Commissioner seeks to mediate with Mayor Luttrell

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - More controversy Wednesday in Shelby County Commission chambers over an ongoing opioid lawsuit that has some commissioners and chairwoman Heidi Shafer sparring with the mayor. Shafer is now asking Mayor Mark Luttrell to go to mediation.

"I'm not going to have my constituents pay for this ridiculous, ridiculous circus," said Mark Billingsley, county commissioner.

Commissioners were back in a specially called meeting Wednesday, contentious at times, overriding by an 8-5 vote vetoes by Mayor Mark Luttrell  dealing with the commission's actions to move forward with a controversial lawsuit over the opioid epidemic. But not all commissioners even wanted to take these votes.

"I don't believe overriding this does anything for our position, if anything, it has downsides for our position," said David Reaves, county commissioner.

Chancellor Jim Kyle on Monday issued a temporary injunction stopping the commission from taking any further action in the suit.

"We're prohibited from doing that in my opinion. We're in the wrong lane. This is an executive function," said Walter Bailey, county commissioner.

Kyle previously ruled earlier this month that the lawsuit and effort led by chairwoman Heidi Shafer is legally the responsibility of Mayor Mark Luttrell and not the commission. Shafer said the mayor wasn't moving fast enough to combat the opioid epidemic and that's why a majority of commissioners pushed the issue.

"This system of government is working like it should," Shafer said, "I've seen glaciers that have moved faster than he's moved on this issue."

Shafer sent Luttrell a letter Tuesday offering to mediate with former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice George Brown. We're told Luttrell is still reviewing the request.

"I don't know about the specific proposal, but certainly we're agreeable to working it out," said Harvey Kennedy, Shelby County Chief Administrative Officer.

The matter will be back before Chancellor Kyle on Friday, according to commission staff.  In her letter Shafer indicates that she wants mediation to start next week.

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