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Fight breaks out at Hinds Co. board of supervisors meeting

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 12:06 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More fireworks at the Hinds County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, as the war of words continued between District 2 Supervisor David Archie and District 4 Supervisor Vern Gavin.

However, the battle that has been simmering for months between Archie and District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun escalated, when Calhoun shoved a chair into Archie’s legs, prompting sheriff’s deputies and other county officials to rush in and separate them.

For his part, Archie didn’t retaliate, saying he could take Calhoun if he wanted to.

“I know he can’t whoop me, so there wasn’t no need in my trying to do anything to him... I’ll just wrap him up and bear hug him, and tell him I love him,” he said after the meeting. “But at the end of the day, I’m here to take care of the people’s business. I’m not going to back up to Supervisor Calhoun. I’m not going to back up to Supervisor Gavin, (Bobcat) McGowan, none of them.”

Calhoun, meanwhile, said he didn’t shove the chair into Archie but was reaching for it. “I was just trying to get my chair, that’s all,” he said. “The whole meeting was an altercation.”

At the heart of the matter was an agenda item to change the procedure for electing board president and vice-president.

The item was added to the agenda by Calhoun but was brought up for discussion by Gavin. The motion was to give notice that the board would be changing the rules for electing board presidents and vice-presidents at its first January meeting.

Gavin said the changes are needed to clarify how the positions are appointed.

Archie said the changes will ensure Calhoun can remain as president next year after his current term expires and maintains the motion is illegal.

A roughly 10-minute argument ensued, with Archie and Gavin telling each other to shut up, and Archie yelling into his microphone saying any vote would be “illegal” and “improper.”

“There has not been any discussion on changing any rules that were set up in our charter. After you have a discussion, then we should vote to put the matter on the agenda. They just placed it on the agenda, we know that,” he said. “They know that they’ve got to vote to put it on the agenda. You don’t just walk in here and put it on the agenda. That’s number one. And number two, anytime you change, anything that has to do with the charter... you must have two-thirds of the vote.”

Archie was referring to the rules that were put in place at the beginning of the term to elect the board president and vice-president. The rules state that a president and vice-president are elected at the first meeting of the four-year term and serve for one year. At the start of the second year, the vice-president assumes the presidency, and a new vice-president is elected.

Gavin’s motion to change the rules would allow Calhoun to serve at least through 2022.

Archie maintains that at least four supervisors have to vote to change the rules to allow Calhoun to serve. He said four supervisors also had to remove him from office, meaning that he is still vice-president.

“Supervisor (Robert) Graham and I are not going to vote to go along and get along with this foolishness that’s going on,” he said.

The board has a 3-2 voting block, with Graham and Archie voting together.

District 4 Supervisor Vern Gavin.
District 4 Supervisor Vern Gavin.(WLBT)

Gavin, though, says the District 2 supervisor is “cherry-picking” Robert’s Rules of Order for his own personal benefit.

“Contrary to what he’s proposed... everything that he says has been contradictory and false,” Gavin said at the meeting. “He clearly knows it, but he’s cherry-picking for the benefit of his own personal self.”

The District 4 supervisor doubled down on that claim following Monday’s meeting.

“It’s very easy to cite Robert’s Rule of Order and get to the point where it serves your purpose. That was Section A that was cited, where it requires a two-thirds majority. All he needed to do go was go to Section B of the same paragraph, and it clearly will have reflected what we did,” Gavin said. “I don’t think anybody who has followed the board meetings would question that we’ve had on the agenda a minimum of three times of notifying the intent of the board to remove him from office.”

Archie, though, said he doesn’t need to be schooled on meeting procedures. “He just got his book the other day, Robert’s Rules of Order,” Archie said. “He hadn’t the book 15 minutes and he just waved it (and said), ‘Oh, I can read.’ Man, all you’ve got is a book. I’ve studied this stuff. I know what’s going on... It’s a motion requiring a two-thirds vote to do any of the business they are trying to do.”

Archie has been at odds with Calhoun, Gavin and District 5 Supervisor Bobcat McGowan for months after the board removed millions of road funding from Archie’s district.

The board voted 3-2 to remove Archie as vice-president in September. At a meeting the following day, Archie was arrested by deputies after disrupting business at a special meeting.

He filed a suit in Hinds County Circuit Court in October challenging his removal from office.

“They want to make me look like the bad guy, but I’m not the bad guy,” he said. “I’m not doing anything illegal.”

Gavin says Archie’s behavior Monday proves he shouldn’t assume the board’s top leadership position.

“What is happening now is you’ve got a temper tantrum because he cannot have his way... demonstrating that he’s not apt enough to do the job that is going to be required as president,” he said. “Consequently, that was the purpose for removing him.”

Archie said he wasn’t going to press charges against Calhoun for the alleged assault, but maintains that come January, he will assume the role as board president.

“We will move forward in January. I will be the president or we (will) be going to the Supreme Court... on that matter.”

As for who will be president come January, Gavin said Calhoun will serve another term, and that he will stay on as vice-president.

Calhoun would not say whether he would be president but intimated he would be seeking a second term.

“The meeting will come in January and we will vote,” he said. “I don’t know how it will go. The vote has got to go down. You can’t say what will happen before the vote. I’ve been in this business too long and votes change.”

No arrests were made during the altercation and it would be up to Archie whether to charge Calhoun.

Archie said he was not filing charges.

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