City officials argue about Council meeting agenda
by David Lazenby
Nov 16, 2011 | 12987 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A squabble among two elected officials at Tuesday's Jasper City Council meeting prompted a council member to issue an apology to those who attended the meeting.

Councilor Morris Studdard rebuked the officials who got into the fuss: Mayor Sonny Posey and Councilor Johnny Rollins, who was perturbed that his request to have a matter placed on the meeting's agenda was denied.

"It was at one point on this agenda but someone took it off," Rollins said about his desire to discuss proposed city employee pay raises. Rollins said he believed Posey was responsible for the agenda adjustment.

Posey said he directed a city hall employee to inform Rollins that if he wanted to bring up the matter he could do so during the period of the meeting designated for councilors' remarks.

Rollins said he believes the mayor lacks the authority to revamp the agenda.

He added: "I don't know of any other council member who has had their items stricken from the agenda."

Rollins later said, "Evidently, the mayor can take off (of the agenda) anything he wants."

The back and forth between Posey and Rollins prompted Council President Sandi Sudduth to bang her gavel to regain control of the meeting.

"From this point on the council members need to be aware of the agenda prior to the City Council meeting," Sudduth said. She added that she hopes to have regular work sessions prior to each council meeting during which time the agenda can be discussed so that "this type of thing does not happen again."

The next work session will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday at Jasper City Hall.

City attorney Russ Robertson said according to an organizational ordinance adopted in 2008, the city clerk must receive all items for the agenda by noon on the Thursday prior to the Tuesday Council meeting.

"All items received past that time will go onto the next agenda other than emergency items determined by the mayor," Robertson said.

Rollins said he got his request in prior to the deadline.

When the brouhaha at the council meeting ended, Studdard said, "I'd like to apologize to the audience for the conduct that the Council seems to make in the last few weeks. It's embarrassing to me. It's embarrassing for our citizens to have to come and listen to this political agenda that is taking place between the mayor and one of the council members."

Studdard added, "There's a place to do it, but it's not in this open council meeting."

Councilor Lee Swann concurred. "I think all of it is unnecessary," he said.

Posey and Rollins also faced off during an Oct. 18 meeting of the Council in regard to overspending during the previous fiscal year that concluded on Sept. 30.

Many believe Rollins and Posey will face off in the next city election as Rollins seeks to unseat the mayor, who is expected to seek re-election.

"It's obvious what's going on," Posey said after the meeting.

Posey added that the apology was "overdue" and pledged to refrain from taking part in political squabbles at future council meetings. "I'm not going to sit in that douncil room and run for office," he said.

Rollins said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that he believes his confrontation with Posey during the meeting was nothing to apologize about because he believes the Council should do its work in public to better facilitate political transparency.