Written by: Jennifer Oravet - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email
UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) - It has been more than one week since a payroll dispute put Union Springs' police department and the mayor publicly at odds, and in that week things are no better. In fact, things have gotten progressively worse.
Now, business owners say the turmoil is bad for their bottom line, tarnishing the city's gentile image.
While a trip to town may give the impression of a "Chamber of Commerce Day" the little Bullock County town's chamber says they promote the image with a disclaimer. "They're going to love the community," says chamber member and developer Joyce Perrin. "It's quiet. It's a beautiful little community..."
Perrin says while the people are certainly wonderful, "We have some local politics, and some local mannerisms that sometimes are 20 to 50 years behind."
Union Springs is an easy sell, according to Perrin, but it's hard to compete with negative publicity involving the mayor and the police force. The city's 'old south' charm and character are better known now by another character, headline-stealing drama at City Hall. A recent meeting among the city council, mayor and police officers also ended on a very heated note.
Perrin says some residents are organizing their own fight in court to bring in new leadership to their town. It was news that a confident Mayor John McGowan laughed off. "That's ridiculous. I have no reaction to that," he said. "It doesn't even phase me." The mayor thinks the group is too small to make any changes, adding that kind of action comes with the office.
Trouble looms, however. The candidate for Director of the Department of Safety, which would help restructure the police department, resigned this week. Mayor McGowan suspects it has to do with the feud between his office and the police department.
The next meeting between the mayor the police department will be Monday, September 14. That meeting is for a disciplinary hearing regarding the officer who was relieved of his duties during last Friday's payroll dispute.