Walker contends meeting was improper, White Hall Council continues meeting to be sure proper steps followed
Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
In the absence of Town Clerk Shanavia Sellers and Mayor James Walker, the White Hall Town Council met in special session at the Jackson-Steele Community Center Tuesday night to tackle several issues. But Walker contends that the meeting was improper.
After determining that White Hall Town Hall was locked, as was the case with a recent work session when the council met at the White Hall Triple Spot, Council member Eli Seaborn posted a meeting location change to the Jackson-Steele Community Center on the Town Hall door Tuesday night.
Present for Tuesday night’s meeting were Council members Ruby Dee Rudolph, Joyce Barnfield, Ceodis Baker, Seaborn and a crowd of more than 20 concerned citizens.
Seaborn said of the council’s not having keys to Town Hall, “See, all of this has got to be worked out together because, I don’t know how y’all feel, but this is kind of embarrassing to me… that the people who are over the whole thing do not have keys to get in.”
Seaborn expressed appreciation for the use of the Jackson-Steele Community Center.
Sellers said, “The mayor did not call this meeting, and I was not directed by the mayor to post it, therefore, I did not post the announcement. Council Person Eli Seaborn posted it himself Dec. 28, 2015.” She said, “If I am not mistaken, from what I was told they did go through the mayor and asked for those meetings, but the mayor told then that he was going to be out of town and that they needed to be rescheduled for after the holidays.”
Both Baker and Seaborn disputed that.
Baker said Walker told them he would not be back for the work session, but said the mayor told them he would be back for the meeting.
“I don’t have any dispute with her (Sellers) at all,” Seaborn said of Sellers’ comments, “But I know that is not true.”
When contacted for comment after the mayor returned to town Wednesday, Walker said, “Well, number one, the meeting was not done properly. The procedures are that if any council member desires to have a meeting they should petition to the pro tem in writing and the pro tem should summon the meeting in writing, and I would deem if it’s necessary to have a meeting.”
Walker said prior to his leaving for the holidays, Seaborn told him the council would have a meeting. “And I explained to him that I was not going to agree with a meeting when I can’t be there because I had already set time that I was going to be out for the holidays…. And he told me he was going to go ahead with the meeting,” Walker said.
Why the lock out? “Because I didn’t sanction the meeting,” Walker said. He said that allowing the use of Town Hall “means that I okayed them to meet. I’m not okaying them to meet when I can’t be there.”
Walker also said Seaborn cannot call a meeting because he “has not taken the oath as pro tem yet. He can only take that oath at the next meeting. So, all of this is illegal stuff that he is trying to take away the powers of my position…”
When asked why the council and mayor could not work together. Walker said, “I was told that I was not running the town properly.” He said when he suggested that those who think that run for mayor, he was told “don’t worry because you are not going to get anything done.” He said everything he proposes is shot down. “And I refuse to just ball up and back up because somebody has an opinion that I’m not running the town like they think I should.”
While the council took actions Tuesday night regarding the town’s vacant council seat, the water board and personnel, the council voted to continue Tuesday’s meeting until another date to make sure all the proper steps regarding those actions are taken.
Seaborn said Tuesday night that the council would try to do things “the legal way.” He also said the council is “treading down some roads that we really shouldn’t have to do.”