February 2, 2011


• The Norris Bill passes in committee
• Opponents of the bill are already developing strategies
• Memphis City Council could vote to accept charter surrender tomorrow

(MEMPHIS 2/02/2011) — The School Charter Showdown is turning into a race to the finish line. Republican State Senator Mark Norris presented a bill Wednesday during a committee meeting in Nashville. Supporters of the bill, say it would establish an orderly transition if Memphis voters approve the Charter Surrender Referendum on March 8, 2011.

The bill would establish a 21 member planning commission. Opponents say the way the commission would be assembled takes power away from Memphians. “We’ll be like puppets to the county,” says Democratic State Senator Beverly Marrero. “They’ll make every decision about what we do if we allow the bill to go forward the way the bill is structured.”

Marrero called Memphis City Council Chairman Myron Lowery soon after the Norris Bill passed in committee. “I personally would like to see you go ahead and surrender the charter,” she told Lowery. “I think it would be to our advantage.”

The Norris Bill is expected to pass Monday night. Lowery scheduled a meeting for the city council to reconvene Thursday afternoon. He hopes the council will accept the MCS Charter Surrender, effective immediately. “We have a right to determine our destiny,” Lowery said.

Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, who has been an outspoken critic of the Norris Bill, hopes the Memphis City Council will take Senator Marrero’s advice and accept the surrender of the charter. “It is my belief that they would win the race if that happens,” Mulroy says. “If they accept the surrender of the charter, then it’ll be too late for Nashville to change the rules after that,” he says.

But what about your right to vote? Council members have said all along it’s their intention to have voters decide whether or not they want the MCS charter surrendered. During discussion of the original resolution to accept the charter surrender, Councilman Shea Flinn made it clear if voters strike down the referendum, then the council would accept their wishes, and things would go back to the status quo.

Most people involved say the issue is likely to end up in court.


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