Though nobody appears willing to discuss the details, there is clearly a power struggle going on in McComb City Hall.
Last week three members of the city board voted to remove most or all of Mayor Quordiniah Lockley’s authority, taking some for themselves and giving some to the city administrator.
This has happened before — 10 years ago, in fact, when Lockley was the city administrator and Zach Patterson was the mayor. The 2009 board, by a 4-2 vote, removed authority from Patterson.
After Patterson left office in 2011, the next board returned authority to the new mayor, Whitney Raw-lings. Now, with last week’s vote, the pendulum has swung the other way.
A couple of observations. First, this occurred because one selectman, Michael Cameron, did not attend the meeting. He would not have voted to take away Lockley’s authority, so it is quite possible that when he is at a future board meeting, he and selectmen Ted Tullos and Shawn Williams will vote to reverse last week’s changes.
If that happens, Lockley will have the guilty pleasure of providing the tiebreaking vote. It was a luxury Patterson never could muster, as four selectmen were lined up against him.
Second, the most curious element of this is why the three selectmen made this move. They may have hoped Williams would join them, but they also had to know that Cameron would oppose the measure once he returned.
For observation purposes, it is unusual that three black selectmen voted to remove power from a black mayor — only the second black mayor McComb has ever had. When it happened to Patterson in 2009, it was at the hands of three white selectmen and one black selectman.
Ten years ago, the board gave Lockley, as the city administrator, some of the mayor’s authority. Last week, as mayor, he lost authority — whether temporarily or permanently.
No one who thought the 2009 board had the right to redistribute authority can complain about what’s happening now. However, it also is fair to say that Lockley is a far cry from Patterson. At the very least, Lockley has not held any mayor’s chats to rip into people with whom he disagreed, as Patterson did regularly.
Which leads back to the original observation: Nobody’s willing to discuss the thinking behind this move. In fact, when Tullos asked what issues selectmen Ronnie Brock, Donovan Hill and Devante Johnson have with Lockley, none of them would discuss it.
If an argument during the board meeting means anything, it looks like there is some bad blood between Lockley and Brock. Maybe the mayor is trying to be in charge of everything and has annoyed the three selectmen. Or maybe Brock, recognizing the mayor has no veto, wants the selectmen to take charge.
In 2009, there was no effort at reconciliation between Patterson and the board majority that removed his authority. If this mayor and board travel that road, it will ultimately be an embarrassment — no matter who winds up calling the shots in city hall.
Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal