McGlothin under fire in Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – A petition is now being circulated in Ferriday to recall Glen McGlothin as the town’s mayor.

James Skipper – chairman of a committee circulating the petition – charged McGlothin has shown partiality to white citizens, failed to bring in new industries and address the problem of stray dogs, and cost the town thousands of dollars in grant money.

&uot;There’s nothing going on on the south end of town that is progressive,&uot; Skipper said. &uot;McGlothin said when he was elected that he would listen to everybody. He’s listening to the north end of town, but not to the south end of town.&uot;

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But McGlothin denied the charges, saying police do not engage in racial profiling, and that water customers are charged the same rates regardless of race.

&uot;The bottom line is that Gene Allen doesn’t like Glen McGlothin. … And Gene Allen wants a job,&uot; McGlothin said. &uot;They’re just trying to muddy the waters. … But I&160;was elected by the majority of the people, and I’ll be here until the majority of people elect me out.&uot;

Allen did not say Tuesday whether he would qualify to run for mayor of Ferriday if McGlothin is recalled. &uot;Anyone who gets the majority of votes can be up there and I&160;don’t mind – as long as it’s not Glen McGlothin,&uot; Allen said.

Allen qualified to run for mayor of Ferriday in 2000, but a judge ruled in February of that year that Allen could not run because he had not lived in Ferriday at least one year. Skipper said there are several reasons he and other black citizens of Ferr-iday believe McGlothin should be recalled – and in a separate interview, McGlothin rebutted each charge, including the following:

4The town failed to notify Ferriday citizens in a timely manner that coliform bacteria had been found in June in samples of the town’s water, Skipper said.

The town published the notice twice in a newspaper and then handed out written notices to citizens. Skipper said the notice was too small and was placed in the legal section of the newspaper, where many people didn’t notice it.

McGlothin said the town printed a notice of those findings in the local newspaper at the first opportunity – just five days after the town was notified of the findings by the State Office of Public Health.

&uot;That was as soon as we could get the word out. The question you should ask is, why didn’t the state notify us sooner?,&uot; McGlothin said. Subsequent water samples showed no bacteria, health officials said.

4The town has done nothing to address the problem of stray dogs, Skipper said. &uot;A girl got run into the street by some dogs the other day and got hit (by a car),&uot;&160;Skipper said. &uot;Because of that, she’ll be paralyzed for life.&uot;

McGlothin pointed out that two town councilmen are on a parishwide committee to establish a shelter for such animals. &uot;We tried to get a dogcatcher once before, but we almost got sued for picking up someone’s dog,&uot;&160;he said.

4Ferriday Housing Authority Director Charles Bell was hired in 1992 – during McGlothin’s first terms as mayor, 1988 to 1996. So the mayor should make a statement regarding allegations that Bell misspent $218,169 in public funds, Skipper said.

But McGlothin said that Bell was hired by the Housing Authority’s board, not by him. &uot;The mayor has no authority over that – the board makes those decisions,&uot;&160;McGlothin said. &uot;And it will be up to the courts to decide whether (Bell) is guilty or not.&uot;

4Skipper charged that water customers in the north end of town – mostly white customers – are often charged &uot;flat rates&uot; that are lower than those of residents on the south end of town.

But McGlothin said that all customers are charged based on the same rate scale. That is a scale that the Farmers Home Administration ordered the town to adopt, he said.

4No industries have been recruited to town since McGlothin took office in July 2000 and none are on the horizon, Skipper said.

But McGlothin said town officials are working to recruit industries, and said no industries were recruited in the previous mayor’s term, either.

4Skipper charged that the police department engages in racial profiling, arresting black citizens far more than white ones. Come to the south end of town, especially on weekends, &uot;and you’ll see the police harassing people,&uot; he said.

McGlothin disputed the charges, saying that those with such complaints should meet with him. In addition, Police Chief Bobby Sheppard said officers have already gone through training designed to combat racial profiling.

4Skipper also said the town lost its chance to apply for a substantial water system improvement grant because the town did not make a contractor finish a sewer project in time.

&uot;That is the fault of the contractor,&uot; McGlothin said. &uot;And we’ve checked with the state, and we are going to submit an application for that grant – so no, we haven’t lost the grant.&uot;

In addition, Skipper said the mayor does not visit the south end of town to hear residents’ concerns – but McGlothin said he has visited several times in recent weeks to address different concerns.

Also on Tuesday, McGlothin stated that a woman who works for his relatives signed the recall petition but was told it was in support of McGlothin, not to recall him.

&uot;They said it was a recall, but I didn’t know what that was,&uot; said the woman, Delores Holmes. A petition worker &uot;just said to sign the paper. He said he was working for Glen.&uot;

But Skipper said those who signed the petition were told it was a recall petition and knew what they were signing, since the forms are marked as recall petition forms.

Gaynel Hawkins, a woman who said she was with Allen at the time that Holmes signed the recall petition, said Allen &uot;said it was a petition … to get rid of Glen McGlothin.&uot;