It Takes Two To Do The Shelby County Opioid Task Force Tango

Local News

The head of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department says it’s a crisis. Opioid use, and overdoses and deaths, have reached crisis proportions in Shelby County.

It angers Shelby County Commission Chairman Heidi Shafer in many ways, including thinking about all that money spent on Narcan, and law enforcement, and ambulance rides, and things like that.

“I don’t want to have a tax increase,” she says, “… because of all the costs that are being moved down to us.”

The costs are considerable. It’s one reason why the county filed a lawsuit against the big pharmaceutical companies, to get money back.

A total of 8 commissioners want that lawsuit, but Mayor Mark Luttrell took them to court, and got a ruling saying he was right and they were wrong. Luttrell then vetoed some of the commissions actions to revive their rolls in the lawsuit. Commissioners voted to override it: 8 in favor of the override, 5 against.

Some of those 8 aren’t happy at all with Luttrell. “I often request information and documents,” complained Commissioner Eddie Jones. “I never get it.”

Some aren’t happy with all of this opioid crisis and task force talk, with absolutely nothing getting done. And nothing has been done, with the exception of filing a lawsuit that a judge says they didn’t have the right to file.

“All I’ve heard is a bunch of frikkin’ rhetoric,” Commissioner David Reaves said, “… but I’ve not heard anything about how we define success and what it means.”

Watching all of this was Mayor Luttrell’s second-in-command. He is retired U.S. Navy Captain Harvey Kennedy, who is the county’s chief administrative officer. 

All the bashing of his boss got to him.”This doesn’t feel like a discussion,” Kennedy told commissioners, “… it feels like an attack.”

It was decided, commissioners will form a task force, and maybe they’ll merge with the Mayor’s task force. A compromise of sorts, something as rare as a $2 bill these days.
 

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