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‘Clown show’: Archie disrupts vote on his removal as vice president, president-elect

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:55 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A special called meeting of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors had all the showmanship of a WWE fight.

Following the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, District 2 Supervisor David Archie began a nearly-five minute barrage, banging his gavel and yelling that the president was out of order.

The special meeting was called to remove Archie as vice president and president-elect.

District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun, the current board president, has twice tried to remove Archie, and both times the meetings erupted in chaos.

This time, Calhoun stepped away from his seat to tell Chancery Clerk Eddie Jean Carr that the motion to remove Archie was passed.

However, he was gaveled down by Archie, who again claimed he was out of order and could not conduct business away from his seat.

It was unclear when Calhoun brought up the motion or when the vote was taken. No vote could be heard over Archie’s gavel.

Calhoun could not be reached for comment.

Archie, meanwhile, continued yelling at the president, telling him he could not make a motion unless he was in his seat.

As the gavel-pounding continued, Calhoun returned to his seat, yelled for a motion to adjourn, and the meeting was ended on a 3-0 vote. Voting in favor to end the meeting was Calhoun, District 4 Supervisor Vern Gavin and District 5 Supervisor Bobcat McGowan.

What followed was a 30 minute discussion where Archie and District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham continued to blast Calhoun, questioning numerous decisions he’s made as president.

“He’s not going to be the 40-year con man he’s been for the last 40 years,” Archie said. “He did it at the city council. He did it at the state House as a representative and now, he’s coming to this county and proceeding with the same nonsense.

“I told the people of District 2 that I was going to come down here and I was going to do what was right,” Archie continued. “We’re going to challenge the status quo, go against the grain and make sure things are done right.”

Archie brought up everything from the board’s hiring of a Florida-based firm to oversee the county’s rental assistance program to bringing on a convicted felon to oversee the county’s re-entry program.

He also brought up the fact that only a handful of people were allowed in Wednesday’s meeting, saying that the president was not allowed to close off the meeting to the public without the board’s support.

Calhoun initially limited the meeting to 10 people, due to COVID-19, which would have prohibited anyone from the public from joining. Archie went to the back of the board room and directed the sheriff’s deputy to open the door and allow the public to enter. The deputy complied.

County Administrator Kenny Wayne Jones attempted to correct Archie, saying that the board voted to implement some COVID-19 guidelines previously.

Archie interrupted him, saying, “I don’t care what I took a vote for months ago.”

Archie continued, claiming that Calhoun was attempting to remove him as president-elect, in part, to ensure that he can continue to control federal COVID-19 relief money.

The county is set to receive $47 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan. The county has already received $25 million, Archie said at the meeting.

“President Credell Calhoun is playing a political con game and he knows it very well, because he’s been in the business 40 years,” he said. “He never expected to deal with someone who is from the Civil Rights era, the from the community activist era and now the political activists era. That is me.

“We have a whole different way of thinking. I want to help the people. He wants to help his friends around this county and other parts of the country. He made a motion to bring in a company from Florida to be over the $7 million (we received for the rental assistance program).”

The board brought on Integrity Group at its March 15 meeting. The contract was brought forward by the board attorney.

According to minutes, Archie voted in favor of hiring the firm, along with Gavin and McGowan. District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham abstained, as did Calhoun. Minutes show that Calhoun abstained “due to a potential conflict of interest.”

A copy of the minutes are shown below. The vote is listed on page 12.

As for the re-entry program, he said the county had spent $150,000 to fund it and no offenders have gone through it.

“We don’t have one person that has gone through the program that we call the re-entry program here in Hinds County. We have not had any judges to put offenders in the program. We have not had any probation departments or parole departments (that) can offer people to go into the re-entry program... there’s nothing going on,” he said. “What we believe is it is a scam.”

The supervisor also questioned why the program was being run by a convicted felon.

“Take a look at the person running the program. I brought this before you today. Louis Armstrong. I know Mr. Armstrong very well. I have respect for Mr. Armstrong. He’s a convicted felon. He’s running - this is the claim - he is running the program,” Archie said. “He is over the money we provided to the program, $150,000. And now they’re asking for $250,000. We won’t allow it. We’re asking the news media to do a thorough investigation of Louis Armstrong, who is supposedly the head of the re-entry program in Hinds County.”

Armstrong, who is listed as a special projects officer in Calhoun’s office, was not immediately available for comment.

The former Jackson city councilman served more than a year in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe to influence a council vote.

The re-entry program was launched in September 2020 and was modeled after a similar program in Birmingham. It is designed to provide housing, workforce training and other services for individuals who have been released from Mississippi Department of Corrections custody.

Archie was likely aware that Armstrong would be in charge of the program last fall, when he, Graham, Calhoun and Armstrong spoke at a news conference launching the initiative.

Louis Armstrong was joined by Supervisors David Archie and others at the launching of a program...
Louis Armstrong was joined by Supervisors David Archie and others at the launching of a program designed to help convicted felons rejoin society.(WLBT)

Meanwhile, minutes from a November 2 Hinds County Board of Supervisors meeting shows that Armstrong had briefed the board on the program’s activities, but do not show Archie making objections.

Archie and Graham brought up other issues as well, including the fact that Ivon Johnson, another convicted felon, was working as a special projects officer in another supervisor’s office and the Clinton-Byram Parkway.

“I want everyone to know there has been a tremendous amount spent on the Hinds Parkway. Last year, McGowan asked where the money was and how much had been spent and none could tell him,” Graham said.

Johnson, a former assistant district attorney in Hinds County, was convicted in federal court on charges of a reducing a defendant’s bond in exchange for money. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and a fine of $3,000.

Graham, one of the two supervisors who remained for the discussion after the meeting was adjourned, said Calhoun is trying to be a dictator.

“We do not have tyrants in Jackson,” he said. “This has not happened in years past. Now, all of a sudden, this is a clown show. The person leading the parade and the circus is Credell Calhoun. This is a clown show. We are better than this as a county and as a people.”

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