Cordele commissioners postpone meeting in Wiggins’ absence

Published 4:38 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

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This past Tuesday’s meeting of the Cordele Board of Commissioners was over before it ever really began.

Commission Chairman John Wiggins was forced to be absent to attend to personal matters, and questions were raised over who should preside in his absence.

Commissioner Jeannie Bartee was elected vice-chair by the full commission in the first meeting of January 2018, but Commissioner Royce Reeves argued that Bartee’s term as vice-chair expired on Dec. 31, 2018, and that the commission should have chosen a new vice-chair at the first meeting of January 2019.

“We can’t just make things up as we go along,” Reeves said during the meeting.

Afterwards, Reeves said, “We’ve done this [chosen a new vice-chair in January] every year for as long as I can remember – every year since I’ve been on the commission.”

The commissioners held an impromptu vote to not hold a meeting without Wiggins present until the vice-chairmanship matter could be resolved. The measure passed 2-1, with Reeves and Commissioner Vesta Beal Shepherd voting to postpone the meeting and Commissioner Wesley Rainey voting against postponing the meeting.

Bartee attempted to vote against postponing the meeting, which would have resulted in a presumably unresolvable tie, but Reeves argued that, since Bartee was presiding over the vote, she should not have a vote herself unless she must break a tie.

At that point, Bartee tapped the gavel once and said, “Meeting adjourned.”

The Dispatch phoned Bartee and City Attorney Tom Cotton on Thursday afternoon for clarification of the commission vice-chairmanship but had not received a response as of presstime on Friday.