The meeting of the Ferriday Board of Alderman included one confrontation after another with Mayor Rydell Turner receiving much criticism from aldermen and citizens.
For an hour and 15 minutes, arguments erupted between aldermen and Mayor Rydell Turner, former police chief Herman Curry and Turner, Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd and a resident who lives on Doty Road, and Lloyd and Ferriday Police officer Robert “Rock” Davis.
At the start of the meeting, alderwoman Brandi Bacon wanted to add Curry’s resignation as police chief to the agenda.
Curry resigned last week, citing differences with Turner.
Bacon told Turner he could not fire Curry.
“I didn’t fire him, he resigned,” Turner said.
Lloyd voiced her opinion, saying the board should be the one accepting the resignation.
Turner then recognized Justin Conner in the audience as Lloyd was speaking.
“You can’t take Mr. Conner over me,” Lloyd said.
“This is not a show for the people,” Turner said to Lloyd.
“I know this is not a show,” Lloyd countered. “You cannot accept his resignation. The board has to accept his resignation. You did not hire him; it came before the board.”
Willie Trask, who lives on Doty Road, lambasted Turner and the board.
“There are a lot of things going on that are not helpful to the town,” Trask said. “I feel like you are people pleasing, listening to some of the older hands when you are supposed to be in authority. Everybody loves talking, nobody is doing any walking.
“We need to get rid of the old and get new people in here. Some of you people on the board should not even be up there. They are working against you. But you turn a blind eye to some of the stuff that is happening in other cities.
“Police officers are jumping out of their cars with guns already pointed at people. That’s what they did to a young man and his family on Fifth Street. Have they been held accountable? Have you done one thing, Mayor, to assure us that our police officers are being trained?
“We have bully officers and officers who don’t know what they are doing. We need some change here and we expect Mayor Turner to make changes. You deserve respect.”
But Trask also added she has not been able to reach Turner.
“I’ve been calling for you and not having my calls returned,” she said. “Things need to be done. We are opening up nothing. We’ve got Arabs moving up, taking over and getting rich over us.”
Alderwoman Gail Pryor commended Trask for speaking her mind, but said she should have discussed her concerns with Turner.
“But I think you are speaking on behalf of what so many people are thinking,” Pryor added.
Turner told Trask he now has an open door policy on Wednesdays and that she can come to his office and talk to him one-on-one.
“We have a lot of issues here and we will address them,” he said.
After a discussion on sanitation, Lloyd asked a question about garbage pick-up.
Trask then spoke up from the audience.
“You need to stop whining,” Mrs. Lloyd. “You don’t allow the mayor to speak on anything.”
“Do not tell me to be quiet because I have the right to speak,” Lloyd said.
Ferriday police officer Robert “Rock” Davis then walked toward Trask to escort her out of the building.
“Do not touch me, Robert,” Trask said. “There is so much going on that is not right. Mrs. Lloyd you are old and need to go ahead and retire.”
Trask then left the building.
“I promise you I’m not going to have anybody come in here and disrespect me,” Lloyd said. “I will shut this meeting down. I have a right to my opinion just like she does and she is not even a citizen of Ferriday. I will have an investigator in here so fast it will make your head spin. And we have not stopped the mayor from doing anything. ‘Rock’ should have arrested her.
“I will go up to the sheriff’s office and post charges myself on her. I am old. But the only way you don’t get old is to die young. Just because you are big and black don’t mean nothing to me. I’m not going to have this. She should not have been allowed to come up here and speak. She would not have been able to do that anywhere else. I don’t give a flip who they are. And for her to tell ‘Rock’ not to put his hands on her and he not do anything? That’s a sorry police officer.”
Bacon then offered a motion not to accept Curry’s resignation. Lloyd seconded and Pryor and Keys voted to not accept the resignation.
Elijah “Stepper” Banks was absent.
Turner asked Curry, who was in attendance in civilian clothes, to tell the board why he resigned.
“There was a difference of opinion between the mayor and myself that began to interfere with my effectiveness in managing the department,” Curry said. “There were differences on numerous occasions, issues within the department that I felt I had misconduct reports and an officer being insubordinate and falsifying reports, falling to report incidents and the list goes on and on. We just had a misunderstanding on what my role was and what your role was. As police chief it is my prerogative to deploy the assignments of officer and you took one of my officers away from night shift to one of the schools.”
“I didn’t do that,” Turner said.
“Yes, you did sir,” Curry said.“I wanted to fire him for being insubordinate.”
“Every man needs a job,” Turner said. "I wanted him in the school system where kids need protection. You had a problem with him the whole time.”
“I have fire-able offenses against him,” Turner said.
Alderman Andre Keys interjected that the officer’s name, which was stated, cannot be said in a public meeting.
“I’m just trying to show you why I accepted his resignation,” Curry said.
“There are 50 kids at that school and everyone one of them is important,” Turner said. “What if something happens to one of them because you have an ego?”
“We have never had an issue at that school,” Curry said. “If I took him off the night shift it would mean we would have no one on the night shift. I came here to provide a service to this community. I wanted to fire him and if you read the reports you will see why. He is not certified and refused to go to get training. I have no animosity against anyone, but we allow petty differences to interfere with our jobs.
“I appreciate you guys, I just wanted to do what you voted me in to do. Every shooting we’ve had we identified the shooter and made an arrest. We have been actively involved in the community. Before I arrived you could not get reports and the people had no confidence in the department. They were calling the sheriff’s office. Now they call the police department.”
Curry told Turner he was impeding the police department’s progress.
“How many times did I come up to the police department,?” Turner asked.
“I know you came once to fire me in front of everyone,” Curry said.
“You told me you were getting tired and your body was tired,” Turner said.
“No, I didn’t,” Curry responded.
“Then why did you put your (resignation) papers on my desk,” Turner asked.
“Because you disrespected me,” Curry said. “I still respect you.”
“I can say the same about you,” Turner said.
Davis, who entered the building after escorting Trask out, then asked to speak.
“Since I have been in this business I have never been disrespected by anyone in this parish,” Davis said. “I have never talked about anyone in a public meeting. And I do not appreciate what was said when I went out that door. I respect everybody at all times. I’ve done things in this town for certain people only God and myself know about. For a person to downgrade me at a meeting is unreal. I did not make that lady sit down simply because I didn’t give her the right to speak, you all did that.”
“We didn’t give her the right to speak,” Lloyd said.
“Mrs. Lloyd, I have never disrespected you one day on this earth,” Davis said. “When you were at Kay’s I made sure you got home safe.”
“We’re not talking about Kay’s,” Lloyd said. “Do you think it was fair for her to disrespect me.”
“I don’t think it was fair what you said about me,” Davis said.
“I’m not too big to apologize for what I said, but I still say you should have arrested her,” Lloyd said
“It doesn’t work that way,” Davis said. “That’s why everybody needs to go to the academy to learn the law.”
“The board is the legislator of this town,” Lloyd said. “I don’t care who likes it or who doesn’t like it. The people voted for me. And if I decide to run again I’m going to win again. I still say she should have been arrested.”
Town Clerk Sharon Kelly read a letter from Keys.
in which Keys asked for public records of payment of all repairs to the Ferriday Seventh Grade gym, personnel documents, job reviews, job descriptions, bank statements and other personal matters.
“I just want a public understanding of this town and our financial situation,” Keys said.
Turner then asked Bacon and Keys what they have done for the town.
“I’ve been talking with restaurants such as Taco Bell, Whataburger and Southern Classic Chicken to come here,” Keys said. “Mr. Graham has been talking about wanting to get rid of his property (near Cocodrie Bayou) That would be ideal.”
Bacon said she has been cleaning up limbs in her district.
“I have done a lot in my district,” Bacon said. “Why don’t you come behind me. What have you done for your town? If you want to come for me I’m coming for you.”
“We need to all work together,” Turner said. “That’s the only way we will have progress.”
On other matters, Turner said yellow ribbons will be put on streetlights not working in town so Entergy can identify them.
The board discussed proposals for waste management for the town after Wastepro’s contract expired.
Wastepro and Wolf Disposal of St. Joseph were the only two who presented bids.
“These are the only two bids we received and the law says you have to have three,” Keys said.
Turner said the town in continuing to pick up limbs and clean debris left from winter storms, but that both mowers are down
“Curtis Nelson has picked up some with his truck, but has to wait for rain to subside,” Turner said. “As soon as weather permits he will be back out there. The Department of Environmental Quality has said we can burn limbs at our dump site.”
Turner said town workers have almost completed their first run across the town.
“The problem is right after they pick up limbs and trash, people put more right back there,” he said.
Turner said Governor John Bel Edwards inform the mayor that the Edwards will look into getting funding for the June Zydeco Festival and parade.
“I also talked with Leslie (Durham with Delta Regional Authority) about getting a grant fort a walking trail in the park area,” Turner said.
The board agreed to send a letter to town planner Oliver Schultz about possible annexation.
“Since we are re-zoning, I would like to see us bring in Foxfire Apartments, the hospital (Trinity Medical) and both sides of the highway up to the hospital,” Keys said. “I want to see us go from a town to a city.”