Midway, during a special meeting March 20, appointed Capt. Jerome Turner as interim police chief. Turner has been running the operations arm of the department since Chief Terron Lindsey was placed on administrative leave with pay earlier this year.
Lindsey was arrested in December 2012 after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement charged him with official misconduct and petit theft.
Lindsey is scheduled to be in court next month for case management. That’s when the judge determines if he is ready for trial. No trial date has been set but in the meantime, Councilman Jerrod Holton said the police department is without direction and a “point of contact” was needed for official purposes.
Since Lindsey was placed on leave, the operations of the department have been handled by Turner and administrative duties have been handled by Maj. Tom Murray.
Several members of the council criticized former manager Auburn Ford Jr. for placing Lindsey on administrative leave and leaving their hands tied.
“He took the council out of it when he placed him on administrative leave. He did that without the council’s input,” said Mayor Ella Barber.
The city’s charter permits the council to hire, fire or suspend the chief, but it can take no action when the manager places an employee on administrative leave.
In other matters:
• Councilperson Delores Madison questioned how the city would repay the $200,000 loan plus interest to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She said the city is already in the red, and another loan payment would be very difficult. Madison said she spoke with Mary Gavin, grant specialist with USDA, prior to the meeting and was informed that a resolution (passed by the council) was not on file with USDA. Action was tabled until the April 6 meeting.
• Leslie Steele, political consultant and supporter of Sam Stephens, who is opposing Councilman Chuck Willis, in the April election, asked the council to disqualify Willis from running in district 4 because he does not reside there. Steel offered proof of Willis’ residency by saying official documents have been delivered to Willis for his signature by city employees. She also showed photos to indicate the address Willis listed as a dwelling that is uninhabitable. The council took no action.
• Former City Manager Auburn Ford Jr. told the council all he wants is the money he claims he is owed, $29,000 in severance pay, and he and the city can move on. Councilman Holton said the council should pay Ford, but the council voted to take the matter up at a later date.