News 12 11pm / Friday, May 30, 2014
WASHINGTON, Ga. (WRDW) -- News 12 had the only camera rolling when a heated city council meeting boils over. Some council members believe a special called meeting was a sneaky way for the mayor to ax the police department before next Monday's meeting, but that did not happen. Three members tell News 12 they believe our camera put a stop to what they call the mayors master plan. The mayor says that's just not true and he's only trying to save the city money.
Everything seems normal at first.
"I call this council meeting into order," but things quickly change in Washington City Council chambers, after Mayor Ames Barnett get things underway.
The chance of losing the city's police department, especially after a deadly shooting just last week, is what has some members insisting the PD stays in place especially, council member, Nathaniel Cullars.
Cullars claims Mayor Barnett is trying to shut down the department and called Friday's meeting only 24 hours in advance to make it happen. The mayor says that's just not true.
"I'm just committed to running this city financially sound. The police department expense is 1.1 million dollars," the mayor told News 12.
"Do you think if News 12's camera was not here they would've made some changes on the budget to push the closing of the police department quicker," asked News 12 reporter, Jorge Lopez.
"Absolutely, no doubt about it. Their plan was to go ahead and do that. They are trying to do it in a smooth way." Councilman Cullars told News 12.
He says Friday's meeting wasn't advertised enough. He says not putting it in the paper or receiving a call, as previously agreed on, leads him to believe the mayor is up to something. Mayor Barnett says putting an ad in a weekly paper is tough, when the meeting was just called a day ago, and as far missed phone calls, it's not his fault.
"Council says they didn't get a phone call, that's up to the city clerk and city administrator. They advertise, send out a notice, and notify council members," said the mayor.
The city still has the police department and no changes were made to the budget. That all could change after Monday's 6 p.m. meeting which is open to the public at The Pope Center at 48 Lexington Road.