Meridian, Miss. Something unusual in local politics has happened since last Tuesday's Meridian City Council meeting-Mayor Percy Bland has vetoed not one, but two ordinances passed by the City Council. Last May, the previous City Council and Administration did away with citizens' comments during Council meetings because they felt the time was being abused. On Tuesday the Council passed an ordinance reinstating a time for citizens' comments under specific conditions; conditions the Mayor didn't approve of.
Ward Two Councilman Dustin Markham says, "The procedure involved is to contact our Clerk and fill out a form that gives us an idea on what you're going to speak about a week prior to the meeting, and one of the council members can go and contact you, see what your issue is, and see if we can resolve it before the meeting, but that still reserves your right to speak at the meeting on that particular topic."
Mayor Percy Bland says, "I think that we should have Citizens' Comments, but I just don't think that the way the current policy is written with the time limitations and those sorts of things is proper."
One issue the Council has been working on since building the budget has been that of temporary employees, those hired for 90 days or less. Currently there are 26 temporary city employees that have worked anywhere from 91 days to over 20 years. The Council voted to stop temporaries' pay after 90 days, if they aren't working on becoming a full time employee, but Mayor Bland says that in some cases, it can take longer.
Markham says, "That's an incentive for them to do what they're supposed to do within the 90 day window."
Bland says, "I don't agree with a lot of those people losing their jobs right now because they've shown they can perform those job duties, and they've been performing them for a number of years."
The Council can either override the vetoes at the next meeting or let them stand.