Citizens demand mayor quit post

By Ed Brock

A Jonesboro City Council member joined with several citizens in calling for the termination of the city manager and the resignation of the mayor at Monday night's meeting.

"I believe our city needs a new start with a new agenda," said Councilman Rick Yonce when calling for Mayor Joy Day to resign.

Prior to making that statement, Yonce had made a motion that City Manager Jon Walker be terminated, citing several reasons, including the city's decisions to outsource garbage collection and the disbanding of the Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department.

"I'm just concerned with what we are going to lose next," Yonce said.

Yonce's motion died for lack of a second.

Several members of a group calling itself Jonesboro Pride also came to the podium to call for Walker's termination and Day's resignation. The group has also turned over information to the Clayton County District Attorney's Office regarding what group members call an attempt by Day to "improperly or illegally" seize money in a special bank account holding funds contributed to the fire department.

Jon Crane, co-chairman of Jonesboro Pride, said that Day circumvented banking laws, lied and tried to lay claim to a Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department bank account.

Day previously denied the charges and said that she has acted in good faith in attempting to access the roughly $40,000 in the account, since the Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department has been disbanded, the department was a part of the city and the account was established under a city tax identification number.

Gail McDonald, the president of Tara Credit Union, where the account is held, wouldn't comment on the dispute. A letter obtained by the News Daily, however, confirmed that Day may have attempted to access the account without the proper authorized signatures.

In the Jan. 14 letter McDonald told Day that the credit union needed the signature of former Jonesboro Fire Chief Jimmy Wiggins and fire department volunteer Willis Swint to withdraw the money.

"Our head teller said that you told her that you talked to me yesterday and I knew this was going on and it was okay with me to change the signature card. I'm sure she must have misunderstood since I haven't spoken with you about the account before," McDonald wrote.

Day said the city's finance director actually spoke with McDonald and that it was her understanding that everything was set up to access the account. She also said that the issue was "something the law should sort out" and the city would abide by the law.

District Attorney Jewel Scott said her office is still reviewing the information.

At Monday's meeting Crane said he was hearing a different story from Tara Credit Union.

"I don't doubt that it's a different story coming out of the Tara Credit Union," Day said in response, causing a reaction among the audience members.

Walker also defended the city's treatment of the fire funds, saying that they have always been city funds under the city's tax ID number.

"The signatures of any corporation are subject to change," Walker said. "We have acted in our capacity to protect the assets of the citizens of Jonesboro."

Crane also read a letter in which he accused the city of "bad management of public funds" for leasing the fire headquarters building for $40,000 a month when it is paying more than that in insurance premiums and mortgage payments.

Roger Grider told council members they had "totally ignored" the registered voters in the city.

"We have no government representation in this city at this point in time," Grider said.