MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Clerk’s Office is closed this week after Clerk Wanda Halbert said all locations would close so they could catch up on a backlog of services. But according to the Tennessee State Comptroller, Halbert isn’t even in the country while the ‘catching up’ is happening.
The Comptroller’s Office said Monday afternoon that it confirmed Halbert is currently out the country in Jamaica.
The clerk’s office is set to be closed to the public Aug. 22 through Aug. 26, then again Sept. 19 through 23, 2022.
When announcing the closure, Halbert said the offices needed to catch up on “critically outstanding services.” She said customers would still be able to use online or mail renewal services. Also as part of the closure, she announced an updated process for auto dealers, saying, “There will be NO wait-on transactions at the dealer offices. This will allow every employee (all hands on deck) to focus on the cleanup. This way the office will not get backed up as it is today.”
In a statement sent to ABC24, the Comptroller Jason Mumpower said, “The clerk’s trip shows a lack of leadership and concern for her staff who are left to address the backlog without her presence in the office. It also shows a lack of respect for the citizens of Shelby County who are forgoing many of the clerk’s services this week in hopes that she is addressing her office’s deficiencies during the closure.
The clerk’s decision to travel to Jamaica this week shows that her apologies were meaningless. Her decision to take a trip damages her credibility and shows a complete lack of awareness. The clerk is AWOL while her staff is left behind trying to clean up the mess.”
When the closures were first announced, those with the Tennessee Comptroller's Office described Halbert's actions as 'unusual', especially in the state's most populated county, and worried it would create new headaches.
We have reached out to Halbert and are awaiting a response.