Joe P. Asher
A special called meeting of the Cumberland City Council failed to convene on Thursday. However, Mayor Carl Hatfield is alleging the council conducted an illegal meeting outside city hall.
Hatfield claims there was not a quorum present inside city hall at the designated starting time of 6:30 pm. He is also claiming, in a letter submitted to the Enterprise, that members of the council conducted an illegal meeting outside city hall.
“This evening when the council members were convening their meeting on the sidewalk, screening documents laid out on the hood of a car, this constituted an illegal meeting,” said Hatfield, claiming he witnessed the illegal meeting.
“I personally witnessed Mrs. (Carolyn) Elliott and Charles (Raleigh), two council members, discussing the papers with the reporter from the Tri-City News,” said Hatfield. “They were later joined by Mrs. Elliott’s daughter, also a council member. Their action in this matter would nullify anything that we would have accomplished during the special called meeting, even if they had been present at the starting time.”
According to Raleigh, no such illegal meeting occurred.
“None of that took place. This man is a bold-faced liar. That never happened. This is an insult to the city to keep calling off these council meetings. We had four members present. We had the news media… We had plenty of issues that needed to be discussed,” said Raleigh. “As far as Mr. Hatfield’s allegations, they are nothing but flat out lies. It’s just another one of his childish temper tantrums to not have a council meeting when he knew we had important issues to discuss.”
Raleigh noted council members did not discuss city business before the meeting.
“There was no discussion of any paperwork or any decisions to be made outside of city hall before the council meeting. Myself, one news reporter, Faith Clark, and Mrs. Elliott were actually just carrying on casual conversation. We weren’t talking about city business. We all assemble outside of city hall before the meeting starts every time. We’re not assembling in a meeting. It’s kind of hard to walk up the sidewalk and not have three or four members present at the same time. You’ve got to go in the building sometime.”
Elliott also denies an illegal meeting took place.
“The mayor’s statements are completely false and an attempt to distort the fact that he called the meeting off prior to 6:30,” said Elliott. “We were present in city hall prior to 6:30 and were advised he was calling the meeting off because it was 6:30. Mrs. (Leslie) Bush along with the chief of police showed him their cell phones that verified we were early. This is only an example and proof of this mayor’s unwillingness to work with members of this city council.”
Bush also said no improper meeting occurred.
“There was no illegal meeting. At no time were any three persons that are on city council ever at one place other than after the meeting,” said Bush. “No illegal meeting. That is not true. That is not correct.”
Cumberland City Attorney Parker Boggs was not at the meeting and had no comment when contacted Friday afternoon.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com