Policy roundup: Wharton's budget, Beale settlement, school funding, federal jobs help

While not an avalanche of policy news, Monday saw progress on some vital issues for the city and county, and we expect to see more today when the City Council votes this afternoon on the budget.

In reaching a settlement over control of Beale Street, Mayor Wharton brought his legal experience to bear, saying that "A good settlement beats out a bad lawsuit any day." Essentially, Performa Entertainment Real Estate, John Elkington's company which has filed for bankruptcy, has agreed to give Memphis back control of the entertainment district, though some financial terms of the settlement are favorable to Performa. Under former mayor Willie Herenton, the city had spent millions in legal fees, including more than $2 million to Ricky Wilkins to pursue a case against Performa.

Education reporter Jane Roberts was at Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church last night, where local ministers called for the City Council to give Memphis City Schools the $57 million it cut in 2008, citing a desire to stop what many members believe is double taxation of Memphis taxpayers -- once in county taxes and once in city taxes (no other Shelby County municipalies contribute municipal taxpayer dollars to their schools). Interestingly, City Council member Harold Collins and school board president Martavius Jones were in agreement on one point -- they believe it's vital that the legal appeals process be exhausted so the city and the schools will have definitive guidance from the courts about what funds, if any, Memphis is obligated to contribute to MCS.

"We'd be pushing the can down the road," Jones said, responding to Rev. LaSimba Gray's demand that the city drop the appeals. "If we abandon this appeals process, we will be at the same junction in five, 10 or 15 years. The whole purpose of the appeals process is to get a final answer."

The County Commission took care of some business on Monday, with a local bottler getting highest priority status for some federally-backed job-creation bonds, Ann Pugh getting the nod for General Sessions Criminal Court judge and supporters of the local county agricultural extension service applauding the Commission's decision not to reduce its funding.

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

  • About memphisnewsblog.com

As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at www.MemphisNewsBlog.com, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at zmcmillin@commercialappeal.com or 529-2564.

  • Zack McMillin on Twitter