SELMA, AL (WSFA) - A lawsuit has been filed against Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and the Selma city council by Ronita Wade.
Wade, the city’s treasurer, is currently on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
The lawsuit was filed on Wade’s behalf in the circuit court for Dallas County by Attorney Julian McPhillps. The city council is named as a necessary party in the document. McPhillips says the council is viewed as a friendly party having reinstated her two of the three times she has been placed on leave.
McPhillps says they are asking a judge to order the mayor to reinstate Wade as treasurer to continue her official functions.
During citizen commenting time at the last council meeting, McPhillips addressed the council, asking that Wade be reinstated, Ms. Carneetie Ellison as Administrative Assistant for the Recreation Department, and three Selma police officers who were charged with making false statements related to a matter under investigation by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office. No action was taken by the council at that meeting.
In an email sent to every member of the council, McPhillips claims three Selma city employees whose positions were eliminated by the council, when they passed the budget for this fiscal year, are still being paid by the city.
McPhillips provided WSFA 12 News with the email and documents he sent to all Selma city council members Monday. He says these are illegal payments and need to be stopped immediately.
“I will probably expand the Ronita Wade case to include this as evidence," McPhillips said, "rather than a separate case altogether. The citizens of the city of Selma have got to get the guts and courage to stand up to the mayor that when the council votes to defend something they even voted to abolish one of these offices that means you can’t pay them any longer. That is why Ronita Wade is so important to be back in her job.”
WSFA 12 News did reach out to the mayor for comment on the claims made by McPhillips. The mayor had no comment and referred questions to his attorney, Kenneth Mendelsohn.
Mendelsohn told WSFA 12 News there are some legal concerns about the council’s power to eliminate positions appointed by the mayor and that’s why those employees are not off the books.
“Those were his appointments and there is a question of whether the council can defund positions. It is mine and the mayor’s position they can’t. The firing of these people, it would definitely result in litigation and that is what the mayor is trying to prevent,” Mendelsohn said.
Mendelsohn says they are waiting on a response regarding a lawsuit filed previously by the mayor against the city council over an effort to take away his appointment powers. The council voted to remove Melton’s ability to appoint the city’s police chief, fire chief, and tax collector.