CSC Chairman Removed, Hearing Ends

Meridian, Miss. The Meridian Civil Service Commission hearing has concluded, with only one of four commissioners being removed.

Mayor Percy Bland withdrew his recommendation that three Civil Service commissioners be removed.

But on a 3-2 vote, the Meridian City Council did agree with his recommendation to remove the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, John Watts.

Watts' attorney, Bill Ready, Sr., said Watts will not appeal.

Voting for the removal were council members, Dustin Markham, Kim Houston and Randy Hammon.

The mayor and council came to the decision to remove Commissioner Watts because of the issues related to a specific city employee test. Civil Service Secretary Gloria Kirby testified as a witness today, saying that in a test for a new HR rep, she handed a list of the names of those candidates with scores to civil service chairman john watts. Kirby and Civil Service Commission Attorney Henry Palmer say they don't believe she was in the wrong by giving that list to her supervisor.

"The examining board works under and is an arm of the Civil Service Commission," attorney Bill Ready, Sr. says. "You can't have communication with outside parties between one commission and its employees are its arms."

But the mayor and majority of the council disagree. But despite alleged violations of the other commissioners by the mayor, he decided they would be allowed to stay.

"I decided that it was more of the process instead of the people on that issue," Mayor Percy Bland says. "On the Chairman Watts, I just felt there was too much information on specific tests and unfairness done there that we had to make the decision for the removal."

Three out of five of the council voted alongside the mayor. Council President George Thomas says he supports the council's decision, but did not personally vote in favor of removing watts.

"We all had different opinions on how to correct this program we've just been talking about. Now were there things done incorrectly? Yes. But the question becomes do you dismiss a person because of that or do you try to correct the problem?" he says.

Those commissioners can only keep their positions if they agree to attend training for the job.