The Greater Starkville Development Partnership is expected this week to deliver to Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn a letter supporting CEO Jennifer Gregory and the organization’s previous push for a transparent, non-partisan ordinance review committee, sources close to the situation have confirmed.
The GSDP Executive Committee authorized Chairman Richard Hilton to draft and sign a new resolution aimed at clarifying the situation during the board’s executive session Thursday, according to sources. Hilton’s letter is expected to reiterate the fact that Gregory serves as a spokesperson for the board, and a previous letter she sent the board in support of a failed resolution that would have created a committee to review the town’s sidewalk and landscaping ordinance was authorized by the Partnership’s overseers.
Wynn publicly criticized Gregory over the letter, accusing her of using the Partnership to promote her personal opinions.
The new letter is expected to also be delivered to Mayor Parker Wiseman and Starkville’s other six aldermen. It is unknown if the mayor and board will receive the draft before today’s 3 p.m. joint strategic planning session at Renasant Bank with county supervisors and GSDP officials. The meeting is open to the public.
Following Thursday’s meeting, Hilton said he and other board members emphatically stand behind Gregory’s letter and are committed to the Partnership’s leader. He gave similar statements to the Dispatch Tuesday after Wynn used the Starkville Board of Aldermen’s meeting to criticize Gregory.
Gregory’s letter, delivered earlier this month on behalf of the Partnership, supported Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker’s failed resolution to create a seven-person committee, comprised of aldermen, developers and community advocates, to review Starkville’s sidewalk and landscaping ordinances. Wynn, whose original motion tasked Community Developer William Snowden with overseeing the review without clear goals or scope, joined Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 3 Alderman David Little, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn in defeating the proposal.
Wynn took Gregory, who was absent from the meeting at the time, to task because the letter did not feature signatures from executive council members, saying Partnership overseers did not support her overture. The GSDP committee authorized Gregory to write the letter in a prior board meeting.
“I am outraged about the false allegations, and I am confident that any and every GSDP executive council member will confirm that there was unanimous support for that measure. I also have confirmation from (Hilton) that he was misrepresented in Alderman Wynn’s comments,” Gregory told aldermen once she arrived at the meeting. “I would like the public record to please reflect the truth. This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable for a community member to be called out on false allegations or an opinion.”
“If Mr. Hilton will issue me a statement citing that, I will be more than happy to ‘woman-up’ and apologize to you and the Partnership, but until then, my letter that I read tonight will stand,” Wynn rebutted, sticking to her original message.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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