Councilman proposes eliminating CAO position

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - More fireworks happened Tuesday at Meridian City Hall. Ward 5 Councilman Weston Lindemann, in his closing remarks of Tuesday’s city council meeting, proposed eliminating the chief administrative officer position.

The councilman raised questions about the mayor's transparency and the use of the CAO as a 'crutch' to handle mayoral business.

Lindemann claims the current administration has lied in past meetings and that the mayor has dodged the tough questions.

"Until we remove the CAO, we're not going to know if the mayor is comfortable and capable of leading and conducting business on a day-to-day basis," says Lindemann.

Lindemann proposed repealing Section 2-76 of the Municipal Code that outlines the duties of the CAO. McAlister declined to comment, but Mayor Bland came to his defense.

"I don't engage with foolery back and forth over a lot of things, a lot of times that aren't true. And then when you find out that there's no truth to them you still don't acknowledge that you were wrong in what you said the way Councilman Lindemann does a lot of times," says Bland.

Lindemann has publicly criticized the current administration on a number of occasions since he joined the city council. He says calling for McAlister's job is long overdue.

"There's a precedent of removing irresponsible CAOs in power. This one has gotten way out of control a long time ago. It's baffling to me that we haven't done this already," says Lindemann.

"I feel like that's probably what he's been wanting to do for a long period of time," says Bland.

The mayor says Lindemann should direct his attention towards improving his ward, rather than using the council meeting as a forum to call for someone's job.

"I have not had one time since I've been in office, communications with Mr. Lindemann in regards to things that are going on in his ward with his constituents, on what people are elected as city council people to do," says Bland.

"It doesn't mean it all started with this administration, but we certainly have a responsibility to take care of that now that we know what's happening with this current administration. And until we address those issues, it's only going to get worse," says Lindemann.

The council voted to take no action on Lindemann's proposal.