Amid tensions, more than 100 pack Gordon council meeting

alopez@macon.comFebruary 17, 2014 

GORDON -- More than 100 people packed into the small City Hall annex Monday evening, with many standing and a few peeking in from outside an open door.

It’s been like this for the past three Gordon City Council meetings, and resident Alicia Floyd said she and many other residents of this small Wilkinson County town want to see Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue removed from office.

“She doesn’t know what she is doing,” Floyd said before Monday’s council meeting. “We want her out.”

Floyd and four other people run a Facebook group called “Concerned Citizens of Gordon Ga.” A big topic of discussion among residents before Monday’s meeting involved a letter attributed to the mayor that the group posted on its page Sunday night.

In the letter, Whipple-Lue acknowledged the widespread opposition to her administration and suggested the fact that she is black and a woman drives her detractors. She also called for an audit of city financial statements and suggested the city is in violation of state law by having general fund expenditures exceed budget appropriations.

Monday, the council voted to approve an auditor and also to amend the city budget to fund the audit.

Afterward, Whipple-Lue said she was pleased both items passed.

The mayor is under fire on several fronts. City employees have accused her of racial discrimination, while residents have accused her of breaking open meeting laws.

”We know about some secret meetings, illegal meetings they may have been having,” said resident Konreid Etheredge. “We’re coming to the ones that are scheduled like this one to find out what’s going on.”

During the meeting, Councilman Terry Reese invited residents to request copies of the city’s budget in the name of transparency.

“We want everything to be open,” Reese said.

He also invited residents to get along as best they can with the mayor.

“I think they need to give her a chance,” said Tamara Smith, standing with a small group representing Whipple-Lue supporters.

How the mayor has been scrutinized since taking office in January is a product of her race and gender, Smith said.

After the council meeting ended, resident Bethany Brown approached Whipple-Lue to discuss the letter attributed to her that was posted on the concerned residents’ Facebook page.

Whipple-Lue denied arranging to distribute the letter only at black churches as had been rumored, but she admitted to writing it.

“Thank you for being honest,” Brown told the mayor.

Whipple-Lue declined to discuss criticisms made by the Facebook group.

“I’m not interested in what they are concerned about,” Whipple-Lue said. “As you see tonight, it’s distorted truth.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

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