Hernando aldermen are set to reconvene a recessed meeting Monday morning which was carried over from last week's contentious city board meeting.
That meeting is set to begin at 8 a.m. at Hernando City Hall.
Mayor Tom Ferguson said Friday that he was of the understanding that the only item to be discussed involved the appointment of three vacancies on the Hernando Planning Commission.
He referred a reporter to City Attorney Kenneth Stockton for further clarification. Stockton could not be reached for comment.
From Ferguson's understanding of the law, statutorily and legally, all seven of the appointments could be made by the mayor but tradition has held throughout the past subsequent decades of city boards that the mayor receives an appointment and the vacancies on the Planning Commission can be filled by nominees from aldermen from those respective wards.
At last week's meeting, aldermen opted to consider the agenda put forth by former mayor Chip Johnson.
Ferguson submitted his own agenda the day of the meeting. Traditionally, the outgoing and incoming mayors sit down and have discussions about the timetable in order to prepare for a smooth transition.
This apparently did not occur. Aldermen typically receive an agenda several days prior to a meeting in order to familiarize themselves with items to be voted upon.
By a vote of 5-2, aldermen voted to consider the agenda approved during the waning days of the Johnson administration. The vote was 5-2, with Aldermen Michael McLendon and W.I. "Doc" Harris voting against the adoption of the agenda submitted by Johnson. Aldermen E.R. "Sonny" Bryant, Cathy Brooks, Andrew Miller, Jeff Hobbs and Gary Higdon voted not to adopt the Ferguson agenda, which would have postponed any appointments or reappointments until Ferguson has had time to meet and evaluate staff.
Aldermen, fearing that city business would be interrupted — as voiced by Ward 3 Alderman Gary Higdon — voted to reappoint the city officials currently in office.
McLendon pointed out that Horn Lake's flow of business was not interrupted four years ago when newly-elected Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer voted to basically make all officeholders as "hold-overs," waiting for his evaluation.
Ferguson said during that meeting and in a subsequent interview Friday that he only wished to be able to re-evaluate city employees and officials in citywide posts.
"I want to visit with every department," Ferguson said. "We may have the best team but just give me the opportunity to evaluate. I'm not trying to disrupt things. I want to play by the rules. It's just due process of law. That's all that I want. Being new, I was very unfamiliar with a lot of the items but I hope to gain a lot more experience as a public official."
Ferguson said he is set to attend the annual meeting of the Mississippi Municipal League, an organization which holds classes for newly-elected public officials and orients those new officials with Mississippi law.
Samantha Hill with the Mississippi Municipal League said Friday that she could not comment on Mississippi's system of traditionally "strong board, weak mayor" forms of governments, which shoulders more authority to elected aldermen in any given city.
The term "strong board, weak mayor," is a textbook term to describe the predominant form of municipal government in Mississippi. It should not be construed to be a pejorative or negative term.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.