Bland Backs Out of On the Record

Meridian, Miss. Meridian Mayor Percy Bland was supposed to be the guest on this week's edition of On the Record, but he backed out just moments before the show was to be recorded Friday.

The mayor had agreed to appear on the show to talk about a host of issues, including the recent firing of the city clerk and suspension of the Meridian Civil Service Commission.

WTOK extended the invitation two weeks ago at the time Ed Skipper was fired and the MCSC was suspended and intended the mayor's segment to follow the appearance of Skipper and Meridian City Council president, Dr. George Thomas. Mayor Bland had a scheduling conflict, so the taping was delayed a week.

But before the show was to be recorded, Mayor Bland said he would not discuss those issues. When we didn't agree to those conditions, he refused to be on the show.

Of course, the mayor is always welcome on our shows to discuss the issues.

Later Friday, Mayor Bland sent a hand-delivered letter to WTOK news director, John Johnson, saying there was a misunderstanding on format and he felt it inappropriate to record the show until the misunderstanding is resolved.

Bland said he's eager to discuss important issues facing the city but not able to discuss in detail personnel matters or any issues that may be subject to litigation.

WTOK follows the same format for each show, with all questions 'on the table' and doesn't feel we were unclear on the topics or potential topics that would be discussed.