After initial confusion, League confirms vote passed

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Following Tuesday’s meeting of the Selma City Council, it was stated that the vote of “no confidence” taken against Selma Mayor Darrio Melton – in which four council members voted in favor of the resolution and four others either “passed” or abstained – did not collect enough votes to be approved.

However, according to Alabama League of Municipalities General Counsel Lori Lein, the four affirmative votes taken together with the abstentions means that the council did in fact approve the vote of “no confidence” during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to Lein, an abstention does not constitute a vote, therefore only six council members actually cast a vote – for her part, Lein stated that she had never heard of passing on a vote, noting that in her opinion it constitutes an abstention – and the four votes in support of the resolution represents a simple majority of those who voted and enough for the vote to be approved.

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It is unclear if the vote represents anything more than an attempt by the council to lodge its disdain for Melton’s actions, represented by Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph, who pushed for a vote on the issue and took the mayor to task over what he considered a failure to do the work of Selma residents.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Harrison provided council members with a letter from Melton’s office stating that he had vetoed a vote taken by the council previously to allow council members to access the keys to public buildings.

Due to the lack of manpower in city departments, people looking to enter the building often find that no one is available to unlock them – the council took the vote to ensure that someone could access the keys and unlock public buildings for those wishing to use them.

In his veto letter, Melton asserted that it is his responsibility to oversee the day-to-day duties of running the city and that the measure approved by the council was “improper” and “violates legislative authority.”

Selma City Councilman Carl Bowline asserted that overriding the veto was unnecessary since the council had earlier vote to bring back the 68 city workers laid-off last year, though he noted that he had little confidence that Melton would actually call the workers back.

Selma City Councilman John Leashore agreed that the override was unnecessary in light of the earlier vote, but others were not so confident.

“That sounds good in theory,” said Selma City Councilwoman Miah Jackson. “But it’s going to be on the mayor to bring them back.”

The council voted unanimously to override the mayor’s veto.

During her financial report, Selma City Treasurer Ronita Wade provided numbers from June, which indicate that the city has seen at least a modest increase in tax revenues over the past month.

According to Wade, the city received more than $181,000 in sales tax revenue, over $30,000 in lodging tax revenue and more than $18,000 in tobacco tax revenue, all of which indicate an increase over previous numbers.

Wade also briefly discussed her attempts to execute the budget by halting payment to two defunded positions previously held by Saprina Simmons and Sean VanDiver and demoting Natasha Fowlkes from a Selma Police Department (SPD) captain to lieutenant and altering her pay schedule accordingly.

According to Wade, her actions were overridden by Melton, who ensured that the three continued to receive their salaries, and she called on the council to take up the issue and make a decision on how she should proceed.

“This has escalated into more than I anticipated,” Wade said. “When I’m on my job, I don’t expect to be harassed.”

In its consent agenda, the council approved the appropriation of $200,000 from the unappropriated budget line for the SPD to use to cover needs assessed by the Interim Chief of Police, Robert Green, up to the beginning of Fiscal Year 2020.