White Hall mayor and council agree to mediation
Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Following a hearing on a preliminary injunction sought by White Hall Mayor James Walker against the White Hall Town Council on Tuesday, the mayor and council agreed to seek mediation with the Alabama League of Municipalities, but also agreed to stipulations that included among them the employment of a temporary town clerk.
The hearing held in Lowndes County Circuit Court on Tuesday following a series of clashed between the mayor and council, including actions taken at a meeting held by the White Hall Town Council on Dec. 29, which Mayor Walker considered illegal, and actions taken at other regular council meetings after Walker dismissed those meetings by executive order.
After some two hours of negotiations, the hearing on Tuesday included testimony from Walker, Town Attorney Patrick Arrington and a water board auditor.
Attorney Arlene Richardson, who represents White Hall Mayor James Walker, said, however, that Circuit Court Terri Bozeman Lovell referred the case over to mediation with the Alabama League of Municipalities, which has personnel who specialize in these issues.
Richardson said the mayor and council agreed Tuesday, however to a temporary town a town clerk who can take water payments during the period the mayor and council are waiting for mediation.
And she said they agreed that the mayor can set up the water bank accounts the town’s bond issue requires.
Prince Chestnut, who represents the White Hall Town Council, said agreements also include the restoration of the town council’s salary.
He said, “I definitely can tell you that my clients will be listening and they will be all in with whatever because we want to be under the law.” He said, “That is what this has been always been about.”
Chestnut said a right restored to the council includes the review of books, minutes, bank statements and records of the town.
He said an issue that remains is contracts.
Chestnut said, “There is not just one person that makes the decision for the town. One person cannot unilaterally bind the town to contracts without the approval or ratification of the council in a meeting.”
Richardson and Prince said terminated employees is an issue to be mediated, such as town clerk and town attorney.
Chestnut said however, the water board will be dismantled.
He also said the mayor and fire chief will be given keys to locks, which were recently changed by the council.
Lovell told the parties, “Our goal is to get you all working together at the city of White Hall.”
Richardson said if issues cannot be resolved, they will return to court.