City council uproar in Earle

EARLE (Evening Times) - Tempers flared during a city council meeting that ended in a shouting match between Mayor Otis Davis and councilwoman Carolyn Jones.

The disagreement started after Jones accused councilman Robert Malone and Davis of bossing around the city's road superintendent and threatening employees with termination if they refused to follow their instructions.

"If I don't agree with you or speak my mind, I'm perceived as being disruptive," Jones said. "Well, I'm sorry. I will not and I cannot sit back when I know that something is wrong. If we would update our handbook and stop making our own rules, things would run a whole lot smoother. It is my duty as a council member to check on things when I don't think they are right or ask when I don't think they are right."

Jones was still upset from an earlier confrontation with Davis over approving the use of a city credit card to pay for a computer backup system for police department records, which she claimed she had no knowledge of ever discussing at a council meeting.

Jones also accused Davis of having an assistant mayor.

"I'm told we have an assistant mayor," Jones said.

"We don't have an assistant mayor," Davis said. "We have someone who helps out."

"No, I'm told this man is assistant mayor," Jones continued. "You cannot have an assistant mayor unless you are incapacitated. You are not incapacitated. You cannot have an assistant mayor. That came from the head of the Municipal League."

She then accused Malone of ordering around employees of the road department.

"I'm told Mr. Malone gives people orders and 'if you don't do this and this I'm going to fire you,' " Jones said.

"That's a lie," Malone answered.

"Let me tell you something. Mr. Malone is a council member. He has no more business giving the street superintendent or anybody who works for the street department orders," Jones said. "That's not our business. And, Mr. Malone, if you are doing that, I am going to report you to the Municipal League and the ethics commission."

"Those are only accusations," Davis said.

Davis told Jones that he has the authority as mayor to direct city employees.

"I am the commander-in-chief," Davis said. "As long as I am mayor, those who work for Earle will do what I say."

"You can't go around bossing people around on the street," Jones continued. "I already checked the rules. You have to go to the road superintendent. And Mr. Malone has no business telling them nothing."

"It's a lie," Malone again stated.

"It's a true lie," Jones persisted.

Davis ruled Jones out of order for her continued outbursts and threatened to have her removed if she persisted in disrupting the meeting.

"I call for order in the council and, Mrs. Jones, if you continue when I call for order, I will have you removed," Davis said.

"You do that," Jones fumed.

"If you continue to disrupt my meeting, I will have you removed," Davis continued.

Davis then adjourned the meeting but the bickering continued between the two and eventually spilled out into the street, where more heated words were exchanged between Jones and members of the public.

Davis said Jones's remarks are just the latest in a pattern of personal attacks that constantly disrupt the council meetings.

"It's a personal attack," Davis said. "Every meeting, there is always an outburst from her. It's been that way for two years. Number one, it's disrespectful. I'm here to do the people's business. Personal attacks should not be brought to a council meeting. But that's the way it has been with her."

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