Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brooks Ousted, But, Backed by Her Attorneys, Declines to Go, Gentle or Otherwise

Vacancy is made official, and replacement process approved, but, citing "due process" and with a new narrative about her address, beleaguered ex-Commissioner will fight matter in court.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Ousted Commissioner Henri Brooks consults with Commission ally Walter Bailey on Wednesday
  • jb
  • Ousted Commissioner Henri Brooks consults with Commission ally Walter Bailey on Wednesday

After a rough couple of hours at the County Commission's (that adjective cuts in several directions, btw), the Henri Brooks situation remains unsolved, but the errant Commissioner (that adjective does double duty, too) has established her narrative.

On the matter of residence (which is the only matter that can disqualify her Commission service — never mind Hispanic-baitings, sheets, implied epithets, parking-space hoggings, water-pourings, think-you’re-white-do-you’s), the story she and her lawyers tell goes something like the following:

She did live on Crump Ave. once upon a time, as the good friend of the man whose residence it was. They broke up, and she moved out, but the heart still calls his place home. Yes, she was often seen at a Cordova residence, but that was her daughter’s place, and who could begrudge her staying over once in a while? And she’s been keeping it on the Q.T., but all this while she’s actually been living on Mississippi Boulevard (which is in District 2), thanks to the good graces of an unidentified “elderly woman.”

If that sounds like a rejected plotline for “Days of Our Lives,” it is in reality a well-prepared legal counter to the prospect Brooks now faces — with only weeks to go in her term — of expulsion from her Council seat for the simple reason of non-residence in the district she was elected to represent.

For someone who uses the term “my constituents” as often and as possessively as most people say “my car,” “my job,” and er, “my home,” this is an especially painful prospect for Brooks, and it probably wouldn’t do her current campaign for the job of Juvenile Court Clerk much good, either.

Because it could conceivably provide the basis for a claim of intent, residence-wise, however, the story told up above could prove to be useful to Brooks in Chancery Court, though it is woefully short of concrete evidence — a term her attorney Michael Working found too legalistic, the same Michael Working who was prolific with exaggerated terms like “sentencing” to describe the Commission’s action Wednesday in approving a resolution to open up her seat for a replacement process on July 7.

One conspicuous thing missing from Wednesday’s pageant was the self-conscious smirk Brooks wore non-stop on the occasion of her recent arrest (for misdemeanor assault) and court appearance after the parking-lot altercation.

This is more serious: To give Brooks her due, she takes her self-declared role as a tribune for the African-American street seriously, even if, for the few weeks remaining in her term. it is a largely symbolic issue, and even if not everyone else on the Commission, black or white, sees her role that way.

What comes next is hard to say — but it most certainly involves some legal maneuvering. Her attorneys — Andre Wharton and the aforesaid Michael Working — are presenting her current jeopardy as a pure case of due process and the American system itself under threat.

To summarize what went on Wednesday. Brooks arrived at 9:30 as the Commission was considering a new ethics code presented by Steve Mulroy, took her seat and joined in the unanimous vote for the new code, and saw her vote promptly challenged by Chris Thomas (he of the “you in the sheet” taunt from Brooks last month).

A good deal of wrangling followed — moderated on one end by County Attorney Marcy Ingram and on the other by General Government committee chairman Justin Ford. Walter Bailey became Brooks’ surrogate spokesman on the Commission, but in the end (though it took the Commission’s overruling Ford) the Commission disallowed Brooks’ vote and amassed enough 7-4 tallies (Brooks, Ford, Bailey, Sidney Chism being the holdout 4) to approve the ouster and schedule the July 7 replacement process.

Stay tuned. Never mind the fat lady. It's the lean and hungry lady that hasn't sung yet.

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