Richie McAlister is no longer the city of Meridian’s chief administrative officer after Mayor Percy Bland asked him to resign, the mayor said Tuesday.
“I just don’t think there was a path forward between my office and the city council for a good working culture with him as my CAO,” Bland said. “We want to continue to move forward.”
McAlister had been on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act since early December 2019, according to the city. He was appointed to the post in December 2015.
“It’s a personnel matter and I cannot comment,” McAlister said Tuesday.
McAlister and the city council had been at odds over the past year.
Ward 5 Councilman Weston Lindemann attempted to remove McAlister's salary in early December 2019, based on concerns about an audio recording that Lindemann said appeared to be of McAlister threatening violence against the councilman.
Fellow council members did not second Lindemann's motion.
Bland said later that he reprimanded McAlister over language in that recording.
Later that month, Lindemann proposed repealing a city ordinance that established the CAO position and decreasing funding for the executive salary by $90,000.
Both attempts failed.
During that meeting, Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston said that it was Bland's responsibility to take any action against McAlister.
In April 2019, Lindemann proposed the elimination of McAlister's salary, but the mayor vetoed a 3-2 vote that was in favor of the pay cut.
Lindemann could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
“I am hopeful that the mayor will put somebody in place that will work with the council so that we can continue the level of communication and professionalism that we’ve experienced in these last several months,” Houston said Tuesday.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Fannie Johnson said she was not aware of the details in the matter and had no further comment.
Public Safety Director Doug Stephens had taken on additional administrative duties in McAlister's absence.
Councilman George Thomas, who represents Ward 1, said he hated to see McAlister go.
“I know there was controversy surrounding his time with the city, but I think he did a good job,” Thomas said. “That’s the mayor’s decision, since he serves at the pleasure of the mayor … If it had been up to me, I would have kept him.”
The mayor and the city council will discuss the CAO position at the next council meeting on Tuesday, March 3, Bland said.