Two of the Mayor's new appointments, City Attorney and Police Chief, read like a Hail Mary accompanied by two middle fingers, and they have many prominent citizens of this community and top Dupree supporters in the white community horrified at his announced intentions. Flak is flying in all directions, and people are putting great pressure on the city council to prevent a major power grab by the mayor and his friend, televangelist Kenny Fairley.
Sources tell the Hattiesburg Patriot that Frazier Bolton’s tenure as police chief may be cut short, and that a rift about vacation time between the Mayor and Chief recently occurred. Regardless, the Chief may be forced out by the mayor’s own action, or by a judge ruling in favor of Councilmen Bradley and Carroll in their latest legal action suing the mayor to perform his duty and make department head appointments. Bolton’s days are clearly numbered, unless a deal is struck with at least three council members to keep him on.
What’s particularly interesting is that Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden was not a plaintiff in the recent lawsuit against the mayor, and sources have told the Hattiesburg Patriot that in recent days, Dryden has had an extended conversation with Mayor Dupree involving his appointments. These decisions have some asking, is this a political opportunity for Dryden to bring Groundworx back to the table with the Mayor? Will she support the current Chief? They are questions worth asking. What is known is that a meeting occurred between Dryden and the Mayor, and shortly after than meeting these appointments were put forward. (Read more about Dryden’s family connections with Groundworx here).
Councilmen Kim Bradley and Carter Carroll’s most recent lawsuit over Dupree’s failure to bring all department heads up for a vote “within a reasonable period of time,” as required by Mississippi Statute, is almost identical to the action filed in 2005 by councilmen Red Bailey, Carter Carroll, and Kim Bradley. Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich’s ruled in favor of the three councilmen back in 2006, and that ruling was unanimously upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court after 16 months of litigation and the appeal process.
Since the 2013 special election, Dupree has had 15 months to put appointments up for a vote. Dupree’s odds of prevailing in the current scenario, up to now, were next to nothing. Now, with every position having been brought forward for appointment, Dupree has a new defense in his case.
The key positions in question are currently held by Police Chief Frazier Bolton, City Attorney Charles Lawrence, Pro Tem Municipal Judge Carol Jones Russell, and Public Defender Alethea Shaw. Interestingly the person being put up for police chief is none other than Fairley’s brother in law, Mitchell Dent.
Dent has a long standing career in law enforcement; however it isn't without questions or concerns. Dent was demoted in 2001 when Lawrence Leyens was elected Mayor. Dent left VPD in 2002 and worked in the private sector for approximately 10 years. Dent was hired back on at the Vicksburg Police Department from 2010 to 2013 by Mayor Paul Winfield after Winfield won the election against two term incumbent Mayor Laurence Leyens in 2009. Winfield is now one year into a two year prison sentence for accepting a $10,000 bribe while acting as Mayor. It is not clear if Winfield has written a letter of recommendation letter from prison for Dent.
Another appointee is “CJ” Lawrence for City Attorney. Mr. Lawrence is a Jackson attorney and the son of current City Attorney Charles Lawrence. Lawrence is a self described "public figure" and "activist." Lawrence went to Ferguson, Missouri to protest in the "Hands Up" campaign. Lawrence has referred to black America as "second class citizens." His actions and style mimic the Reverend Al Sharpton, but seem to condone violence in the process, as was seen in Ferguson. Lawrence said,
"Well now it's time to rock the boat again, while resistance in the form of rioting and looting may not be your cup of tea, understand that for some, their passion and energy is all they can give for change."
Lawrence's father, the current City Attorney Charles Lawrence, cannot get council support for reappointment, That stems from his role in ordering a criminal federal background check against Arthur Smith, an African-American witness set to testify against Dupree in the Ware vs Dupree trial. Smith never testified, and when the matter became public, Lawrence went on camera and made statements which Smith alleged were defamatory. Smith has sued Mr. Lawrence for defamation among other allegations. Lawrence’s use of federal, criminal resources in this manner was a clear violation of Mr. Smith’s rights and an abuse of the FBI’s NCIC system. You can read that story by clicking here.
City Attorney Lawrence was also accused by council of "white washing" facts and crimes in a report he prepared for the city council over corruption within the City's Municipal Court. More can be read on that matter by clicking here. At that time, the court was under the control of Police Chief Frazier Bolton. The court is now run by full time judge, Gerry Evans.
A third appointee is the widow of Dupree trial attorney Precious Martin. Mrs. Crystal Wise Martin is up for Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem. a Pro Tem judge sits on the bench when Judge Gerry Evans recuses himself from hearing a case or is unable to hear a case. A Pro Tem Judge is an "as needed judge." While Martin lives in the Jackson area, she could perform her duties by commuting. It is speculated that Dupree is trying to help the wife of an old friend gain health insurance, benefits, and earn state and city retirement pensions. Since the death of her husband Martin has sued the mistress of her husband for alienation of affection when it was discovered that Precious Martin left his mistress $500,000. Read more about that by clicking here.
If approved Martin would replace Judge Carol Jones Russell. Russell was reported on this site and WDAM for having two homesteads, having her cars tagged in Stone County, residing in Stone County, and voting in Hattiesburg last election. More on that can be read by clicking here.
A concern expressed by others is that if actions on these appointments are tabled as opposed to being voted down, the mayor may appointment Mitchell Dent and/or CJ Lawrence as temporary replacements, if Chief Bolton and/or Charles Lawrence step down. The Mayor could then delay putting the temporary appointees up for council approval for as long as 16 months.
With evidence of FBI and State Auditor investigations swirling around the Hub City, and guilty pleas of illegal voting among appointed members of the administration, political tensions are high, yet Dupree's Machiavellian-style leadership is still alive and well.
**The Hattiesburg Patriot encourages all citizens to email their councilperson and express their support or non support for Mayor Dupree's latest appointments.
Mary Dryden Ward 4 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Bradley Ward 1- email@example.com
Carter Carroll Ward 3 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Delgado Ward 5 - email@example.com
Henry Naylor Ward 2 - firstname.lastname@example.org