Link Lost in 'Illegal' Limbo

The Mississippi Link is suing Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and City Council members who voted against a recent veto override. Last month, the council failed to override a veto from Frank Melton rejecting the council's decision to award printing for the city's legal ads to The Mississippi Link newspaper. Also named in the lawsuit with Melton are Ward 1 Councilman Ben Allen, Ward 5 Councilman Charles Tillman and Ward 4 Councilman Frank Bluntson.

Ward 2 Councilman Leslie McLemore joined Council President Marshand Crisler and Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett Simon in arguing against the mayor's veto, saying state law demands that the council go with the lowest bid, rather than the bidder with the largest circulation. Melton wanted the contract go to The Clarion-Ledger, saying that paper had more readers. The Clarion-Ledger distributes about 22,000 papers in Jackson, opposed to the Link's 4,000.

Mississippi Link attorney Dorsey Carson called Melton's veto "illegal," and said it was fueled by vindictiveness. "If folks around city hall were able to speak freely to the press without fear of retribution, they would tell you that Mayor Melton has not made it a secret that he vetoed the award for the reason that he does not like Socrates Garrett, the publisher of the Mississippi Link, who publicly supported his opponent in the mayoral election," he said.

Carson added that the city is also delaying the Link from having its day in court by not immediately filing the appeal with the circuit court, as state law requires.

"The Legislature made it clear that once an appeal is filed and signed by the City Council president, as was done in this case, the city clerk is required to file the appeal with the circuit court 'at once.' It has been over two weeks since we filed our appeal on behalf of the Mississippi Link. The city clerk has still not filed our appeal with the court, so the Mississippi Link was forced to file an extraordinary writ to the circuit court. It takes little imagination to believe that the mayor is behind the effort to block our appeal from reaching a circuit court judge," Carson said.

City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans did not return calls.


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