What the hell is going on in Canton? There is a ruckus among us as our favorite engineer, the Madison County Journal, Barbara Blackmon and some other Canton dignitaries go at it. The Journal reported yesterday:
Engineer Rudy Warnock went beyond the scope of his duties to threaten and harass Canton Municipal Utility Commissioners, an attorney for one embattled commissioner alleged at a special meeting on Thursday.
A series of text messages presented by the attorney, who is a state Senator, also revealed threats to whip a Madison County newspaper publisher.
Attorney and State Sen. Barbara Blackmon presented a folder with dozens of copies of text messages provided by embattled CMU Commissioner Cleveland Anderson that include alleged text message exchanges with Warnock, CMU General Counsel Mike Espy and a number of other city and CMU officials.
Anderson, in a motion to fire Warnock on Thursday, claimed he went out of the scope of his duties as engineer and “caused dissent and interfered with the orderly operation of CMU.”
Some of the messages refer to policy changes Warnock allegedly suggests, as well as the capability to issue $45 million in bonds.
Warnock also allegedly threatens former CMU Commissioner John Noble and Anderson in a series of messages, even suggesting that Anderson should “answer the door when [the FBI knocks.]”
In another message presented, Warnock asks to have a meeting with CMU Attorney Mike Espy, Canton Alderman Andrew Grant, Alderman Eric Gilkey and “Tye Breedlove with the FBI office.”
There is an FBI agent in the Jackson office named Ty Breedlove. Following their procedure, a press request has been sent to the FBI for comment.
Warnock later discusses the Madison County Journal, a weekly newspaper based in Ridgeland, saying access to future information “Needs to cost them dearly!!!.”
He later apparently threatens Associate Editor and Publisher Michael Simmons in a series of text messages the state senator presented.
The messages presented by Blackmon and allegedly written by Warnock say:
• “He works as a reporter for Madison county journal which is pro republican and anti democrat.”
• “[Madison Mayor] Mary Hawkins tells him where to go and what to report!!”
• “You will never get a fair shake with him.”
• “He needs his ass whipped.”
• “Need a down home bitch slapping!!”
• “I’d pay good money to have his slapped silly.”
Any messages sent in that conversation following Warnock’s alleged threats were not included in the packet of messages Blackmon presented.
The CMU meeting Thursday morning followed a meeting by four Canton aldermen held at 8 a.m. where they voted 4-0 to replace Cleveland Anderson with Bob Winstead.
Those present and voting for the replacement for were: aldermen Andrew Grant, Les Penn, Eric Gilkey and Olivia Harrell. Mayor Arnel Bolden was not present.
Canton requires five officials present to call a meeting, however Penn cited an old case that allowed for aldermen to hold a meeting without the mayor present if he purposefully did not show up and under extreme circumstances. Penn said he would send a copy of that case law to the Journal. The Journal has not received that case law yet.
Anderson and Commissioners Lanny Slaughter and Cleotha Williams did not recognize the action taken by city aldermen Thursday morning and both state Sen. Blackmon and her husband Ed Blackmon Jr. concurred.
It is unclear which board officially presided over the meeting as Chairman Charles Weems did not recognize Anderson until it came time to approve the claims docket, when Weems seconded a motion by Anderson for approval. Every other motion made by Anderson was not recognized.
Weems attempted to have Canton Police remove Anderson from the meeting but Mayor Bolden told the officers to stay put.
The meeting continued with Winstead silent and Weems objecting to a series of motions that included the firing of General Counsel Espy and Warnock as engineer in a questionable 3-2 vote, with Anderson, Slaughter and Williams voting aye.
Kingfish note: As asked earlier, what the hell is going on?