City Leaders Look Forward After Civil Service Ruling

Meridian, Miss. Though not all of the City Council agreed with the outcome of the Civil Service hearing, one by one, each of the Council members concurred that changes need to be made.

"I hate that it had to happen this way, but we've all learned a lot," Councilwoman Kim Houston says. "A lot of stuff is broken within our system. Not necessarily the people, but the process."

Hearing Officer Constance Slaughter-Harvey says she believes the discoveries made over the past few days will help the city to grow in the future.

"Justice was done in this case, and I believe that the mayor will now enjoy a better relationship with City Council persons as well as Civil Service persons," she says.

So what needs to be changed? Council president George Thomas says the commissioners need to be more familiar with their regulations, to start. And some of those issues might need to be updated.

"Based on the conversations we've had the past two days, there are a lot of things that have been brought up that need to be corrected, need to be looked at," he says. "As far as the testing procedure, as far as the operating procedure of the Civil Service Commission. What role does the attorney play in that? What role does the secretary play in that? All of that needs to be looked at."

It's the mayor's suggestion that a three-person Blue Ribbon Board be set in place to train these commissioners. Civil Service normally meets once a month. But since the hearing for these commissioners has put everything on hold for several months, he thinks they might need to increase that number.

"The Commission needs to look at possibly having more than just one meeting a month, so that we can first of all catch up in the very near future, but going forward, we need to be flexible to having more meetings," Mayor Percy Bland says.

The mayor and Council will work to determine what changes need to be made and how to go about those improvements as soon as possible