Shelby Commission Plagued By Personal Conflicts

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(Memphis) The purpose of the Shelby County Commission is to take up the people's business, but this board seems to be wasting their time with personal fights and personality conflicts.

On Monday, commissioners could barely vote on the current item because they were too busy calling each other racists and hypocrites.

New chairman James Harvey's hope of banishing name-calling and personal attacks from commissioners is clearly too much to ask.

“I would request you conduct behavior of orderliness,” said Harvey.

That started falling apart as Commissioner Terry Roland accused his colleague, Sidney Chism, of voting for his cousin to fill a school board seat.

“His family has sold paraphernalia that deals with klans most of their life, so I got a reason to think he's a racist,” said Chism.

“Call me a racist? Hey I ain't crooked OK! I am not crooked,” Roland replied.

This is an on-going theme, and personal attacks take time away from meaningful debate about the commission’s professional work.

“I have experienced racism,” claimed Commissioner Henri Brooks.

“We may have reached a new low for this body and that's saying a lot,” said Commissioner Steve Mulroy.

Mulroy says physical threats are being made privately.

“People who disagree with the speakers positions have been called goons, cowardly, crooked, fascist, sexist, and the phrase 'lynched' was used,” said Mulroy.

WREG’s political commentator Otis Sanford said he believes this board argues more than any of their predecessor, and it only hurts you.

“They really can’t seem to get anything done because of all the infighting. All of issues with the schools, they were arguing and infighting over that,” said Sanford.

Under commission rules, commissioners are not allowed to address each other in their comments, and it's up to Chairman Harvey to call them to order.