A group of future Memphis Chart Commission members met informally for the first time Tuesday afternoon at the Crescent Center. It was supposed to be a meeting of hand-shakes while sipping iced tea, because officially, the group is not yet a working body.
"First, we have to be certified by the election commission," said Charter Commission-elect George Brown. Secondly, we must be sworn in by some body that has the authority to swear us in."
The Memphis City Council will swear in the seven charter commissioners, but before the commissioners can being going over the city's charter with a fine-toothed comb, they'll need some questions answered.
"Who's going to pay for, let's say for example, that we need to seek outside council?" asked Charter Commission-elect Janis Fullilove. "We may not want council from the city. Who's going to be responsible for that?"
It's not clear if the Charter Commission will be able to get legal council from the city attorney's office, but it is clear that the city council will approve the charter commission's budget.
"The city charter does not contain any language as to how a Charter Commission should be funded or staffed," said City Council and Charter Commission-elect Myron Lowery. "That would fall to then to the Memphis City Council to set those parameters."
Lowery said he does not believe the City Council will try to withhold funding, because the Charter Commission my propose a referendum on issues such as term limits.