Once upon a time, as the unchallenged "Golden Boy" of the North Mississippi economic development boon, a seemingly humble Southaven Mayor Greg Davis defined how a successful city should be run.
"This is not a kingdom and I am not the king. This is a group effort as a city that operates that way on a daily basis and operates that way in an emergency situation."
Flashforward to a special call meeting of the embattled Southaven Board of Alderman on Thursday, where the "emergency situation" continues to be restoring faith and transparency in local government after the mess the self-exiled "king" has left behind.
But, like the peeling away of the layers of skin from an odorous onion, Alderman Greg Guy and colleagues find themselves immersed in another Davis-related controversy. The "discovery" was that Davis had received for two years an additional stipend of $35,000 a year for supervising the city's water and sewer operations, in addition to his base salary of $145,000. It seems one call to the state attorney general's office was enough to cut off that particular financial spigot for Davis.
"We got an Attorney General's opinion when reviewing his compensations and we discovered it is not legal for us to pay him for that," said Guy.
Yet, it's not the legality, but the necessity for paying Davis a salary greater than most state governors, that still seems mind-boggling to many. In a 2001 Fox 13 News story Davis, at the time, was being paid $70,000 as Mayor. Simple math says Aldermen more than doubled his salary over the next decade, remarkable rise in pay which happened to coincide with the community's rapid growth in population and economic development.
Guy said of the salary, "Before all the negative came....and I've said before and been criticized for it. We've trusted him and I think we've paid him very well for what he's done."
While Davis' future remains in limbo so too does a decision by Alderman on whether to cut the Mayor's pay to be more commensurate with the job if and when he returns to office. In the meantime, a town without a king carries on business the way it was once defined, through group effort.