July 8, 2009
The appointment of a former Columbus City Council candidate to the Lowndes County Industrial Development Board sparked a heated argument Monday during a county Board of Supervisors meeting.
Fierce exchanges between District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders and District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks marked the more than 30-minute discussion leading up to the board''s decision to appoint former Ward 5 City Council candidate Kenneth McFarland to the industrial board.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1, along racial lines, to appoint McFarland over former Ward 5 Councilman Jay Jordan, when questions were raised over potential conflicts Jordan might have with real estate holdings.
McFarland will fill the District 5 Industrial Development Board vacancy left last month after the resignation of newly elected Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, and will serve until Nov. 15.
Sanders, District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson and District 3 Supervisor John Holliman voted for McFarland. Brooks voted against appointing McFarland, and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith abstained from voting.
The appointment came several minutes after Brooks requested the board postpone the appointment until November, when Karriem''s term on the industrial board was set to expire. Historically, the candidate for appointment has come from the District 5 supervisor; Jordan was Brooks'' pick. McFarland is a political opponent of Brooks.
However, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of giving the appointment to McFarland. Sanders, Holliman and Ferguson voted in favor of keeping the appointment on Tuesday''s agenda. Smith and Brooks voted to remove it from the agenda.
During discussions on the appointment, Brooks voiced much criticism for McFarland, saying the board was "forcing McFarland down (Brooks'') throat."
"I totally disagree entirely with Mr. McFarland''s philosophy," Brooks told the board, as McFarland sat a few feet from him. "I want to at least have a person on that board that if an issue arises that needs to be resolved, at least I can sit down and talk with them.
"I do not think he can represent District 5 in a manner I would like it represented, and I don''t think this board should force someone on me," Brooks added.
After the board voted in favor of appointing McFarland, Brooks vowed the former City Council candidate would not "serve a peaceful day" on the Industrial Development Board.
"You''ve declared war, and you''re not going to win," Brooks said as he pointed at McFarland. "I want the public to know that I don''t want you representing nothing I''m involved with.
"You will not serve a peaceful day on that board. You don''t represent what I like," Brooks added to McFarland. "I will do everything in my legal way to keep you from serving on that board."
However, Sanders said the industrial development board appointment is a decision to be made by the Board of Supervisors, not a single supervisor.
"It doesn''t say anywhere in any place that the appointment to any board is the prerogative of the individual supervisor," Sanders said.
"Did you not appoint your guy?" Brooks shot back.
After McFarland''s appointment, Brooks announced his resignation from the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link board of directors.
"I know Link officials are involved in this," Brooks said of McFarland''s appointment. "I cannot support an organization that undermines what I try to do."
Because Link bylaws require two supervisors on its board of directors, the Board of Supervisors next month will elect a member to replace Brooks.
"You want us to choose your replacement today?" Sanders asked Brooks.
"You can do whatever the hell you want to do since you''re choosing all the appointments anyway," Brooks replied. "I don''t even need to come to the board meetings if y''all are going to run it."
In other business, the board:
If awarded, the grant could total as much as $221,228, and would require a 5 percent match, to be split evenly between the city and the county.
Sanders, Smith, Holliman and Ferguson voted for the motion. Brooks abstained from voting on the motion.
"Are you abstaining, Mr. Brooks?" Sanders asked Brooks after Brooks voted neither for nor against.
"Did you see my hand go up, Harry?" Brooks replied. "Just record it as you see it."
Dispatch reporter Neal Wagner did not attend Tuesday''s Lowndes County Board of Supervisors meeting. This story was written from a DVD recording of the meeting. Video segments of the Board of Supervisors'' Tuesday meeting are below.
psycho commented at 7/8/2009 12:08:00 PM:
And you wonder why people choose to live in Starkville.
Suped Up Visor commented at 7/8/2009 12:41:00 PM:
Who is wondering?
Leeroy Jenkins commented at 7/8/2009 2:29:00 PM:
This is just another example of why people need to vote so anyone who has been on that board over 8 years can get booted.
harry sanders is just an old coot and Leroy Brooks is a whiner and complainer that is looking to get out of as much responsibility as possible. That includes paying traffic citations and parking tickets.
Pica U commented at 7/8/2009 2:50:00 PM:
Amazing. I cull a few things from this article.
1. If I was McFarland, I would have asked Brooks if that was a threat. And if he said yes, being that its part of the public record, I'd have him arrested for said threat.
2. I've been around politicans all my life, and I've never, ever seen a bigger baby than Brooks. From his comments throughout the article, especially resigning from the Link board, it's just like a three-year old saying "I'm taking my toys and going home." Well, Leroy, Lowndes Co., would be 1000 times better off if you DID in fact go home.
3. Constituents of Brooks...wake up. He's not representing you. He's representing himself and what he believes is right. Self-importance is abounding here. Stop voting him in just because he's black.
4. Thank God I don't live in Columbus anymore.
Fed Up commented at 7/9/2009 1:03:00 PM:
Why are the people in Columbus even putting up with Mr. Brooks. He should have been voted out long time ago. He always thinks someone is out to get him. He owes it to his district to represent them and this is how he acts, next election it should be a different face sitting there. He acts like a big baby, he's a big bark and no bite. Its sad people like him are even involved in government affairs he should be in the daycare business so someone could see after him hes just a complainer and a person who always feels like hes in charge of something. Im glad I do not live there either
From District 4 commented at 7/12/2009 9:27:00 PM:
When will the people from District 5 wake up? Please send us someone who does not waste so much energy from all of us!
Concern commented at 7/12/2009 10:49:00 PM:
Mr. Smith please do not follow Mr. Brooks he is so self-centered. Being a civic-leader means having the ablilty to work with anyone to make things better for the community. If he wants to fight he need to go into a boxing ring. He is not about the business of district 5. It is time for him to retire. He is not the Black God of Columbus and his voice is not everyones voice. Brooks philosophy is, "if you scratch my back, I will scratch your". When will the favoritism stop? That is why Columbus is turning into a GHOST town. You all need some new faces and all of the old board members need to step aside and let some new ideas be presented so that Columbus will grow and continue to be the place that I am proud to call home. Mcfarland do a good job and pray the devil out of the Council. Don't be surprised if you are left alone. That meeting was such a joke. :)
Mel commented at 7/15/2009 2:48:00 PM:
Thank God I don't live in Lowndes County anymore. What a disgrace that board is. Just a bunch of good ole boys and one cerified idiot.
1. Ex-office manager arrested for embezzlement COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY