Selma Mayor reacts to appointing new fire chiefs

Published 6:54 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. reacted to the City Council’s recent appointments of an interim Selma Fire Chief and interim Assistant Fire Chief.

On Tuesday, Perkins released a statement of Coley Byrd as interim fire chief and retaining Walter Dailey as interim assistant fire chief. The council appointed Byrd and Dailey on May 28. Franklin Edwards was previously interim fire chief. Perkins said the city council may broken state rules.

“It has come to the attention of the Mayor that these appointments may be in violation of  State of Alabama Code Section 11-43-81, specifically pertaining to the powers of appointment and removal in the city,” Perkins wrote. 

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Perkins said state rules allow the mayor to make the top decisions.

“According to the State Code, he is designated as the chief executive officer of the city and has the general supervision and control of all other officers and affairs, with the power to appoint all officers not otherwise provided for by law,” Perkins stated.  “This state law has been affirmed by the Alabama  Supreme Court in Scott v. Coachman. He further retains the authority to remove any officer for good cause, except those elected by the people. “

Perkins continues to explain what the city council did in violating the rule.

“The recent appointments made by the City Council do not align with the outlined powers and responsibilities of the Mayor per Alabama State Code,” Perkins said. “Nothing in Alabama State statute nor  Selma Municipal Ordinance allows the City Council to make temporary or interim appointments either of an Interim Fire Chief or Interim Assistant Fire Chief so that means State of Alabama  Code Section 11-43-81 prevails. Further, the Code does not allow the appointment of the Assistant  Fire Chief by the City Council. He expresses his concern over this deviation from the established governance structure and emphasizes the importance of adhering to the legal framework in place.  This type of City Council overreach into executive functions is a major problem in Selma because  it clearly violates the legal principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances at any  level of government.”

Perkins said the city council should have given a reason why Franklin was removed. 

“By removing Interim Fire Chief Franklin Edwards without a stated cause or due process, or without any notice provided to his immediate supervisor, the Mayor, these actions are clear violations of Interim Chief Edwards’s rights as a city employee and a total breach of professional ethics/protocol between separate branches of government, that is, legislative and executive,” Perkins said. “Be further reminded what was done to Edwards is something the City of Selma was sued about and found liable of committing in recent times. Further, the City Council has eliminated any possibility where Edwards, a 23-year veteran within the Fire Department, could resume his previous position within the Fire Department as Assistant Fire Chief. Due to the Council’s actions,  Edwards is currently an employee without a position.”

Perkins said he was surprised of the city council’s decision.

“Mayor Perkins wants citizens to know that he had no knowledge of what the City Council was planning to do,” Perkins said. “A Special Call meeting was set only to hold an Executive Session. Even prior to  that meeting, Mayor Perkins had his executive assistant call City Council President Billy Young  to find out the subject of this Executive Session. Council President Young informed her to let the  Mayor know that he would not share the purpose of the meeting because another councilperson made the request. It was later discovered that two Fire Department employees were asked to  appear at the Special Called/Executive Session Meeting apparently to make allegations of a disparaging nature against Edwards. After the Executive Session, no action was taken at the  meeting.”

Perkins said neither Byrd nor Dailey knew of the city council’s decision.

“Interim Fire Chief Richard Byrd was at the May 28th Council meeting in full formal uniform dress with his family. Also, the audience included individuals that clearly suggested certain people knew in advance what was about to take place,” Perkins said. “The administration had been intentionally kept in the dark. When Mayor Perkins was informed of this fact, he called Interim Assistant Fire Chief  Walter Dailey to inquire what he knew about what was about to take place in the City Council meeting. Dailey stated he knew nothing about it, but he was headed to the meeting because if  Chief Edwards was about to be attacked, he would be by his side. During that meeting, four City  Council members acknowledged that they were blindsided by the five members of the City  Council’s plan to remove Edwards and appoint Byrd as Chief. This seems to be a violation of the  Open Meetings Act and potentially several ethics violations. Mayor Perkins stated it is imperative that the proper procedures and protocols are respected to maintain the integrity of the city’s administration and in this case, this was not done. “