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Strickland wants Memphis, Shelby Co. joint meetings

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Tim Andrassy / FOX13 News Tim Andrassy / FOX13 News
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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Just when you thought the local politicians couldn't possibly stir up more drama, Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission are considering meeting jointly in the new year.

The 13 personalities on the council and the 13 personalities on the commission may soon be colliding, in the name of doing the public's business.

Council Chairman Jim Strickland has contacted the chairman of the county commission about bringing the two bodies together regularly for joint meetings. He wants to tackle issues like blight and zoning and says he hopes working together could help prevent them from suing each other.

Both bodies are litigating a suit involving payments related to Memphis Light, Gas & Water.

Strickland is also considering involving the county school board, state legislators, and suburban boards but admits the meeting will already be very large with the 26 members of the council and commission, all with very strong personalities.

"I'm hoping the diverse personalities will actually help and engage and we'll have lively conversations," Councilman Strickland said. "But we'll see how all that works out."

"Jim is my friend but I would call him and tell him there is no way," Commissioner Chris Thomas said. "I don't think there is any way to get anything accomplished. The school board was a disaster."

The 23-member school board that had been meeting since 2011 got so little accomplished U.S. District Court Jude Samuel "Hardy" Mays, Jr., overseeing the merger had to appoint Rick Masson as a special master to step in and get the members to work.

No meeting date has been set yet, and how frequently the joint boards will meet still has to be decided. There will be no vote-taking during these meetings, so in that sense there will be no real power. The idea is more to work together on issues that would need separate votes by both bodies so things can move along more quickly.

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