McComb still won’t be able to pay its bills after the city board rejected the mayor’s nomination for an interim city clerk, leaving the job that’s crucial to handling city business unfilled.
In a special meeting Friday — called because just one board member showed up to a special called meeting to handle the matter on Thursday — the board voted 4-2 against appointing City Administrator David Myers’ as interim clerk.
Selectman Ronnie Brock, Donovan Hill, Devante Johnson and Shawn Williams opposed, while selectmen Michael Cameron and Ted Tullos voted in favor of appointing Myers.
Without a clerk, the city cannot pay its bills, including general obligation bond payments and other loans.
Before the vote, Johnson asked Mayor Quordiniah Lockley if he had consulted the board attorney about the legality of the appointment. Lockley said there is a precedent to do so, noting a previous administration’s move to make a city administrator a city clerk.
“Just because there is precedent doesn’t mean it is right,” Johnson said, asking Lockley to call interim board attorney Marcus Williams, who was absent, about the matter. Lockley called Williams, who said there was nothing barring the action in the city’s charter or though state law.
“I don’t see any statute that prevents it,” he told the board over the phone.
Williams noted that Myers would not be able to get the city clerk’s pay while filling in for the position, and Myers said he did not want it.
Brock said the appointment gives the city bad optics and there needs to be another option, noting there was a certified clerk already working at city hall that could serve in the position.
“It may be legal, but the appearance does not look good,” Brock said.
Williams, expanding on Brock’s point, noted that the city’s comptroller, Kim Vaughn, is a certified city clerk, and asked why Lockley did not put her up to the appointment.
Lockley said he wanted her to focus on her job.
“We hired her in as a comptroller. ... What we need her doing and focusing on is our financial records,” Lockley said.
Johnson said Lockley’s “reasoning does not make sense” because Myers’ position has even more responsibility and the job of the clerk is to be the chief financial officer.
“We have a clerk in the building,” he said. “She is well qualified and my suggestion would be to move her over that position, in her present duties, temporarily until we can fill that position.”
He asked if Lockley or Myers had spoken to Vaughn before the meeting and they said they had. Lockley said she expressed to both him and Myers that she did not want to be city clerk.
Brock asked if Vaughn was pressured to say that or “under distress.” Lockley said she was not.
After the meeting concluded, Tullos said it made sense that Vaughn did not want the temporary promotion.
“I think if I were the comptroller and I looked at what happened to the last city clerk, I wouldn’t want the job,” he said.
Brock, Johnson and Hill voted nearly two weeks ago to demote former city clerk Rosezea Scott to deputy clerk over an emergency purchase order she approved to have the police station deep cleaned following a COVID-19 exposure. Williams and Cameron opposed the demotion.
Johnson said the city needs a permanent fix, calling it “bad business” to have only one clerk with signing power.
Williams said he believed the right path was to promote Vaughn as a permanent fix to the loss of the city clerk, calling the action a “no-brainer.”
Johnson called for the vote.
After the meeting, Lockley said he would not call another special called meeting on the topic of a city clerk.