Milton Council members attempt to remove city attorney, city manager

The Milton City Council votes Feb. 13 whether to replace Heather Lindsay as city attorney and fire the city manager, Brian Watkins. [AARON LITTLE | Press Gazette]

MILTON — Milton Council members attempted to fire both city attorney Heather Lindsay and city manager Brian Watkins during the Feb. 13 city council meeting.

During the meeting, Council voted to put out a request for quotation for new legal representation but to retain Watkins.

During the Council Reports, Councilman Jeff Snow moved to cancel the city’s contract with Lindsay and Lindsay. Councilwoman Peggi Smith seconded.

"I’ve lost confidence in her representing me," Snow said.

Jimmy asked for specific reasons Snow wanted new legal representation for the city.

"I’m not going to get into that," Snow said. He later added explanation.

"It’s over a year I’ve been sitting here," he said. "I’ve seen certain council members get treated totally different than other council members."

Watkins suggested waiting on cancelling Linday’s contract until the city receives bids on new legal representation.

"There will be considerable time to put out an RFQ and have no legal representation at all," Watkins said.

Mayor Wesley Meiss agreed with Watkins.

"With all due respect to Mr. Snow’s motion," Meiss said, "I don’t want to leave the city naked. Things happen every day in the business of the city."

The motion for the city to put out and RFQ for new representation and retain Lindsay and Lindsay in the meantime passed with a single nay vote from Snow.

Councilwoman Sharon Holley motioned to keep Lindsay and Lindsay without going out for RFQ. Councilwoman Pat Lunsford seconded.

The motion failed with Councilwomen Heather Hathaway and Smith and Lowery, Snow and Councilman Casey Powell voting nay.

Immediately following this vote, Smith motioned to remove Watkins.

Al Brewton asked Smith for reasons for her motion. Smith said the Committee of the Whole meetings get their information too late. He and City Planner Randy Jorgenson push expensive projects. She later said she has wanted to remove employees and Watkins refused so her only course of action would be to remove Watkins.

"I have no problem with him as an officer and a gentleman," Smith said. "I have a problem getting information a teaspoon at a time."

Brewton said these issues need to come up before committee and the council is already trying to be in charage of hiring and firing employees, referring to a proposal by Councilwoman Heather Hathaway.

Hathaway corrected Brewton saying her proposal refers only to hiring and firing contract employees.

Brewton asked Hathaway how she felt about trying to fire Watkins.

"I have no comment on that," Hathaway said.

During the discussion, Meiss said he talked to Watkins about the situation previously.

"When this happened a year ago," Meiss said, "he said…’If Council wants to let me go, let me go."

Meiss supports Watkins, he said, and would recommend him for any position for which he applies. However, he said he would side with Council members who felt strongly enough to call for Watkins’ resignation if the vote split.

Smith tried to rescind her vote but after encouragement from the audience she called for a vote on the motion.

The vote failed with Hathaway, Lowery and Snow voting to remove Watkins and Councilwomen Pat Lunsford, Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson, Councilwoman Sharon Holley, Councilman Casey Powell and Councilwoman Peggi Smith voting against.