COPY-Tempers flared over Fuelman card controversy - - Jackson, MS

COPY-Tempers flared over Fuelman card controversy

By Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) –Fuelman card use re-emerged as a controversial issue, causing tempers to flare during a special Jackson council meeting Monday.

The mayor and a councilman are at odds over who needs to oversee the city's gas card system.

Ward One Councilman Jeff Weill grabbed papers from the hands of Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. during several heated exchanges involving the Fuelman accounting.

"Was that a snatch Mr. Weill?," asked Mayor Johnson.

"That was a snatch Mr. Mayor," answered Councilman Weill.

Johnson was distributing Fuelman exception reports from various city departments to members of the council.

Weill accused the mayor's administration of refusing to provide him information about management of the city fuel charge cards and denying him direct access to account information.

He wants to know how much is being spent, where and by whom.

"Why do I need to file a Freedom of Information Act to get this information that this council is clearly entitled to? I can do that. I shouldn't have had to even had a discussion item on it. I should have had a simple ok with a click of one finger saying it was ok," said Weill.

"Well Mr. Weill, I guess you're gonna have to get accustomed to the way this mayor's gonna run this city and you're not gonna be able to run it from ward one, and that's just the way it is," said Johnson.

The ward one councilman said there were 22,000 cases of misuse last year.

The mayor accused Weill of trying to use threats and intimidation to get access to information which is the responsibility of his administrators.

Johnson said Fuelman exceptions or flagged  system purchases have decreased from  503 when he took office in July to 359 in November.

Weill requested that council members go into executive session.

He said he would name Jackson Police Department personnel, in charge of Fuelman, who he claimed misused  the cards

Instead Council President Frank Bluntson suggested that the two meet to discuss their differences.

Weill, Johnson and Police Chief Rebecca Coleman met behind closed doors for about 20 minutes before emerging with some agreement.

"We were able to share information about where we were that he didn't know previously and agreed that if he ad additional information that he could provide that we would move forward with that," said the mayor.

But Weill still wants access to Fuelman accounts.

"I will file a Freedom of Information Act tomorrow in order to get that information. If I don't get that information then we have several options including going to court."

Chief Coleman declined to comment on Weill's claims and referred all questions to Mayor Johnson.

The mayor said an ongoing Internal affairs investigation into Fuelman use will be concluded this week.

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