On May 10, 2010, Councilman Lavern Clancy Jr. expressed his desire to hear from Terrell Chipp Sr., Midway’s utility manager and fire chief, on the issue of a water controversy with the county. Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington cut him off and stated that the council would not consult with Chipp because he is not a member of the council. He is just an employee, and the council does not consult with employees.
He is just an employee? Chipp’s public-works experience includes nearly 30 years of working with Midway’s utilities. He was directly involved with the installation of much of the city’s water/sewer system. Who would know more about this topic than Chipp? Here you have a mayor with no experience in public works refusing to consult with an expert. It is no wonder Midway’s infrastructure is falling apart. How can anyone so unknowledgeable be so conceited?
The city has a huge debt, and the mayor wants to borrow about $600,000 to enter into a partnership with Riceboro to drill a well in the McIntosh community and pipe water to Riceboro and Midway. The plan to lay 34 miles of pipe could run into some serious problems with huge cost overruns.
At the Feb. 24, 2014 city-council meeting, Midway Finance Department Director Gwendolyn Lowe asked to sit in on the water project question-and-answer session. Councilwoman Melice Gerace spoke up and agreed that Lowe should be present. The mayor said, “She doesn’t have to be. No, she doesn’t have to be.”
Gerace replied, “She needs to be. She should be.”
Lowe has decades of financial knowledge and experience, whereas the mayor’s expertise in fiscal matters is limited. Lowe has handled the funding and grant applications for similar projects. Yet, the mayor doesn’t want to ensure Lowe’s understanding of the financial aspects of this proposed project? We are talking about a huge increase in the city’s debt — a debt that actually belongs to the citizens of Midway. Since the city has limited revenue, its citizens might just be looking at a new property tax.
The city council is about to approve a vicious-dog ordinance, which will be enforced by the Midway Police Department. You guessed it: The ordinance never was shown to Police Chief Kelli Morningstar for her comments. Who better to review the ordinance than the officers who have to enforce it?
On April 14, 2014, the city council approved an agreement with Liberty County concerning fire protection for areas of the county. Chipp, the fire chief, never was given a copy of the agreement or asked for his comments. And yes, this agreement is one-sided in favor of the county, and Midway will be paid a pittance for the extra work. Why does the mayor continually give in to the county? Is she looking for a county job when her term is over?
At the Jan. 13, 2014, city-council meeting, Washington assigned council members to supervise different city departments. None of the council members have in-depth knowledge of the police, fire and utility departments. That is why each of these departments has managers who are experienced in their fields. Why doesn’t the mayor want to hear from these department heads?
What makes the mayor think that her doctorate in elementary education qualifies her to make decisions without consulting department heads who have decades of education, training and experience in their fields?