In Response, Brooks Calls McFarland “A Queer Bastard”
It’s obviously the last week before election day. Can’t you tell?
All over the state, the fangs come out right before election day. And this election is no different. From the Phil Bryant/Dave Dennis gubernatorial ads feud all the way down to our local county supervisor races, those fangs are out in full force!
The District 5 Supervisor (Lowndes County) race has been simmering for a while. I’d heard some back and forths previously, but it finally came to a public head, Monday, at the supervisors meeting. At the end of regular business, District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders asked for closed determination to see if the supes needed to go into executive session on a matter. He then asked that everyone who wasn’t a board member leave the room (I was the only media represented at Monday’s meeting. RW).
The doors were only closed for a minute as Board attorney Tim Hudson announced that the supervisors voted not to go into executive session. The ‘matter’ brought up by Sanders was a letter written by District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks to Interim City School Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell asking for information on Kenneth McFarland (who, it should be noted, is a Democrat Primary opponent of Brooks’ in the upcoming Tuesday primaries. RW). Brooks asked for salary and job description information about McFarland.
A copy of the letter from Brooks to Liddell is accompanied here:
McFarland objected to the inquiry, mainly, because it was typed on official county letterhead (it contained the board of supervisors phone number) and McFarland suggests it’s an official board inquiry and objects to such. His letter of response to Sanders and the board can be viewed here:
After being presented with the letter by Sanders in closed determination, the supervisors voted not to go into executive session and Brooks reportedly responded by calling McFarland a “queer bastard” (I didn’t hear him say it. A board member passed on that info to me. RW). As the doors were being opened to the boardroom by Hudson, Brooks said, “Let me get out of here…ya’ll trying to keep me up in here for some bullsh** like this.”
As Brooks headed out of the boardroom and passed me coming in, he handed me a copy of the letters saying, “McFarland is trying to sue me over this bullsh**.” Brooks asked if board secretary Rowena Worshiam would make me a copy. Tim Hudson told Brooks that I could have his copy. Brooks told Sanders as he was departing the boardroom, “he (McFarland) needs to worry about keeping his job with all these job cuts.”
Contacted Wednesday, Brooks told me that he asked for the information on McFarland because of the recent budget problems and looming tax hikes. Brooks said it had nothing to do with politics, but many constituents had discussed McFarland’s recent raise (Brooks says the raise was from $25,000 annually to $45,000 annually) and Brooks and his constituents wondered exactly what his duties were to warrant such a large raise during a time of budget hardship. Brooks also said that he had heard McFarland and Dr. Liddell had a very close relationship. He noted that he has no intention of slighting Liddell because he doesn’t really know her.
“I’ve seen McFarland driving around in the school van and wondered if he had additional duties assigned to him. We believe those duties have been created just to help justify his pay raise,” Brooks told me. “His job has been a topic of conversation and I was curious as to his salary and job description..it has nothing to do with politics,” he added.
The two will meet in Tuesday’s Democrat Primary.
This coming Tuesday, August 2nd, is the day that the Democrat and Republican primaries will be held. Many still don’t realize that you’ll have to choose a party, Tuesday, because Mississippi doesn’t have open primaries.
First and foremost, I urge you to vote come Tuesday. It’s the only way you have of making a difference when it comes to having a personal say in how our public servants choose to handle your governmental affairs. No need in griping about elected officials unless you participate in the process.
Specifically, when you go to the polls Tuesday, you’ll have to choose which side of the room in which you’ll vote. Each precinct will have a Democrat side and a Republican side. You’ll choose which ballot (party) in which to participate. Which means if you intend to vote for incumbent Chancery Clerk Lisa Neese or her Democrat opponent Andre Roberts, you’ll have to vote all Democrat. If you choose to vote for one of the Republican sheriff candidates (Mike Arledge, Joey Brackin, Barry Goode or Bo Harris), then you’ll have to vote all Republican (of course, you always have the option of not voting in certain races, but once you choose a Democrat or Republican ballot, you’ll have to vote down party lines. RW).
I say all of this because I often hear people say that, for example, “I’m gonna vote for Barry Goode for sheriff and Lisa Neese for chancery clerk.” And that’s not possible! They are running in two separate parties.
The party primaries were set up to determine which party candidate will represent the individual party in the November General election. In the case of any race with at least 3 party candidates running…if no individual candidate receives at least 50% of the vote in the primary, the top 2 vote getters will square off 3 weeks later to determine the winner. And, thus, comes the hard part…getting voters back to the polls.
Lowndes County, the races that will possibly have a run-off 3 weeks later are: the sheriff’s race (because there are 4 candidates running in both the Republican and Democrat Primary, In each). The county school superintendent race (3 Republicans candidates). The final one is the District 4 Supervisor race (3 Democrats running). All independent candidates go directly to the November General election. In the General election, the top vote-getter wins regardless the number of candidates. And, of course, you’re free to vote for anyone on the ballot in November.
Again…the main thing is…please participate and Vote Tuesday!
US Justice Department Approves Lowndes Redistricting Plan
Though it’s somewhat a mute point now, county officials were notified by Chris Watson (of Bridge & Watson) that the US Justice Department had approved the redistricting plan submitted by the supervisors. County Administrator Ralph Billingsley told me of the approval before Monday’s board meeting.
It’s too late to affect the upcoming election. The supervisors will be running under the old (current) district lines. (As will the justice court, constable and statewide candidates. RW)
Columbus City COO David Armstrong
Last week I was critical of Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong because I had believed he wasn’t very friendly to former Police Chief St John’s supporters as he entered the municipal complex lobby prior to the council meeting where St John was later fired. I also said that I’d overheard Armstrong tell a bailiff to “check all these people for recording devices” prior to entering the council meeting.
I spoke with Armstrong Tuesday by telephone. He politely denied ever giving those instructions to the bailiff, instead saying he had simply instructed her to make sure, “all these people come through the metal detector.”
“I admit I came in and wasn’t being very friendly,” Armstrong told me. “I guess I was stressed about the situation with St John. You may not know it, but Joe St John and I were very close. As bad as I hated it, I figured I’d just go take my seat and do what I had to do,” he added.
I had also reported that Thom Geiger had been threatened with arrest for trying to bring in a camcorder. Armstrong said that was a total breakdown in communication. (Geiger met with Mayor Robert Smith and Armstrong this past Tuesday to address the situation. Armstrong said that they seemed to have ironed out the confusion.RW)
“I know I didn’t give instructions to ban recording devices because that’s never been our policy. When Captain (Fred) Shelton came to me (during the meeting) to ask if Thom could bring in a camcorder, I told him ‘yes’…i had no idea he was being told otherwise. It was simply a breakdown in communication.”
Armstrong couldn’t have been more sincere sounding and candid. It made me feel bad for beating him up so badly. He makes a really good point about being stressed. It was a stressful situation for everyone.
Armstrong called later to tell me he had spoke with a representative of the private security firm that is handling manning the metal detectors while entering the complex. He said the lady security guard that was manning the detector that night had been doing the same during city court, which takes place weekly in the same room. The court has always banned camcorders and she was probably thinking the same applied during the council meeting…which certainly made sense to me.
I appreciate the manner in which Armstrong handled the confusion after he realized there was some confusion. It should be noted that he was very professional in doing so.
I’m still hopeful that the city will be more forthright in providing information to its citizens. There’s still room for improvement!
Anne Burkart meets with Mayor Smith and Police Chief Selvain McQueen
Another meeting took place between a city resident with some problems and the mayor and police chief Wednesday. Anne Burkart had some issues that can’t be discussed at this time, but after her meeting with Mayor Smith and Chief McQueen, she came away pleased and satisfied. ” I was educated” Burkart said after the meeting.
She said that the mayor and chief couldn’t have been more respectful, informative and concerned about her issues.
She added that she hopes to reveal more information in the near future!
Constable Joe Ables
Longtime District 2 Constable Joe Ables has been stopping by The Junction lately. I had seen a campaign sign, recently, that always makes me chuckle. ‘Ables Is Able’ reads the sign. His Democrat opponent in Tuesday’s primary, John Brown, has also been spotted in The Junction in the past few months. Several more candidates, like sheriff candidate Mike Arledge and his wife, Patty, stop by. They seem to like the family atmosphere of the place!
Even ‘Packet Lady’ Sarah Fowler has been seen two-stepping a time or two at The Junction!
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com0