McLemore reprimanded

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FRANKLIN—The Franklin City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to reprimand Councilman Greg McLemore for comments he made to an employee of Virginia Auction and Collections Co. who was placing a boot on a vehicle belonging to a delinquent taxpayer.

Councilman Don Blythe cast the only dissenting vote on a motion made by Councilman Benny Burgess following an hour-long closed session. McLemore left council chambers before the vote.

“I think it should have been handled in a better way,” Blythe said. “There was a better way to do it.”

McLemore has been against allowing Virginia Auction to boot vehicles belonging to those delinquent on personal property and real estate taxes. The boot makes it impossible to move a vehicle, which is often towed and impounded until the taxes are paid.

McLemore said he questioned the legality of placing a boot on a vehicle on private property after a constituent called him to complain about a boot being placed on the vehicle of a Southampton County resident on Friday at Paul D. Camp Community College.

“I told him that I understood he was just doing his job, but I also told him that I thought this is the most extreme method possible and I did not vote for it,” McLemore said.

Mayor Jim Councill said McLemore used his status as a city councilman inappropriately. Councill said McLemore acted outside his authority as the matter pertained to a contracted service between Virginia Auction and Southampton County.

“It’s an embarrassment to the city and it could have legal implications for him and the city,” Councill said.

The matter was the subject of a heated closed session, McLemore said Tuesday. During the closed session, he was overheard saying, “I told them to kiss my black —.”

“I’m tired of them trying to control what I do,” McLemore said. “I was elected by the voters of my ward and I will continue to fight for the citizens.”

McLemore said he was “blindsided” by the council’s actions Monday and that the Virginia Auction issue kept him from being reappointed to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. Councilman Barry Cheatham was appointed to the board in his place.

McLemore said he only remains on the city’s Social Services Board.

“I am the only African-American male on the council, and I’m now only on one board,” McLemore said.

He said he doesn’t believe council members had the authority to reprimand him because he does not work for them.

“I think what they are doing is illegal,” McLemore said. “I work for the voters, and if they don’t like me, there’s a recourse.”