Ward 4 Alderwoman Elizabeth Thomas said she believes a letter Mayor Diane Delaware sent her regarding alleged offensive comments during a business dinner was inappropriate.
During the Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting Monday Thomas said that she received a letter from Delaware on Feb. 28 regarding comments Delaware said Thomas made on Feb. 20 during a work session retreat in Greenwood.
Delaware’s letter read as follows”
“Dear Alderwoman Thomas,
I am writing this letter in regards to inappropriate comments made during dinner on February 20, 2020 with some individuals outside of our organization.
On last Thursday night, I told a story of how I found a snake in my room when I was traveling for business to which you made the statement, “the snake was there to mate with you.” Furthermore, when our meals began to arrive to the table, I complimented the gentleman with us on how he made a good choice when placing his order to which you replied, “I’m glad we’re sitting in a public place because if someone was listening somewhere else they would think you all was doing something else.” These statements are unprofessional, insulting and very concerning to me.
As leaders representing the City of Yazoo City, we must be conscientious and professional in our actions. I believe this issue needed to be brought to your attention because it not only caused an uncomfortable situation with your fellow stakeholders but with other individuals who work outside the City, including the gentleman’s wife. These are your choices. I felt it necessary to share my concerns.
Diane Delaware, Mayor
City of Yazoo City”
Thomas said the mayor should not have sent her a letter on city letterhead without getting the board’s permission.
“The first thing that entered my mind when I read this letter, was that it was a form of harassment, and I just wanted to know, did you really get permission from the board to write me this letter,” Thomas asked.
“No I did not, I did not think I had to get permission from the board to write a letter, I was writing a letter to you about something that occurred, and I wanted to share my perspective,” Delaware said. “I wrote it as the mayor. I was not harassing you or anything of that nature.”
Thomas said the mayor could have called her or shared her concerns personally rather than sending an official letter.
“The things that are on here I did not do,” Thomas said. “Each alderman received a copy. I just wanted to know why you felt that you needed to address me legally, like it was, like you was stacking a deck or something on me, like I'm a child being chastised?”
“I did not think any of those things,” Delaware said.
“Well if one was to read they would think that it was harassment – like, "Shut up Liz, you just sit there and keep your mouth shut,” Thomas responded. “That's the way I felt.”
Thomas then shared a letter she wrote in response.
Thomas’ letter read as follows:
“Dear Mayor Delaware,
I received your letter dated February 25th on February 28th.
After carefully reading your letter, I found it to be unfounded/untrue and unbecoming from you as Mayor of Yazoo City. You used your position as the Mayor for the city of Yazoo City by using official city stationary to harass me.
Since a person is innocent until proven guilty, you said I made these comments? During our next executive session, I am requesting anyone that has concerns and heard my unprofessional conduct, be made available to make a statement as to what they heard me say.
I did not make any inappropriate comments about NO snake; it was you who brought the snake story up. I would like to further discuss this letter and your conduct during our retreat, dinner and hotel in Greenwood, Mississippi at our next Executive Session.
Your letter to me seemed to be a part of your effort to harass me and tarnish my reputation. If this was not your intention, please advise. Seemingly your unprofessional conduct as mayor is to intimidate me.
Since I will not go along with you and your wrong doings, you chose to use city stationary in your official capacity to harass me as Alderwoman Ward 4 with an un-authorized letter from the City of Yazoo City.
I am looking forward to resolving this issue and the truth being told.
Elizabeth W. Thomas
Alderwoman Ward 4.”
Thomas later said she doesn’t have a personal problem with the mayor and wants to have a productive working relationship.
Delaware said she hopes there will be no more personal issues, but she intends to focus solely on city business regardless.