Major Power Struggle In Shelby Commission

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(Memphis)  There’s a huge power struggle right now between new chairman James Harvey and several commissioners.

Some are calling it a Coup d’état in the County commission.

Longstanding members Walter Bailey and Sidney Chism are challenging Harvey by introducing a resolution to strip his appointment to the very important budget committee chair.

It’s totally up to the county commission chairman to appoint whomever he wants to chair the 14 committees.

So he’s doing just that by removing Budget Chairman Melvin Burgess to appoint Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

“We really need to do things differently than we’ve done in the past, but hopefully not different in a divisive way,” said Shafer.

Commissioners Walter Bailey and Sidney Chism are introducing a resolution to stop Shafer from becoming the chair and keep Burgess in the spot.

Commissioners say this is the first time in history members have ever challenged the chairman.

“The person they wanted as chairman wasn’t elected and so they’re challenging the chairman’s authority,” said Shafer.

Shafer going head to head against the two saying it’s pure politics and Chism and Bailey are afraid of how strict she will be as chairman, especially after a very tight budget year where property taxes were raised 36 cents.

“In these times we owe it to the tax payers to be careful with every dollar we spend. We need to make things efficient so we have money for the things we have to spend on,” said Shafer.

Commissioner Bailey says that’s part of it.

“We need people who are not there with an axe to grind or a bone to pick and are not trying to revolutionize the fiscal approach of county government,” said Bailey of Shafer.

Commissioners will vote on that resolution in two weeks and because of commission rules it would still be up to the chairman who he wants to put in the position.

News Channel 3 tried to reach Harvey for comment, but he did not respond.