The Song Remains The Same – The July 31, 2012 Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Meeting

 

As is the case with so many Lowndes governmental entities, the Tuesday, July 31 meeting of the Lowndes County Board of Aldermen was rife with name-calling, accusations and other childish behavior – in short, par for the course.

One of the particularly vitriolic segments of the meeting involved a prolonged exchange between Board President Harry Sanders and Supervisor Leroy Brooks.

The confrontation was precipitated by Sanders initiating a discussion about the possible consolidation of Lowndes County and City of Columbus emergency services under the supervision of Ken Moore, Chief of the Columbus Fire Department. Sanders stated, “Anytime I’ve spoken at the Rotary Club or the Exchange Club or wherever, the question that always comes up is, ‘Is there any way to consolidate the city and county services to make things run smoother?’ Bill Brigham and I went to the city to see if anything was possible. We talked to the Mayor and he said that there was concern with that and he’d get with his department heads and let us know. Two weeks later he set up a meeting with Bill and I to come talk to him and the Fire Chief.”

 Brooks took vehement exception to this – not the prospect of consolidating services; rather it was the fact that he was apparently the only supervisor who was not informed about the inter-jurisdictional discussions beforehand.

 However – as is so often the case in politics – news of the proposed consolidation leaked to individuals in the emergency services sector and to other members of the community. In an attempt to quell rumor and calm concerns about possible layoffs and closures, Sanders stated, “The reason his [Moore’s] name was brought up was because he’s already in the fire department business, he’s on the board of directors of 911 – so he knows how that operates – he’s head of North Mississippi Homeland Security, he’s been instrumental in emergency management and has an expertise in hazardous materials. There’s been no decision on Ken being ‘the guy.’ That being said – and I don’t know where the rumor came from – the trucks from each fire department are going to be kept in their own district, per the law. That’s all illegal and it won’t happen. We’re not gonna fire or replace anybody.”

County Supervisor Leroy Brooks had his hand raised throughout Sanders’ presentation. After Sanders acknowledged Brooks, what was to be a litany, began.

“You can put your hand down,” interjected Sanders.

“Well I hope you don’t talk that long,” retorted Brooks. “The reason I’m here today is because somebody jumped the gun and spread all these rumors.”

Brooks continued, “The first thing I want to ask is, ‘Does anybody believe that?’  Harry knows this is not the way you do business. It’s insulting to be doing something without the authorization of the board.”

“I have no reason to trust you [Sanders] with anything because you distort the truth and you have a long history of trying to backdoor stuff. I doubt the city council had you go ahead with anything. Naturally, if you offer anybody $51,000 they’re going to make it work. It is total disrespect that you talked to city employees before county employees.

“When the county or city employees hear of all this propaganda, they get stressed out. You don’t respect Jeff [Smith] and I, and you certainly don’t respect the employees. If the employees are not capable, let’s sit down and see what they need to do,” commented Brooks.

“I never said that the current employees are in danger of losing their jobs,” said Sanders.

“If you’re not going to respect us, then why are we coming to the board meetings? I do not trust you,  ” stated Brooks.

“I don’t want to come in here and y’all laughing and smirking at me. Let’s respect each other. And you can sit up there and smirk all you want, because I’m sure they’ll skew it in The [Columbus] Packet.  They’ve written everything else. They put so much praise on Harry and how he likes me. It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Harry, you’re not going to do right. The Republicans are all about small government, which is a good intent, but then we know you.”

Sanders then took the opportunity to ask if Brooks was through, to which there was no response.

“I went to you first, Jeff. Then I went to other supervisors and told them what I was going to do,” Sanders said. “I brought four of the five people into this, and all it was, was a fact-finding effort.” The fact that there are a total of five supervisors appears to contradict math, in stating that he had brought “four of the five people into this.”

Sanders continued, “I specifically said, ‘Mayor, don’t jump the gun and tell any of your folks until I can tell Leroy and don’t let the cat out of the bag until I can tell people before it hits the street.’ That didn’t happen and it got out into the streets. Everybody’s been stirring it up.”

Brooks’ diatribe was not finished. “I’m not a hypocrite,” declared Brooks. “I don’t like you and you don’t like me. If there was still public viewing, maybe we could go out in the street and solve everybody’s problems, but we can’t do that. You’ve shown me within twelve years that you are a deceitful person.”

In a fit of non sequitur, Brooks brought up the recent incident wherein a black couple was unable to get married at a Baptist Church in Jackson due to the color of their skin.

In the end, nothing was resolved, and the drama continues.

Whit Harrington

 

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18 Comments on “The Song Remains The Same – The July 31, 2012 Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Meeting”

  1. AH Says:

    ________ and nothing ever will be resolved !!!! As long as you have Mr. Sanders and Mr. Brooks together in one room or in a 40 acre fiels there will be no peace on this Board. Leroy is protecting his people (ones he help put in place) and Harry is trying to move the same people out of these position. You have to be on Harry’s side or Leroy’s side. You can not be in the middle. I have seen good people go on that board and try to bring reason to this board but could not make it work. Harry knows he has the votes and will use them to have his say. If Leroy had the votes he would do the same. As I sit in the board meeting I could not help but wonder What Mr. Holliman or Mr. Brigham really though about this situation. It looks like Mr. Sanders has moved from Mr. Holliman over to Mr. Brigham for more support on this matter. Mr. Holliman has been Mr. Sanders shadow for the first 4 years. This story has more players than are shown on stage. The City will be involve as this story plays out. When you have 2 main players as strong as these two are that makes the others even weaker than they are. I don’t seen anyone stepping up to the plate and taking a swing on either of these two. A very weak cast! If I was in the line of fire (job prosition) I would try to tranfer out or retire if possible. Another sad day at the board meeting.

    Reply

  2. David Says:

    I heard there is a girl friend involved in this show down. Also a fire coordinator that “they wanted to get rid of. Does anyone know this for sure? What does the City have to say about them using their Fire Chief? Check it out Big Joe !

    Reply

  3. Berry Hinds Says:

    Had a problem with my keystrokes that b should be Berry Hinds

    Reply

    • Berry Hinds Says:

      Somehow my original comment is missing. Here it is.

      The some thing in the article that are confusing. First is the contradicting math comment “The fact that there are a total of five supervisors appears to contradict math, in stating that he had brought “four of the five people into this.”” Where is the contradiction. Supervisor Sanders stated he talked to 4 of the 5 supervisors about the researching possible consolidation of Emergency Services in Lowndes County.

      Then Supervisor Brooks bringing up the denial of a wedding service at First Baptist Church, Crystal Springs, MS is a comment the was not germane to the topic.

      While on the Crystal Springs church the pastor should have ask the dissenters in the church WWJD and proceeded with the wedding as originally planned in the church.

      Reply

      • Sam Says:

        See Sam’s reply above. By the way Barry – why don’t you run for office. I hear you are a well rounded person. We need help in the County and the City. If you live in the city that would be a great place to start. Help somebody !

      • The Real Story Says:

        We were just quoting each of the participants in the dispute.

  4. Sam Says:

    You are trying to make reason out of Leroy Q. Brooks. Can’t be done. His girl friends job was threaten. That is what got his tail feathers tugged on. You have to know the history behind Leroy and Harry. They are a pair of birds. Not like in “love birds”. They BOTH STRIVE on this crap. The Board would be a lot better if both would go home. nOne will die in this office. Mark it down. Then the other will declare himself KING.

    Reply

  5. Raider Says:

    First off, my questions is this…shouldn’t Sanders have to get Board approval before he can even go discuss something like this with the city? Sanders is the Board President, not the Dictator. He has entered into talks with another agency and discussed personnel assignments and appear to have already established the framework of the organization without approval. Now the cat is out of the bag and it’s going to get real messy. How does Lawrence, Fondren and Fancher supposed to deal with Moore now that he is in line to be their boss instead of their counterpart. I think Leroy has every right to call foul on this. In my opinion, Sanders has overstepped his authority.

    Reply

    • Sam Says:

      Sanders has the votes to do like he pleases. Holliman and Brigham will follow him off the cliff. It would be nice if these two would grow a mind of their own and a pair of other things. I know Holliman won’t. I see him hanging on to Sanders everywhere They go. Brigham has never has this much pressure on him. I can see the horror in Brigham’s eyes. He may fold. Leroy is just waiting for something to happen in this allegiance. Can’t wait to see when they pick the new CVB board member.

      Reply

    • Berry Hinds Says:

      As a citizen I believe that an elected official should be able to research on new ideas without the rest of their elected peers or even on any appointed board member. They do not have the authority to commit to anything. If we have to have consensus for a person to invest their OWN time for new possibilities then this community will always stagnate .
      Mr. Brooks is the last person that should throw stones since he has brought many ideas on funding and possible projects without informing other members of the board prior to a meeting.
      Everyone in the Lowndes County must be encouraging the board members to use ALL of the experience available to improve the County and the City of Columbus.

      Reply

  6. Thom Geiger Says:

    Leroy Brooks has discussed things with people outside the board room, without the board’s approval or prior knowledge, for years. When Roger Larsen would publish almost word for word what was said in BOS meetings, Leroy would come to the board only after he had something set up and ready to go, then he’d want the board to bless what he had primed and waiting. Mr. Brooks is not innocent on that topic.
    I didn’t see anything from Harry to that effect. What I do see is a lot of preemptive PR from somebody. It’s not that different from what JD Sanders when through when rumors were started about him taking over the city fire department, and later, consolidation with the county sheriff’s office. Neither was true, but some people intentionally spread the lies and fed the fires.
    Lies are lies, whether Harry tells them, Leroy tells them or somebody who’s trying to protect their own job tells them. In this this county and this city, we have a lot of people who think lies are okay as long as the right people are telling them. No they’re not. If you have to lie, you’ve already lost.

    Reply

  7. Raider Says:

    I doubt that the answer would be the same if the situations were turned around. However, just so I am clear, everybody will be just fine with Leroy and the Mayor and anyone else having secret meetings to make plans on the best way to move the city and county forward?

    Reply

    • Berry Hinds Says:

      I still have some faith the other elected leaders will be the check and balance in the processes. They can always opt to table issues to have time to for due diligence to determine the best outcome. The other balance is to totally vote down any item that has a motion and second. For things to progress the individuals must have the opportunity to delve into solutions without having everything out in the public domain.
      That is as long as they DO NOT VIOLATE the open meetings laws of of this state. On something as comprehensive as one person management of fire and emergency services for the County then a public forum should be a part of the process to truly define what is going to be done and the benefits that would be be the outcome. Not just feel good statements, but as was said in a past political campaign “Show me the beef”.
      For those advocating my running for office, I had thoughts of that in the recent past but after talking with those currently in office on the time commitment required if you do win an election that would not fit in our retirement plans at this time. Colin Powell said it best in his books. He did not wake up each morning with the absolute desire to run for public office. For those who have encouraged my running thanks for the complement.

      Reply

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