jcov40 
Member since Jul 29, 2010


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Re: “Group Explores Review of City Charter

I don't think that anyone can show me that term limits has led to any improvement in city government. Also, I would like to see an outline of what anyone thinks should be changed in the city charter. Jimmie Covington

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by jcov40 on 11/14/2019 at 9:11 PM

Re: “Group Explores Review of City Charter

The charter change that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1968, was only an amendment to the charter, which includes private legislative acts going back to what I would say were the 1860s. The 1968 or PoP charter basically only changed the form of government at the top from a five-member City Commission to a mayor and 13 council members. Other than changes related to that change, it changed little if anything else. If I remember correctly, the 2008 charter revision effort was pretty much a waste of time. I don't think any changes that were made then resulted in any significant improvements in the government's operations. The PoP charter that was developed in 1966 was put together by a group of citizens working outside the government with a major goal of doing away with the old commission form of government and replacing it with a mayor-council government. The citizen group was not a governmental charter commission. The group that was formed to propose the changes in 2008 was an official charter commission whose members were elected by the public. jcov40

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by jcov40 on 11/13/2019 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Not So Super ...

One should always use caution in predicting the racial outcome of elections in Memphis and Shelby County. However, it's my view that the creation of two City Council super districts in the 1990s and the subsequent decisions of a majority African-American councils not to seek a change to a single-member district plan have resulted in the councils having more white members than it otherwise would have?
A bit of history:
When the mayor-council charter went into effect on Jan. 1, 1968, the council consisted of six members elected at large by position and seven members elected in single-member districts. As a result of a voting rights lawsuit filed in the early 1990s, a federal judge ruled that the at large positions were racially discriminatory.
A majority white council submitted the super district plan to the judge and he ordered it into effect for the October 1995 city election. That plan consisted of two super districts with three members each elected by position and a continuation of the seven single-member districts.
Some council members said they believed that members from the smaller single districts tended to focus on the issues of their districts rather than citywide issues and that members from the super districts would take a broader view.
As the above column points out under the super district structure, the city is divided into two large districts and three members are elected from each of the large districts by position.
Since the beginning of this council structure, one of the districts has always elected three African American council members and the other, three white council members.
The order of Judge Jerome Turner, who is now deceased. also required the council to hold a referendum to amend the City Charter by adding a non-discriminatory council plan. He did not order that it be a continuation of the super district plan.
A 7-6 black-white council was elected October 1995.

On Oct. 17, 1995, the still majority white council approved the super district plan to go on the ballot as a charter amendment in November 1996. The vote was a 7-5 white-black split. Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware left before the vote.
The vote angered some black council members. Myron Lowery said there would be time to change it before the referendum. Jerome Rubin said if he could get support, he would bring the issue back up after Jan. 1.

According to a newspaper account:

''There's time for more public discussion on this plan. This council will have the opportunity to vote on this plan any time between now and the referendum in 1996,'' Lowery said. ''The most important thing to me is this council will change in January''

Rubin said it was likely the next council will offer a substitute to voters.

A supporter of single-member districts, Rubin said the super district plan ''is a bad plan.''

He said, ''I have never supported this plan, and I will never support this plan. I don't think it's in the best interest of the overall community.

However, to my knowledge it was never brought up again at least for discussion at a council meeting, which means that in 1996 at least one African-American member would not support any move to revisit the issue.
Since a top goal of many elected officials is to get re-elected, I think it is likely one or more of the black members, once they took office in the new term, decided they were comfortable in their districts and could win re-election in them. Thus they probably were not supportive of going to a full single-member district plan because it would result in all the districts being changed.
Subsequent majority African-American councils, elected in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, also could have voted to put a single-member district plan on a referendum ballot but did not do so. As far as I know, the council never had major public discussion on the issue.
According to census figures, the African-American-white percentages in the city's population were: 1990--55.4-44.0; 2000--61.4-34.4; 2010--63.3-29.9. After the 2015 election, the African-American-white breakdown on the council was still 7-6. It is now 8-5 as a result of one of the white members winning election to a county office last year. The council appointee who took his place on the is African-American.
Runoffs apply only to the smaller district seats and not the super district seats.
The County Commission, which formerly was made of up several multi-member districts and one-single district, voted to go to all single-member districts when redistricting was carried out after the 2010 Census. State law allows commissioners to choose whether they have multi-member or single-member districts without holding a referendum. The council's structure is established in the City Charter, which can be changed only through referendums.
The NAACP and its leaders did not participate in the 1990s' voting rights lawsuit. Their position was that the city was reaching a point in its racial makeup where keeping the at-large positions would result in black candidates winning a strong majority on the council. - Jimmie Covington

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by jcov40 on 09/12/2019 at 8:44 PM

Re: “Challenge the Candidates

In addition to these things, City Council members have treated Memphis citizens unfairly for many years on a very basic level. The council is the only governmental body in Tennessee that makes its actions in meetings subject to the approval of the meetings' minutes. An Internet search also has not turned up any governmental bodies elsewhere in the United States that take this approach. Basically, final votes are not final votes until the minutes are approved. To do away with this requirement, the only thing the council has to do is adopt Robert's Rules of Order for reconsidering items. Under Robert's, an item cannot be reconsidered unless the reconsideration occurs before the end of the meeting in which the action is taken. I do not plan to vote for any council candidate who does not tell me that he or she will seek to make this change. Jimmie Covington

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by jcov40 on 08/22/2019 at 11:39 AM

Re: “Council Race Switcheroo; Tax Rate Questioned

Not that the rate will change, but I think the penalty is that the county's lawyers will tell them that the tax rate will remain under a legal cloud unless the commissioners approve the ordinance in another vote. The Chancery Court ruling that upheld then commissioner Vasco Smith's lawsuit against setting the tax rate before July 1 was in 1981. It is surprising that after the commission's approving the tax rate on third reading in July for 38 years, no one with the county raised his or her hand this time and said hey, wait a minute, there might be a problem here. Five of the current commissioners won re-election last year and are in their fifth year in office. They dealt with giving final approval to the tax rate ordinance in July in each of the past four years.

Posted by jcov40 on 07/04/2019 at 10:59 AM

Re: “County Commission Continues Budget Battle

Was the commission's vote on June 24 to adopt the tax rate a valid vote? This is what I have posted on facebook:

Did the Shelby County Commission act contrary to state law when it approved this year's county property tax rate on third and final reading on Monday, June 24? For 30 years or so, the commission has been setting the tax rate after July 1 of each year. One year, when the late Vasco Smith was serving on the commission, commissioners set the rate before July 1. Smith, who objected to the move, filed a lawsuit in which he charged that state law prevented the county from setting the rate before July 1. Smith won the lawsuit. Every year since then, the county has been holding third reading on the rate after July 1. Last year, the rate was set on July 9. There have been no news stories since then about any court ruling or other action that would allow final action on the rate to be taken before July 1. With a new county mayor, new county attorney and eight new commissioners in office this year, did a mistake occur? Here is what state law says:

67-5-510. Establishment of county tax rate.

It is the duty of the county legislative bodies, on the first Monday in July, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to fix the tax rates on all properties within their respective jurisdictions for all county purposes, except that in any county having a population in excess of seven hundred thousand (700,000), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, establishing tax due dates other than the first Monday in October each year, in accordance with 67-1-701(a), shall have the authority to fix tax rates for all county purposes at dates prior to the first Monday in July.

The due date for collecting taxes in Shelby County has not been changed from the first Monday in October.-jcov40

Posted by jcov40 on 07/02/2019 at 3:51 PM

Re: “Harris’ Shelby County Budget Likely to be Impacted by Vouchers

Wish someone would cite me wording in the county charter, state law, a court ruling or even a legal opinion that the county mayor has any authority to make any recommendation on school funding or the schools' budget. The county charter seems to make it clear that the county mayor has no role in schools or school funding. A C Wharton was the first county mayor to make a recommendation on school funding and the budget. Mark Luttrell continued the practice. In fact, Luttrell last year recommended that the property tax rate for schools be cut five cents. The County Commission approved the recommendation. The action has left schools with a shortfall in county funding according to details in the overall budget proposal Lee Harris has presented. Basically, the county charter and the preceding Shelby County Government Restructure Act., which created the county mayor's position, say that the act and the charter do not apply to schools and school funding. The county school board and district remain under the Tennessee Private Acts of 1923, which in addition to the state's general law stipulate how school funding is to be handled. No legal opinion was ever issued under Wharton and Luttrell stating that the mayor had any authority to move into school funding but they did it any way because they and some of the commissioners in office at the time wanted to seize more control over schools. Reporters from the major news media never understood what was happening. I plan to write more about this in detail in a posting i will make elsewhere.-Jimmie Covington

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by jcov40 on 05/02/2019 at 2:26 PM

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