Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: May 2024

Signs and seasons

Just a quick programming note: I’ve fallen behind with the newsletter, which typically hits inboxes around the first of the month. But with so much happening, I don’t want to skip an issue. Hopefully, you’ll hear from me again next week.

It seems so long ago now, but it was only April 8 when we enjoyed the solar eclipse. Alison and I rented a cabin in Arkansas so we could fully experience the “path of totality.” It was worth the drive. It won’t happen again in the U.S. until 2044.

Call for resignation

Last month, another MPD officer was killed in the line of duty. A shoot-out with police on April 12 resulted in the death of Officer Joseph McKinney. This was a tragic and unnecessary loss of life. While it was my honor to attend his service and pay my respects, I’ll say it again: no more funerals.

One of the teens involved in the shooting had just been released on recognizance weeks earlier. Alarmingly, General Sessions Judge Bill Anderson told media the suspect’s release was “appropriate.” That comment was the last straw.

I had previously made reference to some judges that needed to “exit stage left.” At a speaking engagement in Whitehaven on April 25, I made explicit my call for his resignation.

In recent months, Judge Anderson has been reprimanded by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for saying he “detests” the bail bond system, comments he made in one of our meetings. And more recently, Anderson called it “disappointing” that the number of defendants released on recognizance isn’t increasing.

All of this comes from the judge who oversees the judicial commissioners who often make these bond decisions, as they did in this case. It’s time for Bill Anderson to go.

Shelby County jail

If you’ve heard about the state of our jail, you might be wondering what the county commission is doing about it. In brief:

1. In our most recent meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved a set of emergency repairs on the cell doors costing $345,632. The equipment at our jail is no longer in general use; repairs must be custom fabricated by special order.

2. In April we approved putting $18 million from the county’s final balance of federal dollars toward the construction of a mental health facility that will serve a segment of the jail population.

3. In the same meeting, we approved $250,000 from the same source to perform an updated master study of the jail that will guide the rebuild. The last study was completed in 2008 and found that, while there was still some useful life in the facility at that time, the county needed to start making plans. Hopefully this amount will be enough to complete the work, as the Sheriff’s office has anticipated needing up to $1.5 million for a study of this kind.

4. Commissioner Amber Mills has led a years-long effort with the Sheriff’s office to put before voters the question of funding a new jail. That initiative stalled out in a Tennessee House committee this year. The updated study may help move things forward in a future legislative session.

Corrective action plan

There have been major developments in the ouster investigation of Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert this month.

But last month, the County Commission set some of these things in motion by narrowly passing a resolution I sponsored calling for the Clerk to acknowledge the Comptroller’s recommendations and craft a corrective action plan in response.

The resolution narrowly passed with a bare majority vote of 7-1.

Upcoming meetings

May 29 — Standing committees, 8:30 a.m.
June 1 — County Budget Town Hall, 11 a.m. @ Brooks Museum
June 3 — Commission meeting, 3 p.m.

Shelter pet adoption

I’ve never heard of “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day” before, but this year we took advantage. Halo was brought to Memphis Animal Services with her mom and nine other siblings under fruit-themed aliases. On April 30, we signed the adoption papers. Until further notice, puppy updates will replace the book of the month feature.

Stay in touch

If you have a question or concern, email me at

You can speak with the Commission office by calling 901-222-1000.

I welcome your feedback on Facebook @CommissionerMickWright and X @mickwright.

Thanks for reading.

Mick Wright
Shelby County Commission – District 3