BOE vote taken, two council members walk out

Published 5:55 pm Thursday, September 6, 2012

Demopolis City Councilmen Thomas Moore and Mitchell Congress walked out of Thursday evening’s meeting during a vote to fill the open position on the Demopolis City Schools board of education.

Bill Meador Jr., Jack Cooley and Mayor Mike Grayson voted in favor of Conrad Murdock’s appointment as Moore and Congress exited Rooster Hall.

It’s not immediately clear if the appointment will stand after the walk-out. However, Mayor Mike Grayson said after the meeting he thought it should.

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Jack Cooley nominated Conrad Murdock as the first item in old business, which promoted Mitchell to nominate Freddie Armstead Jr. Both men have been previously nominated this summer.

Thursday night was different in that Melvin Yelverton, who sided with Moore and Congress on previous votes, was absent, breaking what had been a 3-3 lock.

Congress said the vote shouldn’t take place the same night as a nomination for proper vetting. He referenced Aug. 2 city council minutes where he asked if someone could be nominated and voted on the same night and was told no by Grayson.

However, since both Murdock and Armstead have been nominated before, Meador said the wait wasn’t necessary.

“The crux is we don’t get new names one night and then be expected to vote on it the same night,” Meador said. “In this case, the same people have come up before.”

As a response, Congress rescinded his nomination of Armstead and instead nominated Lester Mitchell.

“We need two weeks for the council to vet Lester Mitchell,” Congress said.

Congress said Meador, Cooley and the mayor wanted to take the vote Thursday because of Yelverton’s absence.

“Melvin is absent, and you want to go ahead and put Conrad on the board because you have a 3-2 vote,” Congress said. “If this vote takes place, I’m walking out. … What is the problem in waiting until next week — Melvin might be here?”

Moore agreed to that council should have waited before making an appointment.

“Everyone knows what is at play today, and that’s not what we agreed to do,” Moore said. “I totally disagree with you.”

Cooley kept his nomination, agreeing with Meador that a vetting process wasn’t needed since Murdock had been considered previously.

Moore and Congress walked out at Grayson’s call for a vote.

The meeting was adjourned after the vote, with Grayson telling those in the audience: “Sorry you were witnessed to a walkout.”

The next Demopolis City Council meeting will be Monday, Sept. 17 at 5:15 at Rooster Hall.