The Situation at City Hall Ward 4 Commissioner Rainey weighs in

Published 8:48 am Friday, February 25, 2022


By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

As more controversy arises regarding Joshua Deriso, the newly elected Chairman of the Cordele City Commission, others are weighing in. Ward 4 Commissioner Wesley Rainey wanted to share his thoughts about the situation at City Hall.

“January 11 appears to be the incident that brought everything to a head, referring to the resignation of Police Chief Mike Hathaway,” he said. “I was contacted by the police chief because he was uncertain about some requests Chairman Deriso had made regarding personnel and financial records. He told me that Deriso was requesting them in his capacity as the interim city manager. I told him “Whoa, he can’t do that. It’s illegal.”

“Under the Occidental Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 36-30-4 a councilman or alderman of a municipal corporation shall be ineligible to hold any other municipal office during the term of office for which the councilman or alderman was chosen unless he first resigns as councilman or alderman before entering such other office,” Rainey said. “This code section shall apply to all elected officials of a municipal corporation.

“And section 2.15 of the so-called “new” city charter stipulates that “following the adoption of an authorizing resolution, the city commission — not a single commissioner — the entire commission — may make inquiries or conduct investigations into the affairs of the city.”

“It is illegal for someone to be chairman as well as city manager so I told him he needed to either contact Steve Fulford, the interim city manager; the new city manager, Angela Redding, who was to start her job the next day or if neither of them were available for him to file an open records request.

“All of this was to cover the city because Joshua was new and he will not listen to nobody at all or take advice from anybody. He is a very headstrong individual who thinks he is always right.

“He called me later on that day and said I was undermining him. I told him I wasn’t undermining him. And I….and he disconnected the phone.

“He manipulates the city charter to get it to say whatever he wants it to say. That’s one reason he was so eager to get rid of Roland McCarthy. Roland kept trying to reel him in and Josh didn’t like that. He thinks he can do whatever he wants and no one can reel him in.

“The City Commission is just one small piece of what makes Cordele grow. It takes an army to carry us forward. You’ve got the city commission, the county commission, the Downtown Development Authority, Main Street, first responders, the school system — every part of it is necessary to make it grow.

“Joshua needs to learn that the city charter applies to the entire commission, not just one commissioner,” Rainey said.




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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.