Who’s in charge? Part 2: Archie and Calhoun vie to lead abbreviated Monday board meeting
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Rev. John Taylor Jr. opened Monday’s Hinds County Board of Supervisors meeting praying for the Lord to help county leaders “walk in love and unity.”
Seconds after the prayer wrapped up, it was clear that unity was not on the minds of board members, and the meeting was recessed after three supervisors walked out.
Meanwhile, the board only met for about five minutes during the hour and a half WLBT was at the meeting, and no county business was done.
The reason for the hubbub? Supervisors Credell Calhoun and David Archie are still at odds over who is board president.
Archie, armed with a new nameplate declaring him president and sitting in the president’s chair, claims he’s the rightful leader.
Calhoun maintains he is still in charge, as evidenced by the fact that he, too, attempted to call the meeting to order and lead board members in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The District 3 leader sat in an office chair in front of the board’s rostrum, directly in front of Archie. He was flanked by fellow board members Vern Gavin and Bobcat McGowan.
“I am the president,” Calhoun said, as he stood up and turned toward Archie.
“You just a regular supervisor now. You’re not recognized (by the board) to speak,” Archie said. “I think you need to go join Donald Trump somewhere because it’s over with for you sir. It (was) over January 1 at 12:00, 12:01 a.m. in the morning.”
“It’s time to go to work and get some things done here in Hinds County... Supervisor Calhoun is now a regular supervisor and he did not ascend to the presidency (in) January 2022. We all have a one-year term, and so his tenure is over. He just needs to accept that,” Archie continued. “When Supervisor Graham was in the seat, we had a great year. It’s been totally chaos since President Calhoun has been in the seat and he continues to carry on chaos as you can see this morning.”
That exchange occurred before the meeting was called to order at 9:08.
Following the pledge, which Archie and Calhoun both attempted to lead, the two then asked for the minutes from the previous meeting to be read.
However, before minutes could be approved, Calhoun, McGowan, and Gavin walked out of the meeting.
The time was 9:09.
“My perspective is we have an attempted hijacking of the presidency... We voted to take him out of the vice-presidency and also voted last week that I continue as president. And that’s the board voting,” Calhoun said. “That particular person is just like a bully and (does) whatever he wants to do on the board.”
“He’s not the president because he was not vice-president. That’s just the way it is.”
The meeting resumed when the three walked back in and Calhoun made a motion to remove Archie from the meeting. The motion was seconded by McGowan and approved 3-0, all without Archie recognizing the vote.
Calhoun then walked over to speak to Chancery Clerk Eddie Jean Carr, while McGowan and Gavin attempted to speak with Sheriff Tyree Jones.
Jones did not remove Archie from the meeting, because the meeting went into recess after Calhoun, McGowan, and Gavin walked out of the board room.
Jones said the board needs to decide who is going to be president without involving him. “My priority is saving and addressing this consent decree and the Department of Justice, including the federal courts,” he said.
The sheriff went on to say that the federal government is paying attention to how county leaders conduct business and that what they see could impact “the outcome of their decision to allow us to govern our own detention facilities,” he said.
The county is under a federal consent decree to bring its jail into compliance with federal Department of Justice standards.
U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves recently issued a show-cause order for the county failing to comply with decree mandates and asked the county to tell him why the jail should not be taken over.
Some county officials seem to be put out with the board’s behavior. District 1 Election Commissioner Kidada Brown said supervisors need to focus on taking care of county business.
Brown and Commissioner Yvonne Horton were at Monday’s meeting, in part, to ensure that poll workers were paid for the November special election. Those workers cannot be paid until they sign off on it.
“We have to work together and get along. We are here to work for the people in Hinds County,” she said. “That’s what they expect us to do.”
At the heart of the matter is who is the president of the board of supervisors. Calhoun took over as president in January 2021, while Archie was elected vice-president.
Archie was slated to take over as president this year, but the board voted to remove him as vice-president in September. Archie, though, contends he was never removed because only three supervisors voted to oust him. He said four votes are required to change the county’s process for removing someone from a board position under Robert’s Rules of Order.
In December, the board voted 3-2 again to amend rules for electing president and vice-president. The decision would have allowed Calhoun to remain as president for the remainder of the current four-year supervisor term. Archie again said that vote failed because four votes are needed to change the policy for electing president and vice-president.
According to Robert’s Rules of Order online, a two-thirds vote is needed to amend, annul, repeal or rescind “any part of the constitution, by-laws or rules or order previously adopted” by a governing body.
The board adopted its policy for electing presidents and vice-presidents at its first meeting in January 2020.
“His day is over with. It’s simply over... That’s why we had the insurrection on January 6 in Washington, D.C., for people that want to be dictators and rulers,” Archie said during the second recess. “We can’t stand for that here in Hinds County. This is not Calhoun County, this is Hinds County... This is Hinds County.”
Archie, Calhoun, Jones, Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens, and Board Attorney Tony Gaylor eventually met to discuss the situation, with Archie agreeing to step aside to allow District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham to take over as president until the matter could be hammered out in the courts.
The supervisor also filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court asking the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent the board from approving the minutes where it elected Vern Gavin as vice-president.
In October, the chancery denied that order, in part, saying that it had “substantial concerns about whether the judiciary has, may, or should, involve itself in the interpretation of Robert’s Rules of Order as they are applied, or may be misapplied, by the various boards that operate under the umbrella of state government.”
A special judge was appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court to preside over the case.
The court also said it was unlikely Archie would prevail on the merits of the case. In November, Archie filed to dismiss that case. However, the case in circuit court is still pending.
Shortly before the meeting was recessed, a glimmer of hope appeared that Calhoun and Archie had worked out their problems.
“I told them, if he (Calhoun) stepped aside, Gavin would step aside, we would put a professional who has been here the longest, Supervisor Graham, in the seat until this matter is taken care of in the courts,” Archie said following the closed-door discussions. “I think that’s as fair as it can be.”
Graham is the longest-serving member on the board. Graham declined to be interviewed but said he would not be presiding over Tuesday’s meeting.
However, those hopes were dashed when the two presidents could not agree on when the meeting would be reconvened. Archie made a motion to adjourn until Tuesday at 9 a.m., while Calhoun motioned to adjourn until Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Calhoun and Gavin walked out before either motion could be voted on. Calhoun returned to board chambers momentarily to receive what appeared to be his hat. While he was still in the boardroom, Archie and Graham voted to reconvene the board Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 9 a.m.
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