Prichard mayor's right-hand-man accused of stealing more than $100K of taxpayer money

(IMG:WPMI) Prichard mayor's right-hand-man accused of stealing more than $100K of taxpayer money

Tensions ran extremely high at Prichard’s City Council meeting Thursday evening, held just hours after the Mayor’s former chief of staff was arrested and charged with 17 counts of embezzlement. District Attorney Ashley Rich says Mr. James Blackman embezzled more than $100,000 over the course of several years. Each count represents a check written, Rich says.

“You’re looking like empty heads. You’re looking like bubble gum brains,”

concerned community member Howard Porter said.

Porter spoke before councilmembers, expressing his disappointment with the situation and how city leaders handled tax payer dollars.

Today is one of the saddest days this city has ever endured,

Porter said, adding

You have magnificently allowed more than $100,000, probably two or three hundred thousand dollars, you don’t even know.

Community members joined Mr. Porter, applauding and nodding with his statements during his six-minute allotted time slot to address the council.

If you’re not big enough and too friendly with the Mayor to demand that you get that information, then each and every one of you should exit that podium with resignations signed, sealed and delivered to the city clerk,

Porter said, adding

We don’t have money to misappropriate

Mayor Jimmie Gardner did not attend the city council meeting, but did release a statement following Mr. Blackman’s arrest.

NBC 15 News asked District One City Councilman Lorenzo Martin to respond to Mr. Blackman’s arrest and the comments community members made at the council meeting. Martin said he doesn’t disagree with Mr. Porter’s stern comments and says if there isn’t more accountability in the city and council, he will have to leave his seat.

“I think there’s are a lot of things the council should responsible for and we’re hurting today because, personally, I think we have let the citizens down with what we allowed to take place,” Martin said.

At the end of the meeting, the council voted to table a resolution that requests the documents for the city’s financials in all formats, set by law as public record.

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