Mayor responds to questions about cell tower issue
Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006
Because the tower issue is a legal matter, I have remained publicly silent. However, Daryl Thomas makes clear that the public really does not understand this issue.
It is a natural tendency to believe some of what you hear and if the public only hear one side of the issue then that is what the public is inclined to believe.
I also recognize that, in Alabama, judges are elected.
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Even though judges are expected to make decisions based on law, and in most instances they do, elected officials can be influenced by public opinion.
Judges are human too.
The county officials and some of their team of lawyers are spinning the tower message with the following misinformation:
1) The city sued the county first.
This is not true.
The truth is the county sued the city first in federal court and the federal court threw their case out.
The city’s tower lawsuit against the county is a position against public safety.
This is not true.
The truth is the tower lawsuit is about a much deeper public safety issue.
It is about the county granting itself a sort of “foreign embassy status” within the city limits of Selma and from the city’s point of view the county’s arrogance in this matter cannot stand.
3) The city planned to arrest county commissioners.
This is not true. The truth is the city issued county commissioners subpoenas to appear in court and not warrants for their arrest.
4) The city picked this fight.
This is not true.
The truth is, county officials picked the time and place to wage this battle against the city.
The city had no knowledge until the county fired the first shot.
This is just Mayor Perkins being unreasonable.
This simply is not true.
Before I, as mayor, could proceed with a lawsuit against the county, the city council had to vote on and approve the same.
The city council and I agree.
The city council voted “Yes” and because we agree, as mayor, I have moved forward with the legal challenge.
The remainder of my statement details each previously mentioned point.
It is a fact that the county sued the city first and did not win. When the county sued the city in federal court and the case was thrown out, they had the right at that time to change the legal venue from federal court to state court and then legally appeal their case up to the state supreme court.
The county officials and their team of lawyers obviously felt they could not win their case legally and proceeded to put the tower up without legally resolving the tower location issue with the city.
It is a fact that the city’s lawsuit against the county is not an anti-public safety position.
Be reminded that the city and county already share a tower.
The existing tower is being used by E-911, county, and city right now.
The existing tower is atop the city police building and has been in the same place every since we have had an E-911 service.
I, nor the city council, would put the citizens of Selma and Dallas County at risk by denying something needed to ensure our safety.
The city sued the county because when the county officials realized that their chances to win this case was/is slim to none, they arrogantly decided to, in effect, declare to themselves, a sort of “foreign embassy status” within the border of the city of Selma.
The county’s spin is that they do not have to comply with city, state, and federal laws within the city limits of Selma as long as they are on county property.
Their actions declare that while they are on county property they are above the local law.
If the city of Selma allows county officials to have their way, then county officials could purchase a vacant lot next to your home and build a county jail in the name of public safety.
The city must be able to decide what construction takes place within its city limits and everyone must be expected and required to comply with the laws of the city.
The city never threatened to arrest county commissioners.
After discussion, the city decided to subpoena county officials to appear in municipal court. This point brings forward the fact that there are presently two separate tower cases ongoing.
One case is the criminal case that is playing out in municipal court where Judge Christmas Green is the presiding judge.
The second case is the civil case that Judge Jack Meigs is hearing at the county courthouse.
The fact is the county officials do not want the criminal case to go to trial.
In my opinion, they know they violated city laws and as a result do not want the guilty verdict. That is understandable. Therefore, initially some hid and others refused service of subpoenas.
Afterwards the spin has been the city just wants to arrest county commissioners and their contractors.
In my opinion, even though they broke the law and deserve punishment, the city council, nor I, have ever pressed to have anyone arrested.
Another interesting point, it is my opinion that county officials believe that by having both cases heard at the courthouse, they will receive favor in the court.
They seem to believe that the judge will not rule against them regardless of law.
Once again, I do not agree with their logic.
I have had dealing with Judge Meigs before and at that time, he judged fairly.
I believe he will do the same in this case.
I also believe that this case is critical to every city in the state and regardless who wins the case in the county courthouse, this case will be appealed up to the state supreme court for a final decision.
Cities cannot give up the right to decide what is built and where it is built within our borders.
County officials picked the time and place to wage this battle against the city.
In my opinion, the issue and timing were politically motivated to create a political wedge issue during the election.
After reflecting back on the events leading up to the 6 a.m. Saturday morning tower construction, this whole matter seems planned and staged.
The city council voted to take legal action against the county.
By law, the mayor does not have the authority to decide to sue on behalf of the city.
That authority rightfully belongs to the city council.
After the city council found out what the county did and how they went about it, the city council voted to sue the county.
The vote was not along racial lines.
The vote was not a “Crenshaw Block.”
Only Councilman Cain voted against taking action against the county.
Councilpersons Venter and Leashore refused to vote on the motion stating their reason being the motion was not strong enough.
They wanted the motion to include immediately removing the tower.
At the time of the vote, I agreed with them, but realized that the majority of council members would not agree with the city physically removing the tower without going through the court.
At the time, the full sting of the county’s insult was fresh.
My sole issue is that as I understand and believe it to be so, the county government assisted a contractor they hired to break city law and possibly federal law.
If the city did nothing, the city would loose the ability to protect city citizens from county government abuses of law within our city.
Considering recent historical facts, we cannot take that risk.
Finally, if the county is willing to admit that their actions were wrong and apologize to the city for their actions, then I will go to the city council and ask that we try, once again, to negotiate a resolution to this matter considering both the present tower location and the courthouse.
Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr.