After an hour-long discussion on reappointing department heads, the city council did not reappoint Ron Sampson to his post as police chief.
Veteran officer Jay Winstead has been appointed interim chief.
All other city department heads were reappointed during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Monday afternoon. But Sampson was the only one not reappointed.
The board was divided on the issue with a 3-2 vote. Mayor Diane Delaware and Alderman Ron Johnson voted to allow Sampson to continue serving.
The council's actions on reappointing department heads took over an hour to address during its open meeting. Seven positions were placed on the board agenda for reappointment including the board attorney, the public works director, the police and fire chiefs, the city clerk, the building inspector and the cemetery sexton up to the second Monday of April 2021.
However, Delaware made the motion to table the reappointments, which failed with the majority of the board wishing to proceed during Monday's meeting.
There was debate on whether the posts should be reappointed for one year or for four years. Delaware said her desire to table the reappointments was based on the city ordinance, which she said states that reappointments occur every four years, not annually.
But some aldermen said that has not been the case in the past.
"Why are we trying to do it for four years now when we have done it every year in the past," asked Ward 3 Alderman Sir Jonathan Rucker. "Why are we doing this now? Last year when we did it, I was the one who brought up the ordinance and whether we had to vote every year. These things were in place last year and the year before that."
"Amen," added Ward 4 Alderwoman Elizabeth Thomas.
Delaware replied that she only wishes to follow the city ordinance.
"There are no ulterior motives," she added.
Lilli Evans-Bass, board attorney, said the state law and city ordinance states that the only annual reappointment is for the board attorney post. She said the department heads are slated for reappointment every four years.
"Why have we been doing it annually," asked Alderman Ron Johnson. "Have we been doing it wrong?"
"We didn't read the ordinance," Delaware replied. "I can say for sure that we haven't done it every year."
Thomas said the copy of the city ordinance she has does not state reappointments occur every four years but annually. She expressed concern over conflicting ordinance copies circulating among the city council. Thomas said she asked for the reappointments to be brought before the board, but she said she never asked that time frames be included in the request.
"You always ask us to put things on the agenda before we get here, but when we do, you sideswipe us," Thomas said, to Delaware.
"This is not a choice I'm making," Delaware replied. "The board has to vote. I have disagreed with this every year, but if there is conflicting information in our ordinances then we need to know."
After the lengthy discussion, the reappointments remained on the agenda with each post's term listed for one year.