Mayor, Council clash over surveillance cameras

Published 5:26 am Friday, November 17, 2023

At the Selma City Council’s Tuesday meeting, Mayor James Perkins Jr. expressed grave concerns over the Council’s handling of the citywide surveillance cameras contract award.

The suggestion for awarding the contract to SELCOM came from Councilwoman Lesia James, who said, “I’m sick and tired of fighting over the cameras for two years. We’re playing ball with the cameras, but no one’s batting right now.”

Just as the council approved placing the contract award on the consent agenda, Perkins burst into the Council Chambers and yelled, “You can not do that, this is not right. You’re out of order. It’s a sign of disrespect.”

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The entire city council was present at the meeting and seemed surprised at Perkins’ outburst. Members present were city council President Billy Young along with council members Michael Johnson, Sam Randolph, Christie Thomas, Troy Harvill, Atkin Jemison, Clay Carmichael, Lesia James, and Jannie Thomas.

After further discussion, the council eventually selected SELCOM because the company was the lowest bidder.  Alabama Power was also under consideration. 

Perkins brought up the cameras again in his mayor’s report, reacting to the council’s vote. His voice was full of anger as he pointed out what he perceived as a conflict of interests and explained that Alabama Power was the only company that did not require the city to spend over $400,000 upfront, then made an accusation to the council.

“I don’t know if its’ true or not, but there’s a rumor going around that a member of the council is working for [SELCOM],” Perkins said. “It seems to me this is always going on with this governing body.”

“You violated the law and what you’re doing is wrong. What upset me was the city council violated its own rules. The city council should be concerned with their decision.”

Young replied and said the council did not violate any laws. Several council members, including Christie Thomas and Clay Carmichael, said the decision to choose SELCOM was based on the low amount. 

Perkins also noted that he felt the citizens of Selma should be upset about the camera contract award and explained his angry approach at the meeting.

“I want the public to understand what you’re (council members) doing,” Perkins said.  

Young disagreed with Perkins’ approach, saying the mayor disrespected the council.

“Venting at someone and making accusations at someone is a sign of disrespect,” Young said. “Not only did you disrespect me, you disrespected the City of Selma. I’m not going to yell like you.”

Perkins replied, “It seems the only way I can get the council’s attention is by yelling at you.”