District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks Walks Out Of Meeting!
The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors met Monday morning for their early June meeting. The supervisors took up the ‘baggy pants’ issue, brought to the table by District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, among other county business. Near the end of the meeting, Board President Harry Sanders brought up the issue of ‘county policy’, specifically dealing with the incident where District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks allegedly cursed and screamed at County Administrator Ralph Billingsley while asking Billingsley to order him an iPhone.
Billingsley Talks About Vehicle Mileage Reimbursement Rate & Local DHS Office Expenses
Billingsley announced that the state of Mississippi had changed the mileage reimbursement. It increased from 51 cents per mile to 55 and a half cents a mile. The new rate went into effect on April 17.
The county administrator also brought up the Department of Human Services office dilemma, an ongoing one for the supervisors. DHS, a statewide agency, owes the county more than $20,000 in regard to the local office. The DHS has pretty much disregarded the supervisors’ attempt to resolve the issue. In the meantime, the county has continued to pay for a cell phone bill, utilities, pest control, janitorial and some office supplies. Billingsley said that the local DHS office cost the county about $20,000 annually.
District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham made a motion to stop paying the fees for the DHS office as of July 1. Harry Sanders agreed with Brigham, but pointed out that the supervisors and the DHS had already budgeted for the current fiscal year and recommended that they make the cutoff point at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which is October 1. This gives the DHS nearly four months to try and resolve the issue.
“That should give them plenty of time,” said Brigham. The supervisors voted 4-1 to cut off paying fees, with Brooks voting against the motion.
Billingsley also informed the supervisors that 10 teens had been hired to help with the summer program the supes had previously discussed. He said that the teens had been hired at a rate of $9 an hour and will work from 7 a.m. till noon, five days a week for 10 weeks. The teens started work this past Monday morning.
The supervisors conducted two property hearings. No one showed up to represent either property. A burned-out house at 78 Mohave Lane was found to be a menace to public health in the area because of the presence of rodents, snakes, etc. The supervisors voted to give the property owner 45 days to clean up the property.
The property located at 245 Belle Circle was also found to be a public nuisance. The supervisors voted to give that property owner 30 days to clean it up.
The supervisors also voted to spend up to $750 in advertisements to help promote the American Wind Symphony Orchestra concert that will be held at the Columbus Lock & Dam on Saturday, June 23, at 7 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith Brings ‘Saggy Pants’ Discussion To The Table
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith said, “I was contacted by some constituents that live in my district concerning the indecency of the way some people are wearing their pants below their buttocks. And in lieu of the fact that the city of Columbus has just recently passed amended policies to address the way that people are perceived in public in terms of their indecency, I wanted to bring before my board discussion about the possibility of amending and moving forward with the same type of policy. Which would make it consistent with the city. I’m here today to ask our board, if they would, to discuss this issue.”
Leroy Brooks said he had some discussion on the matter. “As repulsive as I find some of these young boys wearing their pants below their butt…I think it’s totally repulsive…but then, again, I’m from the old school. Because it would have never happened during our day because we would have gotten beat to death. There are some real legitimate questions. I guess because I’m getting old because I wear boxer shorts.
“My point is…if a boy has his pants showing his boxer underwear…and they’re clean and neat…and Marc says [He was talking about Chief Deputy Marc Miley, who was filling in for Sheriff Mike Arledge at the meeting. RW] ‘Look…I don’t like this!’ And the boy says, ‘Ok, I’m just gonna pull my jeans off and throw them in the trash…and walk around in my boxer shorts.’ He hasn’t violated any indecency law! Because…he’s got shorts on. What happens when a woman goes to the beach – and no disrespect for women – that wear a two-piece bikini? What if somebody decided that they wanted to wear matching panties and bra? Are they in violation? Likely not! Young boys leave the YMCA – swimming – they walk down the street with swim trunks on and no shirt, and…they’re not violating the law. Is…I don’t think…and the one that the city has got – I started laughing…it says ‘If it is found and determined that wearing pants or skirt below the the top of the hip is hazardous both to the person wearing the garment and to the general public…as walking when pants are below the hip to increase the length of the stride and thereby increase the likelihood tripping and falling and injuring self or others in the process’….I’ve seen a lot of women with skirts that were kinda short, and it didn’t hurt their stride…and they were not falling. I think we…and it is repulsive, it really is. Y’all have no earthly idea. And I’m gonna add this caveat to it, not to paint it, but we see it more in our community…ya’ll know that, let’s be factual. And it is bad…and occasionally we will stop and say to some of these kids, ‘Pull your pants up.’ Those kids that come from fairly decent families that do it for the fad will pull those pants up. Those guys that Marc and them have to lock up…the moment you go and say ‘pull your pants up’, cause there may be 23, 24, unemployed, mad…you’re gonna have to end up arresting somebody for aggravated assault and a whole host of things. I’m not sure the sheriff wants to be running all over Artesia and Crawford and Caledonia and all these places…I think for those of us who feel strongly about it…is that we ought to get in the street one Saturday morning, or one Friday evening…and we ought to become the police. We ought to go and get these kids and say, ‘Hey, son, pull your pants up’. I’m not for giving the law enforcement people any more reason to be a part of a stereotype situation that would cause problems for some of these kids that already have problems. It is bad…old people hate it. But then again, they hate afros and miniskirts. I hate dreadlocks…I can’t understand why a guy wants to wear long dreadlocks…cause it looks dirty. I just think we need to be careful before we start infringing upon on what may be the right of a person to be tacky if they want to.”
Harry Sanders said, “My position is exactly 100 percent agree with you, Mr. Brooks…I’m glad you spoke up first, because I was going to…but you…steal my thunder there, I guess. We don’t need to legislate people’s dress. First off, it’s unconstitutional. And if anybody went to court with it, they’d win…so it’d be a waste of our time. Our sheriff’s department and police department has better things to do than go around and police how somebody dresses.”
District 3 Supervisor John Holliman opined that if the schools had dress codes, and restaurants refused service to those who dressed indecently, it might solve a lot of the problems.
Jeff Smith, after hearing the positions of Brooks and Sanders, told the board he would drop it because it was obvious that there was no interest to proceed any further.
Harry Sanders reminded Smith that the supes got a ‘thorn’ in the Sunday Commercial Dispatch for discussing a ‘saggy pants’ ordinance. Jeff Smith said, “You know, for the first time in the five years that I’ve served…Harry, someone giving me a ‘thorn’ for representing people, I willingly accept that ‘thorn’. So, for those people that write for this community, you can go back and write that! Because as long as people that I represent ask me to come and be a voice for them…and respect their concerns…I’m gonna do that. Now, if that makes me wrong, then I guess I’ll be wrong. Every man and woman that represent people are wrong!”
Sanders said, “But you know what?…you get a ‘thorn’ for something that might happen!”
Smith said, “Yeah, I know…you get a ‘thorn’ for speaking up, for those people who can’t speak for themselves. So, I accept that ‘thorn’ on behalf of the people of District 4 and Lowndes County!”
Leroy Brooks said, “Well, since y’all are talking about the press, I’d like to say, St John (The Real Story) – I give you Number 1, Dispatch Number 2…and The Packet has gone back to ‘trash status’! [Brooks laughed sarcastically after saying this…no one joined him to their credit. Joe St John was present and told Brooks, “appreciate that!”. – RW]
Jeff Smith finished up with, “I’m willing to move forward knowing that I represented the people that I serve.”
Sanders Discusses ‘County Policy’ As It Relates To Dealing With and Speaking With County Employees
[In the following discussion, Harry Sanders is talking about the incident that I reported in previous Packets about Leroy Brooks demanding an iPhone from County Administrator Ralph Billingsley…and reportedly cursing and screaming at him in his office. RW]
Harry Sanders said, “I’ve got something here on the agenda, too, that I want to bring for discussion. And there’s some people who will disagree with me bringing this up in public…but, whatever. The county has some policies in their personnel handbook that employees have to follow. And I think on the same note that elected officials should be involved in that same handbook…in the fact that we shouldn’t use obscene and abusive language to our employees…and we shouldn’t be threatening and coercive to our employees. I wasn’t going to bring this up, but the (state) auditor overheard the conversation. The auditor told me that I need to bring it up and go on record that the board of supervisors as a whole doesn’t approve of that kind of language and that kind of abusive and obscene treatment of county employees. And, for two reasons…one, you don’t treat people that way, you treat them with respect. And the people that work for you…you don’t threaten them and you don’t use the Lord’s name in vain. And you don’t use cuss words and cuss them out or threaten them. I originally when I heard that this happened, I didn’t think it could possibly be true, so I did some investigation and I asked the auditor…and they gave me a blow-by-blow description of what they heard. [An auditor was near Billingsley’s office when the incident occurred. – RW]. I went and asked the county administrator (Billingsley) what happened and he gave me a blow-by-blow description of what he heard. Then I got a call from one of the newspapers [He’s talking about me. – RW] because they heard about it. I told them what I heard and they said well, it agrees with what they heard.” [At this point, Brooks laughed again…and again, no one was laughing with him. – RW] Sanders told Brooks, “You can think it’s funny if you want to…but I also went far enough to look at the Facebook response that this particular person…[Again, he was talking about a Facebook comment Brooks made on my page. But Brooks, growing impatient, interrupted Sanders. – RW]
“Harry…let’s put it out there. I went up and said some things to Ralph…so, you’re talking about me and Ralph.”
“No, no…you said, ‘you can laugh’, so you were referencing me. So, let’s put it out there…”
Sanders and Brooks were speaking at the same time at this point. Sanders told Brooks he hadn’t recognized him. Brooks said, “Well, you don’t have to recognize me…I’m gonna recognize my…” [Sanders asked Chief Deputy Marc Miley, while Brooks was still talking, to get Brooks under control because he was ‘out of order’. Miley started to stand up but was motioned by board attorney Tim Hudson, by holding up his hand, to ‘hang on’. Miley sat back down. I’m glad he did…I wanted to see it hashed out. – RW]
As Miley started to rise from his chair, Brooks said, “So, the sheriff is going to escort me out because I’m disagreeing…Marc, you better go check the law…you don’t have the authority because we disagree.”
Sanders to Brooks: “You are out of order!”
Brooks: “What I’m saying to you is…put it on the table!”
Sanders to Tim Hudson: “Tim, you are our attorney…”
Brooks: “Put me and Ralph on the table…”
Sanders said, “I’m gonna put it on the table…”
Hudson said, “One at a time…”
Brooks: “Ok, now…put it on the table! Let’s put it on the table…yeah, I went up to Ralph’s office, so for all of y’all that need to know what he’s talking about, he’s talking about me and Ralph…so let’s go!” [Sanders was still trying to speak while Brooks was talking.] “I’m finished, now you finish so I can say what I’ve got to say,” said Brooks…who was starting to lose it!
Sanders said, “This all has to do with an iPhone. Leroy went to Ralph Billingsley’s office and said that he wanted an iPhone. Ralph said, ‘I’m sorry, but we don’t furnish iPhones to..” [Again, Sanders was interrupted by Brooks.]
“That’s not what he said, but go ahead,” said Brooks.
Sanders continued, “I’m not going to order you an iPhone. The next day Leroy comes back to his office and says, ‘Ralph, have you ordered my iPhone?’ Ralph says, ‘No, I haven’t.’ He (Brooks) said, ‘I didn’t ask you to order me an iPhone, I told you to order me an iPhone…and you better order me an iPhone!’ Ralph said, ‘I’m not gonna order you one….we don’t furnish iPhones to supervisors.’ Well, it deteriorated from there with Mr. Brooks raising his voice and screaming and hollering so everybody in the county administrator’s office upstairs heard him. The auditors were in the next room, next door, auditing our books…they heard every word. And Mr. Pat Balwyn, the head auditor, told me out of his own mouth, that he’d been auditing people for 16 years and he’s never heard anything as bad as that. Now, there are two things wrong with what happened. First, you don’t treat employees that way, and the second thing is…when Mr. Brooks told Ralph Billingsley, ‘I’m your boss!…and you need to do what I tell you to do..that you work for me, I’m your boss!’, that’s illegal, too, [Brooks laughs again at this point.] because Ralph Billingsley does not work for Leroy Brooks, Ralph Billingsley works for the board of supervisors…and there’s no one supervisor that can go and order any employee to do anything.”
Brooks interrupted again, “Hell, you do it all the time, Harry…you do it all the time, Harry!”
Sanders said, “I don’t order anyone…”
Brooks: “You do it all the time…”
Sanders: “Well, call my hand on it next time!”
Brooks: “Well, hell…is…”
Sanders: “Because you’ve been getting away with this for 16 years.”
Brooks: “Nah…I’ve been up here almost 30…let me tell you one thing, Harry Sanders…you think this is a plantation and you’re the plantation master, cause people run away from you. Let me tell you one thing! If you wanna prop Ralph up, just like you have…just like you did Nick Hairston and Rocky and Howard and them…you go up there and you have arguments with him. My whole point was not the phone, the fact is…he is one of the employees… Rowena (Worshaim) don’t talk to me like that, Dave (Basinger) don’t talk to me like that. And since you want to put Ralph out on Front Street, I’m gonna tell you straight up…when I think that he’s disrespect me, he may get some more of the same thing. You know, I grew up in an environment where old black men worked all day that had to say ‘yes, sir’ to the young white boys that would disrespect one of them. This is not 1950. Is…I can go pull a newspaper article…where you cussed about one of the black female employees, publicly, to the Dispatch. We had a female employee that alleged that you groped her…ok. You know, Marissa…you’ve done forgot all of that! You go around…what you like to do, you like to think that you’re the only somebody in the county cause you’ve always got the vote to do what the hell you want to…but I’m gonna tell you straight up…if I have to spend my next four years stalking you for your foolishness, I will! Now, I’ve tried to get…if Ralph wanna be your boy, like he is…like you always try to…you go up there and you try to get him to do stupid stuff…now, he won’t say anything bad about any person. I’ve been around here long enough, I know. You’ve talked about Rowena to people…I can get a list of people that you’ve abused. And you’ve got the audacity to talk about treating employees…If Ralph wants to be disrespectful…and Jeff (Smith) can speak for himself…I don’t think he’s treated us the same as he treats you-all…he doesn’t treat anybody the same as he treats you. I made a request for him to send a letter to the other banks, do you think he sent it?…No, he didn’t send it. Why didn’t he send it? If you had asked him, he would have sent five or six. So I’m letting…Chief St John, Ron Williams…where’s the Dispatch?…so whatever editorial y’all want to write, I’m letting you know, as long as Ralph Billingsley is disrespectful, he can get prepared for the rebuking. And as far as Harry Sanders…I personally don’t give a damn what you think, Harry! You ain’t my boss…now you can threaten everyone else and run all over the county threatening other people…Sam Pilkington and other folks…it’s not gonna happen. Now, if you want a good four years, we can have it. You can write all the editorials that you want, I’m letting you know…when an employee disrespects me, be prepared. I don’t care what the auditor said…I don’t care what the auditor said. So, I’m finished with the conversation, pass whatever ordinance you want, I’m going to my office cause I’ve got work to do…but you ain’t the plantation master!
“And then, if you think you are, remember guys like Matt Turner and other folks who that rose up on the plantation,” Brooks said. “But your days are numbered, your season will come. You know, you are a demagogue! You know, the South has produced a lot of men like you. And that’s the reason Mississippi is where it is now. Because you think that you can just mistreat people. You go in there and try and browbeat Ralph. Now, Bill Brigham came to talk to me personally. and he said everything he had to say to me personally. If you had wanted to know my side, just like that trash he wrote in The Packet [He was referencing me. – RW]…about something somebody else said, well I don’t consider him a journalist, anyway…I consider him…he is what he is! You know, you’ll never be a part of the social elite…you know, all you’re gonna do is what you are, but…is, you are being used! If you had wanted to know, you could have come and asked me…just like Mr. Brigham did. But you’re going on something…you didn’t hear me say any cuss words, you don’t know if they were good or bad, yeah, I said some! But it wasn’t about the iPhone, it was the fact that this is not the first time that Ralph…he can’t tell me whether I need paper or pens or anything in office…that’s not his job. Now, if he wants that role…he came here, he came here as a fairly honorable person. You are starting [He’s talking to Sanders again, now. – RW] to beat him down just like you did the other administrators…to do trash! You know, you used to get Ronnie (Burns) to do it, but Ronnie’s got enough sense, he treat everybody right. I’ve seen road managers come, I’ve seen administrators come…you’ve wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money, because you want to be the king, but I’m telling you, you need to walk on away from me. I’ve said all I’ve got to say…I’m not going to be subject to…” [Brooks started to get up and leave but Bill Brigham asked him to please wait. Brigham asked to speak.]
“Leroy, don’t leave yet,” Brigham said. “Leroy, you and I have talked, and I respect you very much. But it’s not right to bring the race card into this. Because I don’t feel that way, I don’t think Ralph feels that way, I don’t think John feels that way…and I…”
“It’s a historic perspective, Bill,” said Brooks.
“Yeah, but we need to get past that historic perspective,” said Brigham. “And I told you in our meeting…I thought you lost your temper too much and we don’t need to do that!”
Brooks acknowledged, “You said that.”
Brigham continued, “I said that. And I’ve always respected you. But we’ve got to get past the race card. And it doesn’t do any good to bring it up, it’s not good for our community, it’s not good for our board, but more importantly, it’s not good for our community.”
“Bill, can I say something?” Brooks asked. “And I’m gonna say this and I’ve said this all of my life. You’re one of the most honorable men that I’ve met. And I hope that at the end of the political year, that we’re the same. I will go out of my way to show you respect, because you have not shown me anything. And what I said to you in private, I’ll say here. I hope you do not get caught up in the politics. And you did talk about race relations. But you know what, I didn’t think at that moment…race relations has to start at the top. It’s two black men on this board. If this board had wanted to show some iota of good relations, they would have made Jeff vice-president since we had a white…I mean, let’s be real. We’re the only county where black people on the board don’t get to be anything but sit by the door. So, if we want to symbolize to the county good race relations, let’s start right in this board. Jeff Smith should have been vice-president, Harry was the president…it doesn’t matter to me, but, that would have sent a good gesture. Over at city hall you’ve got a black mayor and a white vice-mayor, so when we start talking about good race relations, it has to start here. And so, I’m not getting on you, I’m just making a point. Is…again…what I do and say on this board will be determined greatly by the fact that you’re here. Is…you have a great burden to carry on your back. Because you are a respected and honorable man in this community…you’ve got those crazies out there trying to get you to do stuff, that may be in the best interest. If you fail, then I would have lost all my hope in humanity in this community…because you represent to me, that one person. So, is…I didn’t lose…Ralph caught me in a wrong kind of way. And I’m still gonna say…he works for me. Harry goes up there, you and John don’t. Harry goes up there and say things to…you’re a different person. So, I’m saying to you, is…just like I said in private. I respect you, I’m always gonna respect you. We may disagree, but I’m never gonna be indignant to you, because of who you are and what you represent. But I’m saying is…Dave never disrespects me. For Harry to sit up there and be as hypocritical as he is…but the Bible says the world loves a hypocrite. There is no person, I’ve served with 18 different men, there has never been one like you! [He’s talking about Sanders again.] But you end up like Nebuchadnezzar. [The Biblical king of Babylon who conquered Jerusalem and kicked the Jews out. – RW] Go read the Good Book and you’ll find out…you go around and fool with everybody. On your bad days, you’re disrespectful to people. You browbeat poor Nick Hairston till he could barely walk. You had Rocky [Former Road Manager Rocky Allen. – RW] doing all kind of crazy stuff. And you know what you do? You use them up, and you throw them away. You get rid of them. I said to Ralph when he got hired, I hope that you will not come here and be tainted by the politics of Lowndes County. I’ve known Ralph for a long time. It’s something strange about honorable men that set around this table…they lose their way. And the one thing that’s in common…is you, Harry! Now if Ralph thinks he works for one supervisor…or two or three or maybe four, that’s fine. There’s five of us. And if at any point that I feel that he’s being disrespectful, I’m gonna handle the situation…and guess what..it ain’t nothing you can do to me. I’m grown…and more important than that, I’ve been here longer than you. So, I’m just laying it out on the table. I hope we don’t have this discussion any more. And I’m gonna promise the Good Lord and Bill, I hope not to be losing my temper, but I’m gonna tell you all, is, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But your season is coming, Mr. Sanders! And you are not the plantation boss! And now you run from here to there, all over the county. You were out there at Glenn Mast dealing with something you didn’t have anything to do with…you harassing Sam Pilkington..and you just go everywhere. You know, what you need to do is…you like to go over to the LINK, you need to go over there and find you a chair, but I’m gonna tell you…I’m at a point in my life, where it really doesn’t matter about some things. So, I’m gonna tell you, you need to leave me alone! I’ve put up with you for a long time and I’m at a point in my life where, a man gets tired…and I’m tired of you! I’ve tried to stay out of your way, but I’m letting you know…leave me alone! Now, for the rest of y’all that believe in him, if you want to tell him something good, you better tell him to walk on!”
Brooks got up and walked out of the meeting as Sanders tried to speak.
“Let me say one thing,” Sanders said. “Mr. Brooks, don’t take the easy way out. I still think Mr. Brooks owes Mr. Billingsley an apology. And he owes the citizens of Lowndes County an apology…and I hope that most people don’t believe everything that he says, because it’s not necessarily true.”
Jeff Smith asked if he could speak.
“First of all, I had hoped if we we’re gonna have this discussion, it would have been in closed confinement,” Smith said. “This should have been discussed in closed confinement if we were gonna do it, if for no other reason…for the sake of Ralph. And for the sake of any other employee that might be privy to the same courtesy. [Sanders tried to interrupt but Smith asked to “please let me finish!” – RW] We knew where this thing was headed from Day 1. And we all kind of knew that it was gonna be an issue, and if it was gonna be discussed, it should have been in closed confinement. Ralph is personnel…he is an employee of the board, so it should have been discussed in closed confinement. Regardless what you say and what took place, I’m not taking sides…I wasn’t there and nor were you. I heard some things like you heard some things, but the reality of it is, this should have been discussed in closed confinement. It was speculation and that’s what it should have been…speculation. But the mere fact that we sat here and discussed this whole thing in front of the media and the general public, it’s wrong. Cause everybody is gonna leave here with their own opinion. Right, wrong or indifferent. There is no right in it now! Regardless what was done wrong initially, there’s no right in it now! Now, that’s my opinion, I’m entitled to it. All I’ve heard is other people’s opinion since I’ve been sitting here, so I’m entitled to mine.”
Sanders said, “Let me say something…Jeff, I discussed this with Mr. Brigham and with Ralph and with John…even with Tim…about going into executive session about this. But it’s not an executive session issue. Executive session is going in there for a personnel issue, and this is not, or a legal issue, which it’s not. So, it’s already out in the public because there’s three articles in the newspaper. Mr. Brooks went on Facebook…and I’ve got copies of what he said on Facebook…which are very racial content. And the way I look at it is that he’s been doing this now for 13 years since I’ve been on the board…he did it to Nick Hairston, he did it to Rocky Allen, he did it to the road manager before Rocky [He’s speaking of Hal Bagget – RW], and he’s been able to get away with it, Jeff, because nobody had the courage to come and face him personally…face to face, in a public meeting, and let the public know what he does. The only reason I brought it to the board is because the auditor told me that we needed to go on record, on record…disapproving the unacceptable behavior by a supervisor. First, it’s illegal when he ordered Ralph Billingsley to do something. And when he illegally said, ‘You better do what I want you to do.’ Now, I didn’t want to do this. we’ve been getting along pretty good. But we get along pretty good because we accept unacceptable behavior from people and we can’t continue to do that. We can’t. And to sit there and listen to him bring up all these stories and make it a personal attack. He’s the one who brought it up to make it a personal attack. He said, ‘Let’s get it out in the open.’ I wasn’t going to mention anybody’s name, I just wanted to we have to have a policy that says we can’t do this anymore. He did it! Now…he gets up and leaves because he doesn’t want to face the music because he knows he did wrong. And he needs to apologize, and he won’t. And I hope he’s gone and taken his medicine.”
Ralph Billingsley said, “Harry…a lot of things were stated today. I want the record to reflect that I have never disrespected any of y’all…nor will I ever disrespect any of y’all. That is absolutely not true, and that did not happen…and it will not happen from me. And the record needs to reflect that.”
Sanders said, “The auditors told me out of their own mouths that you tried to explain to Mr. Brooks why you were not gonna buy an iPhone and he would not let you talk. As a matter of fact, in that conversation that Mr. Billingsley never got to say more than 10 words…because the rant and the raving was so abusive and loud that Ralph couldn’t get a word in and he couldn’t say anything. Y’all never have seen this side of Mr. Brooks, and I’ve seen it time after time…in private situations where he bullies people. And it’s gonna have to stop! And he sits there and says I do it. And he sits there and says this is a plantation mentality. He cannot come up with one single time that I’ve ever bullied or ordered any employee to do anything. I have disagreements with Ralph, but we disagree agreeable. We have a difference of opinion sometimes…and Ralph, I’ve never ordered Ralph to do anything…or any other employee, Ronnie or anybody. I just want to go on record that Mr. Brooks speaks with forked tongue when he sits there and says all that stuff.”
District 3 Supervisor John Holliman said, “I’d just like to say that I don’t think any employee of the county should be subject to any abuse like what was said toward Ralph. And I don’t think that any employee works for any one of us individually. That it’s a board and as a group. And I just don’t think that it should be tolerated, for an employee to have to endure such profanity.”
Jeff Smith said, “All I’m saying to you guys is, there’s an underlying issue that goes beyond this discussion about what was said in that room that day. There is some credibility to some of the things that were said here. There is sometimes a double standard…there is some times where sometimes some people know and other people don’t know. It does make you feel like you’re not on the same level, or you’re not being given the same respect. You see it from different eyes. Ok. You see it from different eyes. It’s easy to sit here and judge and pass judgment…and I choose not to do the latter. But the reality of the whole thing is sometimes we feel like we play second fiddle to the other three supervisors. I’m being honest, I’m being straight-forward. It may not be intentional, but that’s the way we feel. That sometimes information is shared with some and not shared with others. That sometimes some hear and some don’t hear, depending on where the vote is and who has the power and three votes to get things accomplished. It is an issue. It is frustrating. I’m not justifying anything, guys. I’m not justifying anything. I’m just telling you that you’ve got to see it from more than one perspective. I’m not justifying anything! Everything stands on its own. But I’m saying to you guys, you gotta see out of the eyes of a black supervisor, or two black supervisors. Leroy Brooks has been here a long time. I’m not defending Leroy Brooks, he can stand up for himself. All I’m saying to you is from the eyes of this black supervisor, sitting on a minority board, where we’re the minority and you’re the majority…I’m not saying you guys have not been fair, I’m saying that sometimes we get the feeling that we’re not being treated equally. That we’re not given the same privileges or given the same information in a timely manner to allow for us to have input. That we just have to stand here and raise our hands whether we agree or disagree. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just telling you how I feel. Bill, you and I talk. We talked a little bit about that, in closed session. So, what I said today is what I said to him when he and I talked.”
Smith went on to talk about Brooks bringing up the drafting of the letters to the banks. Sanders countered that Brooks has always brought race into the issue. Bill Brigham made a motion that they suspend discussion. The board recessed until the next meeting on Friday, June 15, at 9.a.m.0