Selma Mayor, City Council battle over contract payments
Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2022
The Selma City Council and Selma Mayor James Perkins are battling over which side has the power to approve and pay vendors.
Perkins held a press conference Monday at the Council Chambers to share his viewpoint of a disagreement between him and the city council over contracts with Marqueis Neely of NPG LLC, videographer David Blackmon, Edmundite Missions, and Snow’s Cleaning Service, all who say the City of Selma owes them for services rendered the City.
According to Perkins, the law gives the mayor the power to enter in contracts, and said it is the mayor’s responsibility to make sure terms of any contract are met before vendors get paid. Blackmon hasn’t been paid since November. Neely’s last check came in May.
“If we release this agreement and if something is wrong with the transaction, I am responsible, my neck is on the line,” Perkins said.
Perkins said he told the city council he’d “release the checks the next day” if the majority of the council signed affidavits accepting responsibility for any problems that may arise from paying the vendors.
“The council did not agree to sign it, they backed away,” Perkins said.
Selma City Councilman Clay Carmichael said he disagrees with the way Perkins handled the press conference.
“It’s one thing to disagree, but to point fingers at council people in a press conference is not the way I want my Selma to be reflected to the world,” Carmichael said.
The contract concerns Perkins had with NPG LLC and the city council include: city council dictated the terms of the contract with City Attorney Major Madison, $60,000 annual salary, $30,000 for six months was more than SPD officers, contract wasn’t shared with public, Mayor, or any administrative staff member, council never voted to override Mayor’s veto. Perkins also said Neely did not give a thorough report on what services he rendered in exchange for being paid.
“He refused to meet with the Mayor and City Attorney,” Perkins said. “The contractor is only accountable to the city council and that violates state law.”
Neely, a former Selma Police Department officer, reacted to Perkins statement, hoping the issue can be revolved.
“While I can appreciate the many duties and responsibilities of Mayor Perkins and his office, I can only hope the dispute of held payments from NPG LLC, a consulting company, can be resolved without a catastrophic conclusion,” Neely said.
Neely went on to say “In a recent press conference held by Mayor Perkins, there were many contracts discussed and I couldn’t help but interpret what sounds like an individual “counting the pockets” of entrepreneurs. I have not been an employee of the City of Selma for some years, but my untainted character, service to the community, and visibility speaks volumes many mouths could never reach.”
Perkins said he cut off payment to Blackmon because Blackmon violated the terms of his contract with the city, using the video he recorded for the city to make “political statements.”
Perkins claims Blackmon also intimidated City Hall staff when attempting to collect payment. City officials filed several criminal charges against Blackmon, one of which was dismissed. Blackmon continues to record city proceedings as a private citizen and posts them on social media.
Blackmon called Perkins’ statements against him “a whole set of lies.”
“The lies include: contractor used and released content (video) without authorization. My videos are live-streamed to social media sites as stated in my contract and without any commentary,” Blackmon said.
Perkins stated that the false arrest warrant signed by the security guard for obstructing government operations was somehow connected to my check. This warrant was signed in November by the magistrate, who after reading the affidavit of the guard, wrongly decided that exercising two constitutionally protected activities was probable cause for the warrant. It wasn’t. You cannot be forced to give up your 4th Amendment Rights to enter a public building and you can’t be required to give personal medical information to the city.’’
Perkins said the previous administration agreed to give Edmundite Missions half the city’s occupancy tax along with the YMCA, but the Edmundites were never paid. Perkins said the contract resolution by the city council was flawed in that it was backdated to before the current administration took office.
Edmunute Missions CEO and President Chad McEachern said they appreciate the city council’s support.
“We appreciate the support shown to us by the city through the city council’s vote and we look forward to a quick resolution which puts the agreed upon funds to work supporting the programs at the Dr. Michael and Catherine Bullock Community and Recreation Center, which are offered free of charge to our over 2,000 currently registered members and all citizens of Selma and surrounding communities,” McEachern said.
Perkins said that contracts for individual council members’ wards to LeMarkus Snow of Snow’s Cleaning Service might violate bid laws, calling it “council overreach.”
Snow said that Perkins used him as an example of contractors rather than praise his outstanding work in the Queen City over the last three years.
“Most time, the city council contracts me out for jobs in places that day to day operations don’t send public works or work orders are not being filled,” Snow said. “The need for Snow’s Cleaning Service exist in the City of Selma by using my company, they will get cleanliness, neat work at a discounted price.”
Earlier this summer, the city council agreed to send the contract disputes of Blackmon and Neely to attorney Bobby Segall for Attorney General Steve Marshall’s opinion. Perkins disagrees, saying the matter needs to be adjudicated.
“An Attorney General’s opinion is just an opinion,” Perkins said. “We need a judge to decide this. When a judge makes a decision, it is final.”
Carmichael said he doesn’t have a problem with the contract dispute ending up in the Supreme Court.
“I believe the council voted in the right direction when we chose to turn these issues over to Attorney Segall for a higher authority to make a decision for us,” Carmichael said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s the Supreme Court or the Attorney General. I will respect their interpretation.”
Perkins said that he doesn’t have a problem with contractors, it’s the Municipal Government.
“The contract process is broken, we have to fix it,” Perkins said. “I’ve tried to open up a line of communication. The council thinks what they’re doing is right. I think they’re wrong.”