McLemore denies calling for picketing, boycottingPublished 9:51am Wednesday, June 12, 2013
FRANKLIN—Franklin City Councilman Greg McLemore spoke during the Citizens Comment period at Monday night’s city council meeting, which incited a call to order from Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn.
McLemore came down from his seat as Ward 3 councilman and spoke as a private citizen.
“It is a sad state of our local government when an elected official as myself is forced to speak during citizens’ time to comment on concerns or notify the public regarding city-related business,” he said.
McLemore continued saying he had several statements that concerned him.
“As to allegations in The Tidewater News and conduct unbecoming a councilman by my colleague, I emphatically deny any involvement, participation, organization, orchestration or membership with any disgruntled group including the one led by Bishop Rev. Dr. [Linwood] Johnson claiming to represent any citizens of Franklin for personal gain or anyone planning or for participating in any picketing or boycotts whatsoever.”
McLemore was referring to an email received at the newspaper last week and an article written about same, stating McLemore had called for picketing of “council members Barry Cheatham and Benny Burgess’s job and business and a boycott of Mayor Ashburn’s business.”
“However, the paper in its continued attempts to assassinate my character has twisted my comments to serve its own purposes,” McLemore said.
He then made allegations that citizens were being solicited by the Franklin Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney to provide assistance to “gain incriminating information” against him.
“Unless you have documentation, and you would have to take that to the courts, this is not the arena for that,” Johnson-Ashburn said.
“I’m alerting this council with my right of free speech,” he said.
“This free speech would have to be in the courts — it is a civil matter,” the mayor said.
When she asked him to follow the rules of order, he alleged she was not allowing him the right of free speech.
He further brought up an allegation about the mayor’s husband threatening bodily harm and “impending doom.”
“Citizen rules will be adhered to,” said Mayor Johnson-Ashburn, and called for McLemore to be escorted out by law enforcement. When two Franklin City police officers came forward, the mayor asked McLemore if he wanted to stay to return to his seat as a councilman.
“You can have your seat on the dais up here and act in your capacity as council, but anything about any personal issues will not be discussed here.” McLemore returned to his seat.
A few minutes later, he announced he had an urgent phone call and had to leave the meeting.