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Council denies 5 of Smith’s appointees

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Five of Mayor Jimmie Smith’s appointments were turned down at Tuesday morning’s special called council meeting.

Meridian City Council decided to not approve Meridian Police Chief Chris Read. After no discussion, the council voted four to one against him. Ward 1′s George Thomas voted for him.

Chris Read was chief of police for nine months. Before Read, the department was without a chief for more than a year. Tuesday afternoon, Read made it clear that he has nothing but love for Meridian and wants it to be a safe place.

“I had an opportunity to make an impact and to have an impact, not only on the department with the morale, but also the community support,” Read explained. “I said that the first night I was confirmed, that my goal was to get the confidence from the public back into law enforcement. For the most part I believe that has happened.”

There’s already rumors of lowered morale at the Meridian Police Department following Read’s departure. He wishes the department well.

“I would hope they would continue to be proactive, to continue to do their job no matter who was at the helm and just look out for the safety of the community. That 98 percent that want to feel safe doing things and being a part of Meridian,” Read said.

Ed Skipper was denied the Chief Administrator Officer spot in a 3 to 2 vote following a lengthy discussion about his proposed salary.

“I have seen cases in the past where the mayor and the council did not agree on everything and it did hinder the effort,” Skipper said. “I understand that people will not agree on everything, but the goal should be to try to do what’s best for the city, both the government and our city as a collective whole. I’m really concerned that we’re not seeing that. We are moving in the wrong direction. That’s the big concern I have.”

Skipper, who has worked in the city of Meridian before for 35 years, says this is not a good start.

“I’m really disappointed for the city of Meridian, both the government and the city as a whole,” Skipper said. “Mayor Smith was trying to get the best qualified people to help get us going the correct way we need to be going and doing some of the things the city hasn’t been doing in recent years. That’s the big disappointment I have. I’ll be fine either way.”

For the position of fire chief, Tim Miller, who was once Meridian’s CAO and fire chief, was turned down by the council with a 3 to 2 vote. Councilman Dwayne Davis mentioned that he also had a problem with Miller’s proposed salary.

The council also voted against Community Development Director Laura Carmichael, even though Carmichael says she turned in her resignation two weeks ago.

Also without discussion, the council voted 4 to 1 against appointing Parks director Trent Posey. He had been in the position since 2019.

“I’m concerned that we are not working for the people right now. The people of the city of Meridian is what I’m working for. I’m working for the best thing that I can do for this city. That’s the plan. There’s no other plan, that’s it,” Mayor Jimmie Smith explained. “I’ll be meeting with our city attorney and looking for his advice and the role as to what we can and can’t do. We are just going to work. There’s nothing else to do but ball up our fists, hit the desk and work, work, work.”

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