Who’s in charge? Calhoun and Archie both claim they’ll be board president come Jan. 1
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Just who will be president of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors Monday is still up in the air.
Wednesday, the board voted 3-1 on a motion that would allow current board president Credell Calhoun to remain as president through the end of the current four-year term.
However, two supervisors say Wednesday’s vote was illegal, as was the meeting where the vote was held.
Meanwhile, District 2 Supervisor David Archie, who was elected as vice-president and president-elect at the start of 2021, says he will assume the presidency come January 1.
“This president has less than 72 hours to be the president of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors... So, we’re not going to pull a coup, to where he wants to be a dictator,” he following Wednesday’s vote. “I suggest he move to Cuba or North Korea, in those places where they have dictators.”
Archie said the board president is not a powerful position but is responsible for holding meetings and is the point person between the board, county department heads, and other elected leaders.
“He’s supposed to be the one the sheriff talks to concerning an emergency, emergency management, and then he’s supposed to feed that information to the other board members. But this president has clearly not done his job in terms of feeding that information,” he said.
A special meeting was held on December 29 to consider a motion to “change and/or clarify the board policy electing president and vice-president of the board of supervisors.”
The motion was passed on a 3-1 vote, with Calhoun and Supervisors Vern Gavin and Bobcat McGowan voting in favor.
Archie filibustered, preventing the vote for about 30 minutes. However, he was asked to leave the meeting by Sheriff Tyree Jones.
District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham attempted to object to the vote after Archie left the chambers, but was not recognized to speak by Calhoun.
In addition to the motion, Archie claimed Wednesday’s vote was illegal because the meeting was illegal.
Notice was given that the meeting would be virtual. However, Archie and Graham argued that the meeting was “improper” because the board did not vote to have a virtual meeting.
Calhoun, McGowan, and Gavin attended the meeting via Zoom. Archie and Graham were at the courthouse in-person.
“It was posted as a special called meeting, but it was changed somewhere... to where it was a virtual meeting. Proper notice was not given to the public, and when proper notice is not given to the public that makes it an illegal meeting, an unprecedented meeting,” Graham said. “I’ve been on the board since 2008. And we’ve gone to several of these particular types of meetings. Once we had a meeting at Jackson State, and the board decided they wanted to meet at Jackson State. In order for us to meet at Jackson State, we had to come in this boardroom and take a vote prior to meeting at Jackson State.”
“Another time, we decided to have a meeting at the Raymond Courthouse. Before we could go to the Raymond Courthouse, we had to come in this board meeting and vote on that,” he added. “The reason and purpose for that is that any time you have a meeting, it must be posted. Regardless of what type of meeting it is, it has to say the same thing Monday as it does on Tuesday. And the public has to have proper notice. If that doesn’t happen, we could just say we’re going to have a meeting at the Waffle House at 10:30 tonight.”
It was unclear when board members decided to hold the meeting virtually. Calhoun said he talked with other supervisors, who agreed to hold Wednesday’s meeting virtually.
“All you need is to get three to approve it,” he said, adding that the decision to go virtual doesn’t have to be approved in a public meeting.
State statute mandates that special called meetings must be posted within an hour of the meeting being scheduled and that the posting must be in “a prominent place available to examination and inspection by the general public, in the building in which the public body normally meets.”
The statute also requires that local governments post notice of the meeting online “not less than one hour before the meeting.”
Hinds County had posted its agenda online and it did show that the meeting would be virtual. No links were included with the agenda on the county’s website but were included on copies of the agenda available outside of the board chambers.
More than 10 minutes into the meeting District 4 Supervisor Vern Gavin attempted to call for a vote on changing the policy to elect the president, but he was shut down by Archie.
“There is no meeting once again, whether you object or not,” he said. “When you call for order, you can’t call for order of an illegal or improper virtual meeting that is not to take place, Mr. Gavin. So, it does not matter what you call for. There is no constitutionality that allows for you to call for order because there is no need. There is an improper and illegal meeting you are trying to have. And it is a virtual meeting that we did not take a vote on this board to move forward.”
Board Attorney Tony Gaylor approached the podium to speak but was told to sit back down. “Mr. Attorney, you can go and sit back down. Mr. Attorney does not have the power over this board this morning. You can go sit back down,” Archie said. “I suggest that you do some research and you have a seat. You work for us We don’t work for you.”
“Mr. President cannot move forward with any matter this morning,” Archie added.
About 27 minutes into the meeting, Archie stepped outside the meeting at the behest of the sheriff. He asked Graham to continue filibustering, but less than a minute later, Graham backed off after Calhoun said he was not recognized.
Calhoun then asked for a motion to approve the policy changes. The measure was approved on a 3-1 vote, with Calhoun, McGowan, and Gavin voting in favor. Graham voted in opposition. Archie was not in the meeting at the time.
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