By John Zippert, Co-Publisher
In the midst of Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Eutaw City Council, Mayor Raymond Steele announced that he had selected Derrick Coleman to be the new Chief of Police.
Coleman replaces former chief Tommy Summerville who died in December 2010. Assistant Chief Luther Davis has been serving as acting chief since that time and had applied for the position.
The Council functioning under an ordinance that specified that the Mayor recommends and the Council approves candidates to top positions in the city, such as chief of police, city clerk, city magistrate, etc., deadlocked in a 3 to 3 vote on Steele’s recommendation of Coleman for police chief at its May 10, 2011 meeting.
Mayor Steele passed out a paper with an e-mail from the Alabama League of Municipalities indicating that on May 27, the Alabama Supreme Court in a decision in the Fairfield, Alabama case of F. D. Scott v. Kenneth Coachman, ruled that the mayor is the hiring authority for municipal employees, regardless of any ordinance which gives the Council concurring authority. This decision went into effect 18 days after the May 27 decision unless a request for rehearing was granted by the Supreme Court.
The Mayor said based on this Supreme Court decision that his appointment of Derrick Coleman as Police Chief should stand.
Council member Joe Powell made a motion that the City of Eutaw ask its attorney to challenge the Supreme Court decision and seek a rehearing. This motion failed.
Several of the City Council members were angered by the Mayor’s decision and his approach in handling the appointment of the Chief without further discussion since it was such a divisive issue.
Councilwomen Hattie Edwards said, “The Mayor has handled this badly. He could have called an executive session and discussed this with us. This appointment will divide the City’s police department further. This could have been done in a better way.”
Councilwomen Sheila Hann Smith said that she was upset by the Mayor’s actions and that she would oppose anything he did in the future.
She then moved to disapprove a combination loan and grant to purchase six new police vehicles for the city. After some discussion, this motion was defeated by a 3 to 3 vote. Voting for the cars were the Mayor, David Spencer and Ralph Liverman while Sheila H. Smith, Joe Lee Powell and Hattie Edwards voted against. Since this motion failed, the City will go forward to acquire the new police cars.
Earlier in the meeting the Council bickered with the Mayor about the purchase of the police cars. The Council approved a plan in a meeting over a year ago on June 22, 2010, to seek funding from USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program for a loan and grant combination to purchase six new police cars.
USDA Rural Development recently approved the City’s request for a $97,000 grant (55%) and a $79,369 loan (45%) for six new police vehicles. The loan is for five years with annual payments and an interest rate of 4.625% on the unpaid balance. There is no penalty for early payment of the loan.
Hattie Edwards said, “The City is already in debt, we need to pay for these cars and not incur additional debt beyond our time in office.”
Joe Powell said he was not sure from the minutes if the Council approved five or six cars. Ralph Liverman said he felt new cars would relieve the city of high maintenance expenses for police cars which would yield enough savings to pay off the loan.
Mayor Steele said the loan and grant combination was “a blessing for the City and would help the police department better serve the City to respond adequately and effectively to crimes. If you have the funds and want to pay the loan off early – you can.”
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
– asked the Mayor to get additional bids from qualified companies for closing and sealing water well #2;
– asked the Mayor to get more information on linc/cell phones for the Councilmembers;
– prohibited issuing permits for the sale of fireworks until the state ban on burning is lifted, due to dry environmental conditions which could lead to fires;
– approved $5,000 for the West Alabama Regional Planning Commission to do a redistricting plan for the City;
– agreed to pursue negotiations with the County to fill-in the Clarence Thomas swimming pool;
– agreed to study needed improvements in the City’s computer system and bring back recommendations for upgrading the system.
Derrick Coleman, chosen as Chief, who has been with the Eutaw Police Department since December of 2007 and has extensive experience in law enforcement. He currently has the rank of sergeant. He served as a corporal in the Memphis, TN Police Department before moving back to Eutaw.
Coleman was born and raised in Birmingham but moved to Greene County and graduated from Paramount High School where he played both football and basketball.
Coleman says that as chief he plans to aggressively fight crime.
“Our biggest problem is drugs,” he said. “We need more positive things for our youth to do and we definitely need to get all of these guns off the streets. If we can do away with the drugs and the guns, we can do away with most of our other problems.”
At the end of the meeting during the public comment period many of the people in attendance observed that the Council was continuously fighting the Mayor and that the Mayor was not actively working with or consulting the Council. Several people observed that the loving community spirit and presence of God that was needed for the harmonious functioning of the City – was not present in the City of Eutaw. Several citizens offered to pray for the Mayor and the Council to help them get themselves together.
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Monday Tuesday WednesdayPartly Cloudy91/68Partly Cloudy90/68Chance of a Thunderstorm88/66
- May 2013 (26)
- April 2013 (32)
- March 2013 (37)
- February 2013 (31)
- January 2013 (43)
- December 2012 (33)
- November 2012 (40)
- October 2012 (42)
- September 2012 (35)
- August 2012 (50)
- July 2012 (41)
- June 2012 (37)
- May 2012 (43)
- April 2012 (38)
- March 2012 (35)
- February 2012 (43)
- January 2012 (36)
- December 2011 (45)
- November 2011 (43)
- October 2011 (36)
- September 2011 (45)
- August 2011 (29)
- July 2011 (13)
- June 2011 (18)
- May 2011 (15)
- April 2011 (14)
- March 2011 (18)
- February 2011 (14)
- January 2011 (15)
- December 2010 (16)
- November 2010 (13)
- October 2010 (13)
- September 2010 (15)
- August 2010 (10)
TagsAlabama New South Coalition ANSC Bingo disbursement Black Farmer Lawsuit CEO Luther"Nat" Winn CFO Paula Bird Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Dr. Martin Luther King Eutaw City Council Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) Federation of Southern Cooperatives /Land Assistance Fund Fund First Lady Michelle Obama George Zimmerman Greene Co. Sheriff Joe Benison Greene County Board of Education Greene County Commission Greene County Commissioner Greene County High School Greene County School System Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison Greene County Superintendent Dr. Emma Louie Greenetrack Greenetrack Bingo Inc John Zippert Jr. Lester Brown Mayor Hattie Edwards Mayor Pro-Tem Hattie Edwards Mayor Raymond Steele Mitt Romney NAACP Nick Underwood President Barack Obama President Obama Rev. Al Sharpton SCLC Senator Hank Sanders Superintendent Emma Louie Superintendent Isaac Atkins Supreme Court The Black Belt Community Foundation BBCF Grants Trayvon Martin Vice President Joe Biden