Jonesboro Mayor Hurls Racial Charges At Opponents In Town Meeting On Budgets

Saying “the slaves has always had a problem understanding the slave-masters,” not only did controversial Town of Jonesboro mayor Leslie Thompson play the race card at last night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, he threw the whole deck on the table.

He asserted the budget issues were a “cultural clash,” instead of about money, and there were “problems making adjustments.”

However, he wasn’t the first. From a careful review of the tapes of last night’s meeting it appears District D Alderman Devin Flowers was the first to claim racism, immediately after attorney Bobby Culpepper finished his public statement regarding his promise to litigate if a budget amendment was adopted.

During a comment from Alderman-At-Large LaStevic Cottonham, Flowers can be clearly heard saying “race” when Cottonham asked Culpepper what the lawsuit was really about.

Also quick to throw out the race card was Jackson Parish NAACP head Wendy Calahan.

Among her comments made were, “Do you really want to talk about budgets?” “We have problems, Mr. D. J., at the banks; we have problems when we go to other stores in the area.” “We have problems, have had problems, will continue to have problems between black folk and white folk,” she added.

Her tirade was in response to local banker D. J. Allen’s attempts to steer the discussion back on track to the subject of the hearing, ordinance #700 and #701.

There was some improvement, however. The mayor only took up about two-thirds of the public hearing with his commentary, unlike last month when he took up almost all the time at a similar meeting for which the public was supposed to be allowed input.

Thompson did swerve into one likely undisputed fact. “I’m trying to figure out what in the heck is going on,” he said toward the end of the public hearing.

Regular Meeting

The rhetoric cooled a bit during the regular meeting of the board. The department reports were uneventful and the alleyway ordinance introduction was table until next meeting, so that further details on descriptions could be worked out.

Ordinance #702 to reset the meeting times to 6:00 P. M. passed unanimously.

However, the #700 ordinance for budget modifications (upon which the public hearing had been held) was amended again prior to adoption. No opportunity for public participation was allowed, and at least two of the aldermen had not seen any of the figures in the budget amendments.

It passed on a 3-2 vote with Flowers, Charla Thompson and Cottonham voting for, and Sam Lamkin and Renee Stringer voting no.

Lamkin had tried unsuccessfully to table the ordinance until such time as the town’s books could be straightened out, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Likewise, ordinance #701, the one that doubles the mayor’s salary, passed on a three to two vote.

Also approved was a proposed severance settlement for former Fire Chief David Roberts, and permission to hire a contract CPA. The money terms for the CPA are yet to be determined.

The Executive and The Law

So the administration of the Town of Jonesboro continues to flout the law and spend the taxpayer’s money apparently however it sees fit.

Public officials often see themselves as above the law, and not answerable to the public, or the rules they are sworn to uphold.

One of the most famous examples was former President Richard Nixon, who is remembered for this timeless quote: “Well, when the President does it that means that it is not illegal.”

We all know how that one turned out.

Some Background

See here some history from when the ordinances were first introduced at the January meeting.

If an ordinance proposed at Tuesday night’s Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen is adopted at the February meeting of the board, the salary for controversial Mayor Leslie Thompson will be doubled, from $35 thousand/year to $70 thousand/year.

Also introduced at last night’s meeting was a revised budget undoing almost all of the work done last fall by the previous board of aldermen.

In addition to the doubling of the mayor’s salary, other changes include increasing the mayor’s travel budget from $1 thousand to $5 thousand; adding $12.5 thousand to ‘entertainment & marketing’; and adding $5.5 thousand to ‘town development.’

The $190 thousand contingency line item was wiped out.

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