Argument cuts work session short

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, October 23, 2008

What was supposed to have been the last work session of the current Selma City Council turned into a brouhaha that cut short the meeting.

Outgoing Councilman Johnnie Leashore of Ward 6 lit into Council President George Evans just minutes before Evans gaveled adjournment Thursday night after about 45 minutes.

Jimmy Nunn, the city attorney, didn’t have the opportunity to present his portion of the agenda.

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“What happened?” Nunn asked after leaving council chambers briefly and returning to find council members rising from their seats and leaving. “I had some things to present.”

The meeting seemed contentious from the beginning as Leashore talked about appointing someone to the Selma Water and Sewer Board to fill the post left by Aubrey Vick’s death.

The meeting deteriorated from then and wound up with Leashore accusing Evans of allowing Ward 1 Councilman Cecil Williamson to “run the city.”

Leashore accused Evans of not allowing the council to vote to appoint someone to the Water Board during the council’s last meeting. Two weeks ago, the council voted 4-3 to delete the item because Williamson had to be in court and wanted to participate in debate on the issue.

At the council’s last meeting, Leashore, who is a member of the Water Board, objected. He picked up that objection Thursday night.

Council rules say a council member who places an item on the agenda may take off that item, or the item may come off with a majority vote of the council when it ratifies the agenda.

Evans told Leashore: “An agenda item can be deleted by a vote of the council. That’s the only way it can come off. Not when you grandstand, when you want people to think it’s illegal or wrong. That’s our rules, Mr. Leashore. When you and others get on the radio and lie and mislead people that somebody is doing something illegal, that is our rule, man. We made that rule.”

Leashore responded by telling Evans he should have “taken the gavel and said, ‘Mr. Councilman Williamson, we have a quorum here, the business of the people is going to continue. It’s not my fault that you’ve got to be in court. Go and do the judicial duties you’ve got to do, but the business of the people’s gonna ensue.’ That’s the only thing I was doing and making a point, Mr. President. Don’t let the business of the people stop because certain members of the council are not here.”

Leashore has asked for items to come off the agenda that others placed on there, Evans said. “I’m going to find where you have done that,” the council president said.

Several council members began trying to talk over one another, and Evans ended the council meeting.