Commissioners Marion Willliams and Calvin Holland led the charge to discuss the e-mail, defeating Mayor Deke Copenhaver's attempt to head off further discussion on grounds that Mr. Barbee has resigned.
"I think the community has been through this enough," the mayor said. "I would like to see it recommended we go ahead and recall this item."
"You can pull what you want to, Mr. Mayor, but this is an agenda item I placed on there, and I plan to talk about it," Mr. Williams said.
Not talking about it would be a slap in the face of the community and would suggest that commissioners were in support of Mr. Barbee's e-mail, he said.
"We as elected officials need to know where the housing director stands," Mr. Williams continued. "Jake Oglesby."
Mr. Barbee's Aug. 27 e-mail to developer brothers Clay and Braye Boardman concerning the evacuation of the Gilbert Manor housing project made a reference to making downtown whiter. It was widely disseminated and sent to the mayor by state Sen. Ed Tarver, who is the housing authority attorney, with a suggestion that the mayor ask Mr. Barbee to resign. The mayor did so, and Mr. Barbee resigned Sunday.
Commissioner Don Grantham said that the housing authority board was appointed by the mayor and that when Mr. Barbee's e-mail was brought to the mayor's attention, he took action.
"This commission doesn't really have anything to do with that board," Mr. Grantham said. He said the issue has been addressed.
Commissioner Calvin Holland disagreed, adding that when items referencing the people of the city hit the news media, officials have a responsibility to respond.
"Although Mr. Barbee has stepped down, which is good," he said, "the mayor has addressed this, which is good, we know that Mr. Barbee did not sit down and type up this message to himself. There were others involved with this particular e-mail, and for some reason or another this is going to come up again."
Mr. Holland said Mr. Barbee had violated the regulations and guidelines of the authority and he thinks Mr. Oglesby and the other board members were aware and should be held accountable.
The official vote to delete Mr. Williams' item from the agenda failed on a 5-1 vote with three abstentions. Only Mr. Williams voted no. A commission action requires six votes for passage.
Mr. Williams directed City Clerk Lena Bonner to put the discussion of the e-mail on the next commission agenda.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.