Anarchy: Lumberton Style

I've been trying to process information I received last week. I attended the special called meeting and nothing was discussed; or so I thought. Prior to leaving the meeting, most of the information I gathered was conveyed by a garrulous little girl that seemingly had a lot of knowledge about city business/personal information and didn't mind sharing. Since she's a child, I didn't record her comments but I listened as she overshared while in a room full of adults. At first, I tried to ignore her but she got louder the longer we sat, waiting for the board members to exit executive session. After we sat there for over 45 minutes, the girl shifted from talking about her family to city business. Out of the blue she asked why are they in there so long, Mr. Dukes is not here and he's the one that wanted to go into executive session? I'm thinking to myself, how would she know who asked to go into executive session? About 30 minutes later, the board members returned to the board room and they reported that no actions were taken. When the board voted to go into executive session, I thought they were attempting to get rid of Chief Cowart or one of her officers since she was away at a conference and the mayor said they were going into executive session to discuss personnel issues. Well, later that night, I received a series of angry texts that indicated that personnel issues was not the subject of the lengthy executive session.

Shortly after getting home, I was still trying to process what happened at the board meeting. I looked down and my phone was lit up because I still had it on silent. I saw the message was from Margie McGraw, wife of Alderman Jay McGraw. I didn't understand the text but it seemed like she was angry and I found it interesting that she was contacting me after a board meeting. Based on our previous conversations, it meant Jay had come home venting about the board meeting. Margie continued to text me and I realized that the board had not discussed personnel issues during executive session. Based on my conversation with Margie McGraw, the board was discussing Jonathan Griffith and the Lumberton Informer during executive session which is a violation of the Mississippi Open Meetings Act. Last time I checked, I wasn't an employee of the City of Lumberton therefore me and my blog cannot be categorized as a personnel issue. There is a provision in tne Mississippi Open Meetings Act that allows discussion of litigation but here the gotcha, I'm not being sued by the City of Lumberton. I'm being sued by an employee of Lumberton. So, discussing me and my blog in executive session is not legal.

For an extended period of time, I communicated with M. McGraw and I deducted that not only was my blog posts being discussed, there was a claim made that I was also posting anonymously. Now, this wouldn't be the first time I was accused of making anonymous comments. As a matter of fact, there's been claims that I'm the only person reading the blog and making all comments. I find it interesting that people think I have that much time on my hands. When I blog, I don't have any problem saying what I want to say but for some reason, those mentioned in the blog think I need to hid how I feel since I'm so timid in how I address political issues. Sarcasm intended. I remember there were church members that claimed I posted an anonymous comment calling them bitches. If they knew me, they would know that's not a word I use and if I used that word, it wouldn't be spelled that way. I have a cousin, that's a Lumberton School Board member, who accused me of posting an anonymous comment about his lack of attendance at meetings but I've never attended a school board meeting. A few years ago, there was a comment allegedly posted by Stephanie Mullings and I was accused of making that post as well. When that comment was posted, I actually contacted Google to find out who posted the comment because the comment was using someone's name and it didn't seem like something she would say. I submitted a request to get the IP address so the comment could be traced and Google refused to give me the information, advised me to add a tracker to my blog and require readers to register so the comments could be traced. I tried making my blog private but that would limit me to 500 readers and even if the blog was private, it wouldn't stop people from sharing their login information so I decided against that option. Google infomed me that they would provide details only if the comments contained a threat against someone's life and that most comments are protected by the first amendment.

When Margie McGraw contacted me, she was saying that her name was mentioned in an anonymous comment; a comment I have yet to find. She also said that she stopped reading my blog and now she has to go through this book [of papers] It was that comment that led me to believe that my blog was not only being discussed but there were printouts. Am I the only one bothered by this? This board has three more months left in the 2015 budget year and claim, almost on a monthly basis, they don't know what's in the budget but there's time to spend city resources, use city equipment and paper/computers/printers that's paid for with city funds to monitor my blog. Instead of being upset that you were lied to and told that you were mentioned in an anonymous comment and get upset with the fact that city resources are being used in a personal legal matter. If Ben Winston and his cronies want to use city resources to discuss litigation that does not involve the City of Lumberton then they should add their names to the plaintiff's list and they can hold strategy meetings with their attorney but not on the city's time, using city resources and definitely not during executive session.

As the conversation between me and Margie McGraw continued, she apparently realized she disclosed too much information and said that Jay told her they discussed the budget in executive session. I knew that was a lie too because after the board reconvened, Winston wanted to skip the next agenda item, the budget, because it didn't make sense to disuss it until they receive audits from 2013 and 2014. Margie went on to say that I was being a diva, that I thought everything was about me and that I'm on the verge of being Chicken Little because I'm always claiming the sky is falling. For the record, everything I predicted has happened. There were a few missteps but that's because my access to public records has been restricted. Margie even offered to sell me her house at a goid price because she can't walk around Lumberton amy longer. I wonder what has changed? Before Winston was elected, Margie told me how her husband was being attacked by Winston supporters and how she wish she could paint her house the colors of Mardi Gras to offend the members of First Baptist. Two years later, Jay and Ben are bosom buddies and Margie is posting information from the aldermen packets to support claims made at board meetings. By the end of our conversation, Margie had invited me to send her a friend request so I can see her design work and I sent the request and it was accepted. However, the next day, when I went to see her Facebook page, I couldn't find it. I wonder what happened.

I didn't bother contacting my alderman, Quincy Rogers, to verify my suspicions. Instead, I decided to print out the texts and file an Ethics Complaint. I could run down a lie but thought to myself, why bother. I believed Margie McGraw and I know her intentions wasn't to reveal what was discussed in executive session but what's done is done. Laws are in placeefor a reason and this board can't cherry pick which laws they want to follow. That's like saying, I'll follow commandments 1,5, 7,8 and 10; that's not how it works. The reason why I didn't bother calling Quincy was the need for a paper trail. I filed the ethics complaint and I told them I want these three specific questions answered during their investigation of my complaint: Did you say you were going into executive srssion to discuss personnel issues? Is Jonathan Griffith an employee of the City of Lumberton? Was Jonathan Griffith and/or the Lumberton Informer discussed in executive session on June 16, 2015? Now, most of the board members claim to be Christians. One of the fundamental teachings of the bible is thou shalt mot lie. Proverbs 6: 16-19 reads, "There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue..." Proverbs 12:22 reads, "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight." Exodus 20:16 reads, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." I think you're getting the point. Since most board members claim to be Christians, it's hard to believe they would lie under oath when responding to specific questions about what happened on June 16, 2015 during executive session. One thing is certain, their responses will show us who they truly are and where they stand in their walk with God. Will they tell the truth or will they show us who they're serving? We shall see.


  1. Merlene need to sit down and stop wasting our tax dollars on her fight. Merlene was talked about long before this blog and most of the chatter was about her drug addicted son. Why you think she was so rude to Aaron Bourne? He was one of her son's dope buddies. If Merlene keep letting Ben Winston run her like a puppet she's going to keep getting pulled. Oh wait, she's getting something out of it too. Right now she and her family are living it up on a mini vacation paid for by Lumberton taxpayers. Hope your grand kids enjoy the pool at the MML conference. I'm sure you're in a lounge chair reading the blog on the free wi-fi.

  2. If the mouthy little girl you're describing is Merlene's granddaughter she needs to focus more on math and less on grown folks business.


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