The City of Memphis request to remove the statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest will be adjudicated by a simple majority of the Tennessee Historical Commission -- not a two-thirds majority as citizens may have understood from recent media reports.
And, despite a letter from the Tennessee Historical Commission executive staff to city officials stating they would not be taking up the city's request at its next meeting, the commission members may do so if they please.
|Will THC keep Memphis beneath the boot of the Rebel general?|
The commission meets in Athens on Friday, and the first item on the agenda includes public comments, and the second item is to consider the city's request of a waiver of the 2013 Tennessee Heritage Act, which pulled authority from cities and into the state's hands on removing or renaming military-related artifacts. The commission is expected to hear from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, #takemdown901 activist Tami Sawyer and citizens who may make comments. A provision of the Act allows for local jurisdictions to petition the commission for a waiver of its rules and permission to move or rename such artifacts.
Second item on the agenda is the commission's consideration of the city's request -- although commission chairman Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell recently wrote a letter to Memphis administration stating that Memphis' petition for a waiver of the rules would not be considered at the October session. The commission's next meeting won't be until February, 2018.
For clarification of those two pieces of conflicting information, we reached out to the Tennessee Historical Commission and to Memphis attorney McMullen.
"We filed a waiver before the 2016 act went into effect," said McMullen, "so according to the 2013 act, a simple majority of commission members is required, and any appeal is to be made through Chancery Court in Nashville. The 2016 act requires a super-majority, two-thirds, and any appeal goes through a jurisdiction where the statues are located."
That's what we understood -- but it's always safe to make sure we are not the misguided ones.
McIntyre's letter blunting the city's effort notwithstanding, it is up to the voting members of the commission itself -- 24 persons appointed by the governor plus five ex-officio members, including Gov. Bill Haslam -- to decide whether they will act on Memphis' petition.
In the THC's letter to Memphis, the commission said it intends to continue tinkering with its process and criteria for adjudicating such matters -- instead of voting on the city's request itself.
However, the THC (whose members and petitioners may need a little Tetrahydrocannabinol to get through this process; sorry, couldn't help that) has been dithering over this at least since April when they put out an itemized set of decision points, and continuing into their June meeting.
And, they're not done yet?
At this pace, no wonder Memphis City Council attorney Alan Wade said, "It is probably easier to have someone executed by lethal injection than to get a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission."
We have yet to hear back from the Tennessee Historical Commission office.
Heritage Protection Act and Tennessee Historical Commission
Meeting details and members
City of Memphis waiver request
Letter from THC to Memphis
From THC website:
From DailyKos, Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument Is about Domination, Not History