The centerpiece of Monday night's city government brawl was a resolution proposed by council members Thelma Walker and Wayne Easterly to confer "no confidence" on Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones. The vote on the resolution was 4-to-4. Absent a tie-breaker vote by Mayor Carl Redus Jr. the resolution died.
The centerpiece of Monday night’s city government brawl was a resolution proposed by council members Thelma Walker and Wayne Easterly to confer “no confidence” on Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones. The vote on the resolution was 4-to-4. Absent a tie-breaker vote by Mayor Carl Redus Jr. the resolution died.
That there was even such a vote taken was a clear slap in the face to Davis-Jones, particularly as it follows a similar “no confidence” resolution passed recently by her subordinates in the police department.
Despite the council’s failure to pass the resolution, some members who voted against the measure made remarks betraying their tacit acknowledgment of problems associated with Davis-Jones’ tenure. They also freely criticized the administration’s failure to communicate more openly and fully with council members.
To that end, it was apparently a night for getting things off one’s chest. Following the knotted vote on the resolution, things turned personal. Alderwoman Irene Holcomb characterized the mayor as “arrogant,” referring to the angry reaction she got from Redus after she explained that some department heads do not feel they have to communicate with the council or respect anyone but the mayor, and her feeling that the attitude has spread because of the mayor’s behavior.
On one hand it would be wonderful to have an administration that was never wrong. On the other, it would require having an administration that was in actuality never wrong. We are not so burdened.
A case in point was the ruckus between Redus and Alderman Bill Brumett. Brumett asked Redus if there had been a formal response from Davis-Jones regarding the accusations leveled against her last month by Assistant Police Chief Ivan Whitfield. Davis-Jones fired Whitfield in February, but the firing was overturned by the council. Whitfield accused Davis-Jones in a letter to the council of retaliating against him for refusing to identify a source who had provided him with information that reflected unfavorably on a person that Whitfield described as Davis-Jones’ boyfriend.
“Those accusations were found to be untrue,” Redus said.
Brumett asked if there was some sort of documentation that could be provided to the council.
“Research that was done by internal affairs on that situation, those accusations were found to be untrue,” Redus said.
“Those accusations all are untrue?” Brumett said.
“Whether it was all of them, I can’t say to that, but that was just what you said: accusations,” Redus said.
Perhaps what Redus should have said was that a special investigation, outside of the normal Office of Professional Standards investigative mechanism, had found the accusations to be untrue… a team led by Davis-Jones appointee, Assistant Chief Kelvin Sargent. Resuming their adversarial tęte-ŕ-tęte, Holcomb and Redus locked horns over this issue as well, with Redus calling Holcomb’s remarks “disrespectful” and she in turn deriding his “wrong attitude.”
Even the public audience got into the act when Redus made the statement, “The last thing I need to do is micromanage…”
As the Commercial reported, his remark continued, but was inaudible due to the volume of laughter from the crowd. This detail requires no further commentary.
Then there’s Davis-Jones’ reaction to all of this. Of late, whenever controversy is stirring, she has been unavailable for comment. Given that at least half of the city council and many of her subordinates have expressed “no confidence” in her leadership, one might think she’d be more accessible, more inclined to discuss and defend her decisions and performance. Unless of course, as Holcomb alleges, Redus’ department heads only have to keep one person in city government happy.