Comment & Observation
By Joe Lee III
It appears that former city manager Lakeylah White is receiving $5,000 in moving expenses without having to move to Grenada.
White was fired in executive session at the Grenada City Council meeting on Nov. 4, but before the executive session, Councilman Lewis Johnson made a motion to pay her $4,999 in moving expenses. Councilman Eric Harris seconded the motion. The motion carried 4-2-1, with Councilmen Johnson, Harris, Pete Wilson and the Rev. Ernest Hargrove voting in favor; and Councilmen Warren Cox and Larry Vance opposing. Councilman Eddie Merriman abstained. The council discussed a 30 to 60 day time frame in which to move.
The council had voted in the September meeting not to give White $5,000 in expenses from to move from Hattiesburg. She was hired by the council as city manager on Aug. 19, following Trey Baker’s resignation. Her salary was set at $75,000.
Some 90 minutes after approving moving expenses for her on Nov. 4, the Mayor/Council went into executive session and fired City Manager White.
Sources close to the contentious executive session meeting said the original motion to dismiss White was made by Councilman Cox and seconded by Councilman Vance. During the heated discussion behind closed doors, Cox reportedly withdrew his motion and Vance withdrew his second.
As the meeting progressed, Cox made his motion again, and this time it was seconded by Hargrove. The motion carried 5-1-1, with Cox, Hargrove, Wilson, Vance and Merriman in favor; Johnson opposing, and Harris abstaining.
After coming out of the closed-door executive session, the city took the action reinstating the moving expense.
Wilson made a motion to give White $5,000 in moving expenses. His motion was seconded by Johnson. The motion carried with four in favor – Wilson, Johnson, Harris and Hargrove. Three voted against the payment – Cox, Vance and Merriman.
Personnel Director Trina George has been hired by the Mayor/Council as the interim city manager. Her salary is $85,000.