Tempers flared during the McComb city board’s work session when a selectman asked for login information to view the status of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed against the city.
Selectman Ronnie Brock asked Mayor Quordiniah Lockley for the login information to the report. The mayor said he sent all of the information included in the report to the board, but refused to give the password.
Former Public Works Director Chuck Lambert, who was fired not long after the board’s term began in 2018, is the only known employee to have a pending EEOC complaint against the city. City officials would not confirm if the matter discussed Tuesday involved Lambert.
Selectman Devante Johnson asked how Lockley could have changed the password to access the file. Lockley said he got an email from the EEOC that asked him to change the password immediately, and he did so.
Multiple selectmen asked for the login information, but again, Lockley refused.
“I sent all the information to everybody,” he said. “As long as you got the information, I don’t see why you need the password to get in. ... It was sent to the mayor, and I shared it with the board.
“You need to understand that I am the chief executive, and they sent it to me — to my attention. I shared it with the board. I did not have to share it with the board.”
Johnson asked board attorney Angela Cockerham, who attended by phone, if it was normal for EEOC complaints to come to the mayor. She said reports come to the chief executive officer of organizations and municipalities and not to the board because of sensitive matters they could involve.
Johnson alleged Lockley’s exclusive access to the material presents a conflict of interest.
Brock asked how the selectmen could be sure Lockley gave them all of the information pertaining to the case and Lockley replied, “because I’m telling you.”
Selectman Donovan Hill said this hits the bedrock of the board’s issue: The selectmen and mayor have no trust in each other.
“The issue, mayor, is that there is a disconnect — I’m going to use the word trust— with this sensitive situation,” Hill said, adding that he would be fine with members of the board going to the mayor’s office and looking at the report on the mayor’s computer. “For all of us to move forward on solid ground ... we should have the same access as elected officials as stewards of the city that you have. This is a sensitive matter, and there is a conflict of interest.”
The mayor disputed Brock’s, Johnson’s and Hill’s claims of a conflict of interest. The three selectmen did not elaborate on what they believed the conflict to be.
Cockerham urged the board to take up the discussion in executive session. Johnson said he did not want to talk about the merits of the complaint itself, only the fact that the selectmen needed full access to the files, but the board ultimately decided to end the discussion and take it up in executive session at next week’s board meeting.