Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Police Called as County Commissioners Quarrel Over Redistricting in Collierville

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Commissioner Terry Roland threatens colleague Chris Thomas midway of an attack on colleague Brent Taylor

As the issue of redistricting the Shelby County Commission remains unresolved and bounces back and forth between a divided commission and Chancery Court, nerves of commissioners are fraying and disagreements hit the danger level.

A few days after Commissioner Terry Roland was confronted by several of his Republican colleagues at a meeting of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, a reprise of sorts occurred Tuesday night at a meeting of the Collierville Republican Club at the La Hacienda Restaurant on Highway 72/Poplar Avenue in Collierville.

Roland, the club's featured speaker Tuesday night and a proponent of a two-member district plan, had barely launched into his remarks when he ran into vocal challenges from fellow Republican commissioners Wyatt Bunker, Chris Thomas, and Heidi Shafer, all of whom took exception to Roland's account of how the disagreement came about and what its meaning was.

The word "lie" was hurled repeatedly at Roland by the others before club officials restored a semblance of order, but a running dialogue between Roland and his fellow commissioners continued and became heated.

In the clip above, Roland appears to blame his new interim colleague Brent Taylor (who was also present) for the current impasse between Roland himself and h is allies, on the one hand, and several GOP colleagues who prefer a three-member district plan, on the other. Midway of his allegations against Taylor, however, Roland apparently thought Thomas muttered something disrespectful about his father or perhaps rolled his eyes as Roland began telling a story about taking Taylor with him to visit the grave of the senior Roland, who was recently deceased.

Whatever the pretext, Roland theatened Thomas that he would "knock you out of that chair," but quickly moved on to the case he was building against Taylor.

At some point, however, Commissioner Bunker tried to convince Thomas that he should charge Roland with assault and, on his own, called Collierville police. Four policemen would shortly arrive in two police cars and, upon the conclusion of the meeting (which continued with bitter disagreements hurled back and forth) interrogated Roland about the incident and apparently asked Thomas if he wanted to press charges. Thomas declined to.

The subject of redistricting will be taken up yet one more time during committee hearings Wednesday.

The essential disagreement between Roland and his GOP colleagues is apparently based on their preference for a plan more congenial to Republicans. Roland, who maintains that his plan guarantees four suburban members of the Commission, insists that his plan is equally GOP-friendly.

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