Alderwoman Elizabeth Thomas said she believes she was purposely muted in a telephone conference during the recent city council meeting following a heated discussion over car tags.
“I kept asking, ‘can you hear me,’” Thomas said. “I realized something had happened. Somehow, I had been silenced.”
The issue first began earlier in the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting concerning the approval to purchase two tags for two city-owned Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles in the total amount of $3,322. Thomas said the personal tags were to be placed on the vehicles driven by Mayor Diane Delaware and Police Chief Ron Sampson.
Thomas said she questioned whether the tags are regular tags or tax-exempt tags, which would have cost the city a total of $32 instead. Delaware said the tags were regular ones.
“We do it for police vehicles often,” Delaware said. “This is done regularly and routinely in law enforcement across the country.”
Thomas said she was concerned over the price of the regular vehicles. She said she was also curious as to why it was being revisited since two tax-exempt tags were purchased in March for a total of $32.
“Why would the citizens of Yazoo City be paying $1,624 for Unit 22 and $16,697 for Unit 23, totaling $3,322 to be spent on car tags,” Thomas asked. “The board was told they were used as undercover vehicles. I stated to the board that these vehicles have no writing on them, showing they belong to the city of Yazoo City, and we should be using tax-exempt tags.”
Thomas said she also had an issue with Sampson having a regular tag on his vehicle.
“When Chief Sampson leaves Yazoo City everyday going to Jackson, where he lives, we don’t have a clue of where his vehicle is going,” she said. “We don’t have a clue as to where is he going. He could be going to Memphis, Atlanta, Dallas or anywhere else every weekend. There is nothing that states this vehicle does not belong to him personally. So, how is the mayor’s or chief’s vehicle being used as undercover?”
Thomas asked whether the vehicles had tracking devices or ways to check on mileage, questioning specifically what miles were on Delaware and Sampson’s vehicles. Delaware said she was unsure about Sampson’s vehicle, but she said her vehicle has 735 miles.
“All vehicles owned by the city of Yazoo City, the mileage is tracked on all of them,” Delaware said.
The motion to purchase the two regular tags was denied on a 3-2 vote with Thomas and Aldermen Johnathan Rucker and Ron Johnson in opposition of the purchase.
“Maybe this $3,000 can be used to fix our streets,” Thomas said.
Thomas said after the city council returned to open session from executive session, Delaware made a motion to amend the vote on the purchasing of the two regular tags.
“I asked, ‘why are we allowed to revote on this item today,” Thomas said. “Wouldn’t it have to come back to the board during our next meeting.”
After Delaware’s motion when a voice vote was conducted over the telephone, Thomas said her line was muted.
“I called from my personal phone, asking the mayor why my voice was muted,” Thomas said. “The mayor stated that she had not done anything. She refused to let me vote and told the clerk to move forward.”
Thomas said Rucker then made the motion to allow Thomas to vote.
“Let the record reflect I was on the phone,” Thomas said. “However, after I questioned if we could revote on the tags during this meeting, my phone went mute.”
The motion to purchase the two tags failed for the second time on a 3-2 vote with Thomas, Rucker and Johnson in opposition again.