Accusations fly during City Council meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Selma Water Board was once again the hot topic of discussion Monday night at the Selma City Council meeting.

No sooner had the meeting begun than Councilman Glenn Sexton took to the podium and read a lengthy refutation of accusations made by local resident the Rev. Lee Goodwin at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

To Goodwin’s allegation that the board had hired a consultant for $18,000 a year and hid it from the public, Sexton presented a written record of the minutes where Jack Chandler had been hired.

To Goodwin’s claim that the board had raised its rates without notifying the public, Sexton produced copies of The Times-Journal in which legal notices listing the specific increases had been published as required by state law.

Goodwin had also complained that the board had given an employee a $10,000 raise during a time when it was supposedly &uot;short on cash.&uot; Sexton explained the raise by saying the board had merged two positions and given the employee the additional money to handle what had been two jobs.

He noted that the move actually saved the board money.

To Goodwin’s claim that the board had paid an individual $35,000 &uot;for no services rendered,&uot; Sexton noted that the payment was actually $32,000 and was in settlement of a threatened breach of contract claim to avoid the cost of litigation.

Sexton also called Goodwin’s allegation that the board is being investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for unfair treatment of some employees &uot;a politically charged spin on the real facts.&uot;

To Goodwin’s claim that the board let a no-bid contract for $250,000 to paint a water tower that could have been painted for less than $100,000, Sexton said, &uot;I do not know where Reverend Goodwin came up with the $100,000 figure, but it is also completely false and baseless.&uot;

He said the board complied with all Alabama Competitive Bid Laws for projects exceeding $50,000, adding, &uot;That means the board could not just hire someone off the street with a paintbrush.&uot;

He noted that the job required special precautions due to the presence of lead paint and that the board accepted the low bid of $238,570.

Sexton then abruptly changed the subject to discuss monetary payments that he claimed Mayor James Perkins Jr. had received for speaking engagements handled through a business his wife owns. He passed out a copy of a state ethics commission advisory opinion dated March 2001, which concludes that neither Perkins nor his wife’s business may be compensated for any speaking engagements the mayor participates in.

After waiting for Sexton to finish, an obviously angry Perkins stepped deliberately to the microphone. &uot;You’re lucky I’m a gentleman and a Christian,&uot; he said, fixing Sexton with an unblinking glare.

Perkins said the advisory opinion is one he personally requested to clarify how any compensation he receives from such speaking engagements should be handled. He said any such money he receives is donated to education institutions throughout the state.

The mayor dismissed the allegation as a thinly disguised attempt to distract the council from allegations of misconduct concerning

Water Board members.

Earlier this month the ethics commission referred the names of three of those members &045; Sexton, chairman William &uot;Billy&uot; Hicks and secretary-treasurer Marvin Melton &045; to the attorney general for investigation of possible criminal misconduct concerning the salaries paid to members of that board.

In other matters the council:

The next council meeting will be Monday, Nov. 25, at 5 p.m.