A Final Warning to Black City Council Members

editorials, October 2019

Our Americus Sumter Observer newspaper has been reaching out to Juanita Wilson, Kelvin Pless, Daryl Dowdell, and Nelson Brown to protect themselves from those forces that want them out of power. As the majority on the city council, they can vote to bring in businesses, jobs, remove the current city attorney, and put strong board members on several critical governing boards, e.g. hospital authority, election board, payroll development and more.

We witnessed an interview on WALB a few days ago with Americus City Mayor Barry Blount. The interviewer was asking Blount why the Americus City Council chose Charles Coney as city manager. Referring to Coney’s problems in Hampton, GA where he was terminated and that Bibb County would not promote him to their county
manager position. Blount’s reply was that he was aware of Coney’s issues but “the majority (Black) wanted him.

We have asked Rev. Matt Wright, NAACP president and our publisher Dr. John Marshall both of whom have championed civil rights issues in Sumter County, whether they suspected that the city council Blacks are being set up by the white minority. Both men expressed deep concerns over the Black Councilpersons needing to at least hire a competent city attorney that would give them legal cover before they get hurt. We have published in the Observer how deceitful the current city attorney, Jimmy Skipper, is as he was caught trying to take advantage of the Black school board members who were in the majority at that time. Now hearing Blount on WALB emphasize the Blacks chose Coney; implying there will be problems but that he and the White councilpersons didn’t have anything to do with it.

We only want to help the Black city council members but they are so preoccupied with the fear of White people thinking that John Marshall is telling them what to do; so they have chosen to do nothing. Dr. Marshall said, “I really don’t have a dog in this fight. I just hate to see a solid Black majority get in trouble or one of them is removed.”

Daryl Dowdell told Dr. Marshall in a text, “That he [Marshall] wants the council members to be his puppets.” Marshall said, “I just shook my head in disbelief that this young man thinks that I want to control them. Why? I have worked with this city council since 1991. He will find out who his enemy is real soon and it is not me. I just want to warn them of plans being made for their embarrassment and apparent failure. The indirect control that the white minority has on them is based on their fear of Marshall trying to control them. Many Whites in power do not like for them to have control of the agenda and the money; thus the separation from a local civil rights leader like Marshall continues to be divide and conquer. You can bet they are meeting and plotting until they take back control. They suspect potential embarrassment by the newly hired city manager because of his history of political problems. Stay tuned to the Sumter Observer for updates until then.”

An example of what could happen is the case of Black County Commissioner Al Hurley who ended up in prison. We know the Sumter County Commissioners very well and some of the Whites on the commission were known bad actors but none of them went to prison.

Since Coney has become the city manager, we see where the local White newspaper, the Americus Times Recorder featured Daryl Dowdell on the front page reporting that he is going to Japan. Being featured in the White newspaper makes Dowdell think they are on his side. We can only warn our Black council members to get ready because their enemies are plotting and coming. The local White paper has historically conspired with leaders like Blount and Skipper and others behind the scenes to take power back from the Black members. We saw this play out in Albany where the county attorney, the chairman of the commission, and the Albany Herald published negative news about Black commissioner John Hayes resulting in his defeat by a former Black drug dealer who served time in prison.

We can’t emphasize enough the need for another city attorney. One who will support them as well as the White council members. There are too many traps that can be set if you don’t have good trustworthy legal advice. Charles Coney is very vulnerable as Blount intimated on the WALB interview. We of the Observer can’t say how their enemies will come after them but rest assured they are coming for you and will not be satisfied until they have conquered.