth."
Commissioners suggested names could still be kept private under a court order even if the subpoena is successful.
How they voted:
In favor of subpoena: Bailey, Burgess, Ritz, Ford, Mulroy, Brooks, Chism, Harvey
Against subpoena: Taylor, Roland, Thomas, Shafer, Bunker