Meridian, Miss. The attorney for some former Meridian police officers awaiting hearings before the Civil Service Commission is fuming over a recent decision by that panel.
Bill Ready, Jr., says the vote by commissioners is blatant disregard for Civil Service rules, and a political move that shows the newly-appointed commissioners alliance with Mayor Percy Bland.
Civil Service commissioners recently voted to approve a request for a waiver for Bland, allowing him to hire some positions without following Civil Service procedures.
The vote was three to one, with Robert Stockton voting against it. John House was not present. Two days after that vote, House and Stockton resigned.
Meridian's chief administrative officer, Mike McGrevey, calls the vote appropriate, and a tool the mayor has the authority to use.
"There are many positions out there that are professional positions," said McGrevey. "And that's what's great about the Civil Service code. It recognizes you don't always need a test to fill a position and it provides you a variety of tools."
But Ready says that's not what the law allows. He says the vote by the three new commissioners disregards the requirements of the Civil Service Code that states the rules apply to all persons employed by the city, unless there are three requirements met for an exception, something Ready says the commission didn't address.
"They disregard what the requirements of the code are? And I'm expected to have an impartial trial before these three?" said Ready. "They obviously do not understand or don't care what their jobs are and they don't care what the law is. That's my problem. They are there to enforce the law and the Civil Service code, not do the bidding of the appointing authority and his administration."
Ready says it will be impossible for former Meridian police officers to get an objective hearing at this point, and wants a fully-staffed, fair commission to hear his clients' appeals. Two such hearings are coming up in just a few weeks.
Newscenter 11 tried to contact new commissioners, Alexia Rushing, Fred Liddell and Dawn Wright regarding Ready's charges. As of this posting, only Rushing had responded. Her response is that she "doesn't have a response".