Friction mounts in city of Grambling

Posted: January 6, 2009The city of Grambling conflict between the mayor and City Council continued tonight in a special-called meeting. The meeting was called by a majority of the council members.

It is reported that the Council wanted Mayor Martha Andrus to resign after she fired a newly hired accountant on Dec. 31, a move that the Council claimed was illegal. Willie Mabry was fired as he was in the middle of investigating the city’s finances.

Mayor Pro-Tem Edward Jones also informed the crowd that Andrus had planned to file complaints against Mabry and Pamela Stringfellow, city clerk, with the Grambling Police Department. The Council, however, said that they do consider both to be employees of the city, and Mabry promised to continue working with the city.

The Council claims that Andrus fired Mabry due to him discovering alleged embezzlement of $47,000 by former assistant clerk Elizabeth Jones.

“(Mabry) exposed the things we always expected,” said Edward Jones, mayor pro term. Jones also said that Andrus locked Mabry out of his office and authorized the banks not to give Mabry information via letter.

As part of his presentation, Mabry handed out documentation that he claimed showed that scheduled deposits were not in the bank.

“This is criminal,” Mabry told a packed City Hall. “From doing my accounting duty, these findings started to come out.”

Mabry stated that it took as long as 25 days for some deposits to show up in the bank after being collected. Mabry also said that he and Stringfellow, the town clerk, deposited checks that were left sitting in offices for nearly a month. Andrus cited illnesses in the front office as a reason the checks were not deposited.

Mabry also said he found invoices from vendors that had not been paid, including one for liability insurance for the city. Mabry said he wanted the citizens to stand strong against Andrus.

“This is your city,” he said. “It doesn’t belong to one person. Until the citizens stand with the Council.we won’t have a city that we can be proud of.”

The meeting also featured two motions passed by the Council. The Council passed one motion to continue to give Mabry and Stringfellow their pay. The other motion was to certify them as employees of the cities. However, Andrus said the motions were illegal. It is not clear what will happen with the motions, as the issue was never resolved.

Andrus apologized to the citizens of Grambling and said that everyone needed to work together to resolve the issues.

“We’re at an impasse,” Andrus said. “A lot of the problems.is mainly a communication issue.”

Andrus also refuted many of the claims that the Council made against her. She also said that there is “no money has been reported missing by the accounting firm we hired.”

Alderman Roosevelt Bryant was still adamant about the audit findings, which the Council said stated that money was missing.

“I think I’m going to quote Jerry McGuire on this,” Bryant said. “‘If the money is in the bank, then show me the money.'”

This is not the first time the city of Grambling has had audit problems. The 2007 audit was given no opinion and cited fiscal irresponsibility on the city’s part, a problem that was cited in the latest audit.

The Council said that the Louisiana State Police has been notified and they are investigating the case.

The Council plans to hold its regular meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.