Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: June 2024

Supporting first responders

Last year, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office partnered with county commissioners to reserve a portion of their budget for public safety initiatives in each district.

For District 3, this program covered the cost of emergency equipment needed in the event of severe weather episodes and resulting power outages, such as the storm that disrupted 120,000 MLGW customers one year ago.

The resolution I sponsored was approved back in October, but the equipment has just recently been delivered.

I’m thankful for everyone who came together to put this technology in place — Sheriff Bonner, the Board of Commissioners, Mayor Harris, Mayor Parsons, Chief Cox, Chief Gately, and the many members of their teams who made it happen. This will result in lives saved.

Public safety investments

I mentioned in the last issue how the county is investing in much-needed repairs and replacements of the jail facility at 201 Poplar.

There are additional infrastructure needs at the juvenile courthouse and the juvenile detention center, along with urgent capital improvement projects being addressed at Regional One trauma center and across our school districts.

These pressing infrastructure needs present a serious challenge for county leaders, and that will continue to be the case for many years to come.

Meanwhile, we still need to keep regular government functions moving. In recent months, I sat down with the Mayor’s Administration and the Sheriff’s Office to explore solutions for one particular problem in our justice system — the lack of safe, long-term parking for sequestered jurors.

This issue came up in speaking with the Jury Commission administrator and hearing from citizens who had been called for jury duty, only to be faced with safety issues and car break-ins, added to the cost of parking and the limited spaces available nearby.

Thankfully, the Board of Commissioners recently approved funding so that sequestered jurors can safely leave their vehicles behind and concentrate on performing their public service.

We need to get our justice system moving faster. This is one step toward that goal.

Superintendent transition team

This month it was my privilege to join a distinguished group of 50 community leaders who make up the transition team for Dr. Marie Faegins, the new superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

Dr. Faegins has already brought new energy and ideas to the county school district, announcing plans to reduce the size and cost of the central office and to redeploy staff back into the schools and classrooms.

I was selected to serve with the business operations group, which is charged with studying the school facility plans and issues related to staffing, transportation, nutrition and other back-end processes.

I shared a live-tweet account of our first meeting on X, the social media platform.

Clerk ouster trial

Commissioner Mick Wright watches closely as Wanda Halbert and her team present during the May 15 Shelby County Board of Commissioners’ meeting. (Benjamin Naylor/The Daily Memphian)

This past month Coty Wamp, the District Attorney appointed to investigate Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert, submitted a petition for ouster in Shelby County Circuit Court. In response, Clerk Halbert’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss.

A status hearing in the case was held on Friday, May 31. Judge Felicia Corbin-Johnson denied Halbert’s motion to dismiss but granted an extended deadline of Wednesday, June 5 for Halbert to file an answer to the complaint. Trial was scheduled for Monday, August 26. Also, a hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, to determine if Halbert will be suspended from office while awaiting trial.

In related news:

  • Contrary to Halbert’s repeated claims that the clerk’s office never received a forensic audit, that in fact did happen. The forensic audit reached some of the same findings the comptroller’s office encountered again years later.
  • Clerk Halbert missed a deadline set by the County Commission to produce a corrective action plan responsive to the comptroller’s recommendations. At a rescheduled meeting, Clerk Halbert made a presentation but still did not deliver a plan.
  • At the same meeting, Halbert made a non-specific budget request and asked commissioners to renew a lease at one of her existing office locations, all of which she considers to be “illegal.” The previous lease had expired in 2022.

For obvious reasons, I am holding any further comment on these issues and declining interviews while this matter is before the court.

Upcoming meetings

June 1 — County Budget Town Hall, 11 a.m. @ Brooks Museum
June 3 — Commission meeting, 3 p.m.
June 12 — Standing Committee Meetings, 8:30 a.m.
June 17 — Commission meeting, 3 p.m.
July 3 — Standing Committee Meetings, 8:30 a.m.

Puppy adoption update

I previously shared that we adopted a puppy from Memphis Animal Services. It’s been a tumultuous month. At pick-up, Halo was visibly sick. The day after we brought her home, we discovered she was exposed to canine distemper virus (CDV) in an outbreak that temporarily closed the facility. Several vet visits later, it became clear Halo’s symptoms were kennel cough only and not anything more serious.

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