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Dissension at the Manning City Council Meeting

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At the Manning City Council meeting tonight, Councilman Ervin Davis deviated from the night’s agenda, making a motion, effective immediately, to abolish every City of Manning committee. The motion was instantly seconded by Councilman Julius Dukes. Mayor Julia Nelson felt the vote was out of order, as it was not on the agenda for the night. However, Davis was adamant. He stated his confusion and his constituents’ confusion over the recent decision of the Public Safety Committee. He felt the decision should have been put before the full Council. Nelson pointed out that Ordinance 2018-04 was given final reading and approved on June 18 during the last Council meeting, which not only created the committee but placed the Public Safety department directly under their control. Davis still felt the decision should have been brought back to the Council. Nelson, however, stated they were strictly advised not to do so by their attorney, as there was now a grievance process in place. This process would allow a terminated employee to go before a grievance committee, and if the terminated employee’s complaint was found valid, it would then go before the full Council.

“I don’t believe we received bad advice, as this is an attorney’s office that has thoroughly informed us in the past on what we needed. So by no means was this underhanded,” said Nelson. “I feel like the grievance committee was just a loophole not to get it brought back to council,” said Davis, who again asked for a vote on abolishing all committees. After several minutes, the vote ended at four-to-one to abolish all committees. Voting to abolish were Davis and Dukes, as well as Councilman Johnny Gordon and Councilwoman Diane Georgia. Councilman Clayton Pack was the dissenting vote. The council went immediately into executive session for two hours. Upon returning, the council made no action based on what was discussed in executive session. However, the previous motion and vote was overturned. Nelson stated the reason was because it was not on the agenda, nor was it placed there before the agenda was approved when the meeting began. She further stated the council would discuss it further at a later date. She closed by introducing Interim Chief of Police Keith Grice. She thanked him for stepping in while the Council decides how to move forward and confirmed she did not know how long he would be the Interim Chief.

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