Water board woes continue

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bt Tammy Leytham

The Selma Times-Journal

A special-called meeting of the Selma Water & Sewer Board ended early Friday following a debate over which council member should fill a slot on the board.

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Dr. Geraldine Allen attended the meeting, but Chairman Johnnie Leashore asked police to escort her out after she refused to leave an executive session.

“I really want to be allowed to be on the board because of the fact that the council appointed me,” Allen said. “I have been willing to work with this board all along.”

During a Selma City Council meeting held Jan. 22, Allen was appointed to the water board by a 5-3 vote over Samuel Randolph, who had served on the board since 2000.

The vote sparked a controversy over whether the appointment was legitimate, since Allen voted for herself.

Randolph did not cast a vote for himself.

An injunction was filed in Dallas County Circuit Court on behalf of the Selma Water & Sewer Board in February seeking to keep both councilmembers from attending water board meetings until the issue was resolved.

On June 27, 2007, Circuit Judge Tommy Jones ruled that the water board “lacks standing because it has failed to show the existence of a justiciable controversy.”

The judge dismissed the complaint of the water board, an action that allowed Allen to fill the vacant seat.

“If this board has integrity, they will respect the decision given down by Judge Jones,” Allen said.

Allen said she met with water board members Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and Aubrey Vick, at their request, Thursday morning to discuss the fact that she has stated she will not receive any compensation for serving on the water board.

She sent a letter to the board members that reiterated that position.

Based on that meeting, and on the recommendation of her attorney, Allen said she believed she would now be a part of the water board.

“I assumed after we met that everybody was in agreement that for the next meeting occurring, there would be no problem with me attending,” she said.

The board called a special meeting for 5 p.m. on Friday to discuss the “declaratory judgment action” and to possibly go into executive session, according to the meeting agenda.

However, Allen said she received no correspondence indicating the meeting was taking place.

“I heard about it on the radio,” she said. “I did take my seat on the board and waited for the meeting to start.”

When the meeting did start, she was not acknowledged as being a part of the board, she said. However, when a vote was taken to go into executive session, her name was on the roll call, and she voted, “yes.”

At that point, she said, Leashore asked why Allen’s name was called for a vote, saying she was not a board member.

Randolph had also arrived for the meeting by this time and also stayed for the executive session. Allen said both she and Randolph left the meeting at Leashore’s request at one point, and she called her attorney.

Allen was told “that because I was legally the person on the board, I could go back to the executive session.”

When she returned, she was again asked to leave. Randolph did leave, she said, but she stayed.

Leashore then asked an officer to escort Allen from the meeting, but the officer “allowed me to stay,” Allen said.

The council then absolved the executive session, and voted to send the issue back to the council to address who should be on the board.

“I told them that had been decided,” Allen said.

She was not allowed to vote on that measure, she said.

Attempts to reach Leashore were unsuccessful as of press time.