Meridian, Miss. Meridian City Councilman Dustin Markham says the Council will likely ask the Mississippi Attorney General's office for an expedited decision on who has the power to conduct hearings for the Meridian's Civil Service Commissioners.
There's still no consensus after Thursday's special meeting in which Council Members and Mayor Percy Bland butted heads over Bland's surprise firings this week. The Mayor gave four Civil Service Commissioners notice of removal from office, but said as the "appointing power," he alone will conduct a hearing Monday night to hear their cases. Markham says although it's clear the Mayor appoints, the Council's role is essential.
"The duties are not assumed until the Council confirms those individuals. Because the Mayor and City Council are both essential powers," explained Markham, "My belief is that we both should have equal opportunity to hear the causes for removal as presented by the city, and any rebuttals or defenses that's put on by the individual civil service commissioners."
But the Mayor was confident the law is on his side.
"I am, as the Mayor, still looking forward to being in charge of those hearings on Monday," Bland stated.
Newscenter 11 contacted City Attorney Michael Goggans who told us Monday's hearing is likely to be postponed, but, he said, an official statement will come Monday morning. The attorney for the Civil Service Commission, Henry Palmer, told Newscenter 11 if there's no hearing for Commissioners Monday night, it's possible the Civil Service Comission will conduct business as usual Tuesday night with the already-scheduled hearing for former Meridian Police Officer Don Hopkins.