Mayor axes recreation nomination

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2001

Citing past race-related board actions, Mayor Bill Godbold hasvetoed a decision by the board of aldermen to appoint Bobby Harristo replace Les Bumgarner on the Brookhaven Parks Commission.

The veto came Wednesday, on the heels of the appointment made atTuesday’s board meeting.

Bumgarner, who is white, was recently elected alderman-at-largeand will be joining the board in July. The current board ofaldermen voted 4-2 to put former commission member Harris, who isblack, back on the recreation board.

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In a letter to aldermen, Godbold vetoed the appointment andrequested that another nomination be brought forward at the July 3meeting.

Commenting further on his decision, Godbold indicated the vetowas following previous aldermen actions to maintain racial makeupregarding personnel and appointment decisions. In those matters, hesaid aldermen had replaced black members with blacks and whitemembers with whites.

“It was doing what they had done to start with,” Godbold saidabout the intention of the veto.

Godbold said Harris would be a good representative on therecreation board. However, his appointment would run counter topast aldermen procedures.

“We’re just following their procedure,” the mayor said.

When contacted, Harris said he had no comment on the mayor’sveto. Harris served on the recreation board for 12 years beforebeing replaced several years ago by Robert Kenny.

“I enjoyed all 12 years,” Harris said, adding that he had noanimosity toward anyone with the city and hoped the recreationdepartment could continue to progress.

Currently, the parks commission has three white members,chairman Roland Wall, Graham Tempel and Bumgarner, and two blackmembers, Willie “Doc” Harrison and Kenny.

On Tuesday, when Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilsonnominated Harris, some other aldermen said they wanted to wait onthe appointment decision. Outgoing Alderman-at-large Henry Newmanseconded Wilson’s motion.

Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith made a motion to appoint BoyceBullock, who is white, to the parks commission. Smith’s motion wasseconded by Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allen.

The Harris motion carried 4-2 with Aldermen Wilson, Newman, JohnRoberts and Terry Bates supporting it while the Bullock motionfailed with only Smith and Allen voting for it. Ward 1 AldermanDorsey Cameron abstained from the votes.

When reached for comment today, Wilson said he was unaware ofthe mayor’s veto.

“We’ll just have to see what’s what on that,” Wilson said.

Speaking about the mayor’s veto reasons, Wilson said he didn’talways agree with previous board action regarding racial makeup ofappointees. He said he would have to speak to the mayor about thesituation.

“I just believe in the best person for the job. Color shouldn’tmatter,” Wilson said.