SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - Southaven residents are upset about new policy changes at board meetings. Before, if they wanted to speak at a meeting all they had to do was call ahead; even an e-mail to the city was fine. Now they have to sign up the day of the meeting.
Many believe it's another shady move by a shady mayor. But Mayor Greg Davis and Southaven Aldermen don't understand what all the fuss is about.
Aldermen and the mayor say it's designed to make the meetings fair. That's the one point they agree on. What they don't agree on is whether or not there's room for leeway.
As a Southaven resident and founder of Concerned Citizens, Linda Temple has two problems with Mayor Greg Davis changing the way residents sign up to talk at board meetings.
"This has infringed upon their rights majorly … Nobody got word of that policy change," she said. "We've got working people here in Southaven that are not able to get here before 6pm to sign up."
Temple worries certain residents won't get to speak their peace at the aldermen's meetings. Mayor Davis and Alderman Ronnie Hale both say the new policy isn't designed to cut anyone out.
"I don't see how it's not fair; if she's there she gets to speak. We're not trying to keep anyone out, we just want to make sure it's fair to every individual, not have someone call in and take a time slot and not show up, that's what is not fair - to give one person more time than another," Davis said.
Alderman Ronnie Hale added, "The only real problem is so many people signed up, then decided not to come; others take their time to speak."
But the two disagree on how strictly the change will be implemented.
Mayor Dais said speakers need to be there by 6 p.m., "that's the rule adopted by the board, anyone who signs up before 6 gets to speak."
But Hale's interpretation of the policy is a little less strict. He said, "If they don't get there until a few minutes until after meeting starts, I don't know of any reason why anyone would be prevented to speak."
Davis said this policy change was made two weeks ago, but residents learned about it over the weekend.
That means fireworks are expected Tuesday night; that's the first board meeting the new policy will be implemented.