Lundy: Racial tensions ongoing problem
by W. Winston Skinner
Grantville Council Member Barham Lundy says racial tensions have been part of ongoing problems in the city’s police department and concerned him so much he tried to fire Police Chief Doug Jordan eight months ago.
“I felt he has issues of race,” Lundy said. Jordan resigned June 15 following revelations that he used a racial epithet in text messages to other Grantville Police Department officers.
Grantville Mayor Jim Sells called for Jordan’s resignation, and Leonard Gomez and David Riley – who sailed into council posts last year with strong backing from the mayor – have questioned his decision-making in dismissing Jordan.
Now, Lundy – who often votes against Gomez, Riley and Sells – has spoken on the Jordan resignation. Eight months ago, Lundy made a motion to fire Jordan. He said he had sufficient support to carry that vote but was told his motion was out of order because only the city manager can recommend dismissal of a department head.
Lundy said his decision to ask for Jordan’s firing months ago followed problems between Jordan and Kelli Clark, an African-American woman who was the department’s administrative assistant, as well as problems Jordan had with Leon Buchanan, a local man.
Lundy said Clark was targeted for criticism after she refused to sign a time card – a violation of city policy – for an officer. Afterward, her work was constantly criticized by Jordan and City Manager Johnny Williams, who was fired several weeks ago.
Clark finally resigned. “She couldn’t handle it anymore,” Lundy said. “I’m surprised she hasn’t filed a lawsuit against the city.”
Clark could not be reached for comment Friday. According to Lundy, Buchanan was repeatedly stopped by Grantville officers. Lundy said Buchanan was targeted as a drug dealer, even though drugs were never found. “He hasn’t been convicted of any crime. He works every day,” Lundy said.
“Jordan had a problem with this guy, in my opinion, because this guy has a white girlfriend,” Lundy said.
Lundy said he had hoped to have a vote to remove Jordan without going into racial issues. “I kept it to myself. I didn’t want to make it an issue,” he said.
If his effort to fire Jordan months ago had succeeded, Lundy said he was prepared to recommend that Corp. W.T. Baker become the next chief. “After that, he became a target,” Lundy said.
Baker resigned recently. He declined to comment on Friday, citing his attorney’s advice.
Lundy also said he wanted to correct an impression left by a statement made to The Newnan Times-Herald by Gomez. Lundy said he did not compare fellow council members to Nazis. According to Lundy, he used that terminology because of the presence of a large number of police officers and their actions at council meetings.
“I had a problem with that,” Lundy said.
In addition, Lundy reiterated his ongoing concern with the city’s finances. “We have been spending, spending, spending.”
He said the city was $39,000 in the red in September of last year. The city ultimately moved $330,000 from enterprise funds – self-sustaining funds from utility payments. Generally, municipalities do not use enterprise funds for general operations.
“We have been using those funds to support the general fund, which is wrong,” Lundy said.
He said the focus on the council – since Sells became mayor – has been development along U.S. Highway 29 and in downtown Grantville. Neither will generate sufficient revenues to fund the town adequately, Lundy insisted.
“That won’t put the city back in the black. That will only help the mayor,” Lundy said. Sells owns rental property in the city.
Lundy said the focus needs to be on recruiting an industry or a business that will hire 75-100 people.
“If we don’t do that, we are doomed,” he said.