Natchez aldermen expected to appoint city attorney Tuesday

Published 12:03 am Monday, August 8, 2016

NATCHEZ — After more than a month with the position in question, the Natchez Board of Aldermen is expected to appoint a city attorney at its meeting Tuesday.

Following the rescission of the July 1 appointment of Everett Sanders as attorney, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and the aldermen interviewed Sanders, Robert “Bob” Latham, Christina Daughtery and Lisa Chandler July 29.

Most of the aldermen said Friday they have had time to review each candidate’s qualifications and are prepared to make a decision.

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Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier refused to comment on whether he had reviewed the candidates’ qualifications and felt prepared to make a decision. Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard could not be reached for comment.

The attorney interviews followed the board’s split decision at a meeting two days before to rescind its recent appointment of Sanders as city attorney.

Grennell broke a 3-3 tie at the meeting, voting for the motion to rescind made by Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Frazier and Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving voted against the motion. Those same aldermen voted for Sanders’ appointment July 1.

Smith, Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis and Dillard voted for the motion, and Grennell broke the tie. Smith and Dillard voted against Sanders’ appointment with votes for Latham, a former Adams County Board of Supervisors attorney, who was nominated by Smith.

Davis abstained from the July 1 vote, saying at the time he felt he lacked enough information about Sanders or Latham to make a sound decision.

Sanders was nominated by Arceneaux-Mathis, appointed and sworn in July 1, just a few hours after Grennell and the aldermen were sworn into office.

Grennell had publicly tapped Latham as his choice for city attorney and and has said Sanders appointment blindsided him.

Sanders’ appointment has been a point of contention for the board of aldermen since it was made and has been a cause of public outcry from members of the public on both sides of the issue.

Much of the criticism of Sanders’ appointment has been directed at the fact that Sanders was city attorney when the city lost a judgment after failing to respond to an ongoing lawsuit by the court appointed deadline.

In the lawsuit, Roundstone Development seeks $1.8 million in damages after the city denied its zoning application to allow construction of a housing development stretching from Old Washington Road to Oriole Terrace.

In 2011, Circuit Court Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson ruled in a default judgment against the city for breach of contract and misrepresentation. Resident Gail Guido filed an appeal of Sanders’ appointment as city attorney in Adams County Circuit Court on July 11, the day before the board of aldermen met in executive session for nearly two hours on the matter and delayed the start of its meeting before a standing-room only crowd.

The board voted at that meeting to seek an attorney general’s opinion on the matter. The attorney general’s office, however, cannot issue an opinion on an issue if there is pending litigation regarding it.

The board of aldermen is scheduled to meet in the City Council Chambers, with the finance meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the regular meeting at 11.