What began as a smooth, normal meeting quickly changed as council members averted their eyes toward the door. One could feel the tension as soon as Richardson entered the room. Shortly after police chief Ron Colburn reported on the department, district 3 council member Terry Mason grabbed his coat and papers, left his seat on the stand and sat for the duration of the meeting on the front row.
“It’s an insult to my integrity; it’s an insult to my religion; it’s an insult to my city that this man be allowed to sit as head of the city council or have anything to do with this city. I will not be associated with him. I will not sit up there while he’s sitting up there. If he continues to come to the meetings, I will conduct my business from the front row of the audience,” Mason said after the meeting.
The meeting was brief. Richardson thanked mayor pro tem James “Jimbo” Bray Jr. for conducting business during his absence. Richardson was released from jail on Sept. 27 on a $250,000 property bond after being arrested on charges of sexual misconduct.
He also has not returned to council meetings since his arrest supposedly due to health issues.
Richardson tried to carry on with city business by reading off the agenda, but council members and the city’s residents seemed to clam up and didn’t want to take part in the meeting any longer.
After the meeting adjourned, Richardson refused to comment and instead referred all questions to his attorney, Ken Guin.
“The Code of Alabama says that he’s the chief executive officer of the city. He’s duly elected. If people remember back, Guy Hunt was charged with an offense and he served as governor, I think, for about two years,” Guin said. “He’s been duly elected by the people; he has the right to serve, he’s going to serve. Now, if these councilmen want to cooperate and work with him, they can and if they don’t, fine. He can do it.
“He’s got hiring and firing authority in the city for those people who aren’t elected,” Guin continued. “He wants to work with the council. The question is do they want to work with him?”
Colburn continues to stand by what he has said in previous meetings about how Richardson should resign. He thought Richardson’s appearance Thursday night was “disgracing.”
“He’s lost all respect in this city, and he’s doing nothing but hurting it. If I had those charges against me, I would resign and not bring the city down,” Colburn said. “If I knew I was innocent, I would take a polygraph test. Now, I know it doesn’t hold up in court, but at least the citizens of Carbon Hill would know that I was innocent. ... This is just another slap in the face for Carbon Hill.”
When asked if Richardson would resign, Guin said, “He’s not going to resign. He’s innocent.”
Guin then pulled out a small booklet he said was the Constitution of the United States, which he claims he received his first day of law school.
“It talks a lot about people being innocent until proven guilty. The mayor is innocent right now. He hasn’t been proven guilty, and I’ve got several witnesses that I think are going to prove that fact when we get to court,” Guin said. “He’s not going to try it in the court of public opinion; I’m going to speak for him until then. These people took an oath to uphold the constitution and their actions tonight just shows that they’re not honoring that oath by how shortly they adjourned the meeting, by not wanting to say anything. That’s exactly what they’re doing.”
Mason said he will continue to serve on the council, but he refuses to stand by Richardson as mayor.
“I will do everything in my power to stop him. ... He’s not coming in this building, not with women and children going in and out of this building. He will not,” Mason said sternly. “I’ll stand in front of the door. I will continue to fight him with everything that I got. I will stay on the council in spite of him just so that I will have the authority to fight him.”