Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton filed suit in Hinds County Circuit Court today to force the Jackson Democratic Municipal Executive Committee to recognize him as a Democratic candidate running in a local election.
Melton's attorney John Reeves, who is also representing Melton in his federal civil-rights trial, said committee members were "beyond reasoning with."
"I attempted to work with (Jackson Democratic Municipal Executive Committee head) Claude McInnis without filing suit, and he advised me this afternoon that he had talked to members of his committee, and based on his conversations with them, future negotiations would be futilethat any meeting with Mr. Melton or his legal team would be unproductive, that members of the committee were steadfast and would not change their minds. And he told me I should go ahead and take the matter to court," Reeves told the Jackson Free Press.
The committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to bar the mayor from the primary on the basis that they did not believe he qualified as a Jackson resident. The committee agreed that tax records showing Melton filed his homestead exemption in Texas disqualified him as a resident.
Reeves said the homestead exemption argument is more of a guideline than a rule, and is not required to prove residency. His suit claims the mayor is "a bona fide adult resident citizen of the city of Jackson" who votes in Jackson and owns a home in Jackson, and pays various bills mailed to a Jackson address. He also argues that the committee should have included Melton in the Tuesday discussion if they were considering barring him.
Reeves also pointed out that the same committee had accepted Melton's residency requirements during the last election.
The committee did recognize Melton's residency in 2005but only after Melton misinformed the committee that he had filed for homestead exemption in Jackson, as reported then by the Jackson Free Press. Supporters of then-mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., approached the committee with proof of Melton's Texas exemption after it was too late for Melton to re-file for homestead exemption in Jackson. Melton's former attorney, Sarah O'Reilly-Evanswho is now the city attorneyinformed the committee at the time of the revelation that it was too late for the committee to act on the new information.
"You treat (this) as any court of law would when something is brought up outside the statute of limitationsyou dismiss it as not timely filed," O'Reilly-Evans said during the April 2005 committee meeting. "It is my understanding that there was a 10-day window for this committee or any other individual to come forward and deal with this issue at that time."
Then-Ward 7 Committee member David Blount was furious: "We asked every candidate the same question with the intention of preserving the viability of every candidate, and we were told by Mr. Melton that he'd filed homestead exemption in the city of Jackson, and we relied on that in certifying him, as we did every other candidate. That bothers me, because when we have folks come forward we rely on them telling the truth to the committee. If we rely on something that's not true, we can still not go back and deal with itis that what you're telling us?" he demanded of O'Reilly-Evans.
McInnis would not comment on the issue today, explaining that it was now a court matter. He'd said in 2005 that he had been in politics ever since he was 26 years old, and had learned that "in politics almost anything that can be said, will be said."
I am aware there are other ways to demonstrate residency beyond the homestead exemption. But how can we take Melton seriously? I know for a fact that Melton was not registered to vote in the 2005 election and it was documented that he had not voted in Jackson before that specific race. I am certain of this fact because I was standing behind him waiting to vote that morning. The poll workers informed Melton (and his bodyguards) that he was not listed as a registered voter. The workers also informed him he could vote by a paper ballot but he just laughed it off and walked out. I am not sure if he voted later that day or not. His motives for wanting to serve as Mayor has always seemed suspect to me. Melton professes to be so concern about Jackson, as often stated in his “And That’s the Bottom Line” quasi-sermons. Where are the accomplishments? For example, neither he nor the Chief/Sheriff (and that a joke as well) can claim to have cleaned up crime. Is his 1st term, Jackson’s version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” Well let me cry out loud, “BUT HE HAS NOTHING ON.” Jackson, let’s not be duped twice.
Ladd i know you dont like rumors on your site but can you or anyone give credence to this thing about bennie thompson being behind all this mess.
NewJack, I'm not real sure there is a way to give credence to that rumor. I'd guess that the committee members regret allowing him on last time, and don't want him to run as a Democrat this time. I suspect it's quite simple, with no conspiracy theory needed.
Evervone who bloggs here frequently knows that I have been on melton's case from the door and that I have tried to let people know that this man was a wolf in wolf clothing; however, this time around, melton can claim victim. The Democratic Executive Election Commission knew four years ago that melton did not homestead in Jackson. There are enough regulatory agencies to spread blame around to include the Department of Human Services. There was such a political push to oust Johnson that it just didn't matter who melton was or where he homestead. Now the ducks have come home to rouse and there is crap in everybody's yard. I am a Democrat and my advice to the Party is to leave melton the hell alone! We don't have the money to fight this unwinnable war and melton does not deserve to win a folk hero status that seems to be in the making. If you were going to take melton on, it should have been before he emaciated the city and its resources becuse there is absolutely no need to shut the gate when the cows are aready OUT. I don't care what anyone says about this issue, the folks who needed to know and could have made the difference, DIDN'T.