Melton Timeline | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Melton Timeline

July 4, 2005 — New Mayor Frank Melton was sworn in at City Hall. In his speech, he promised that any young person who wanted one could have a job with the city, as long as they attended church regularly. Later in the day, sporting a specially made badge and a sidearm, Melton joined the police on a slew of checkpoints and neighborhood sweeps.

July 5, 2005 — Melton closed the Upper Level Sports Bar with a temporary injunction.

July 13, 2005 — Melton said he would immediately "evacuate, close down and tear down" the Maple Street apartments, terrifying its residents.

July 21, 2005 — JFP breaks the news that Melton had admitted to a Lauderdale County judge on July 7 that he lied in written MBN depositions.

July 22, 2005 — Melton told reporters that developers had 30 days to get the renovation funding paperwork for the King Edward moving or he would tear down the dilapidated hotel. Later that day, Melton learned that funding paperwork was actually on his desk and issued a new ultimatum, demanding that his own staff get the paperwork moving in 30 days or he would move to tear down the hotel—as opposed to merely telling them.

The Upper Level club re-opened.

July 27, 2005 — Melton sent a press release to the media calling for the immediate resignation of the almost 200 members of the city's 22 boards and commissions. Commission and board members, who mostly volunteer their service on the boards, largely ignored his order, which turned out not to be legally binding. Melton announced that Fire Captain Todd Chandler would serve as interim head of the Jackson Fire Department, taking the spot of long-time Chief Raymond McNulty. Chandler was still interim in December, despite Melton's desire that he be made chief. Melton has withheld Chandler's name from City Council because he fears Chandler will not win the vote.

July 28, 2005 — Melton and police officers raided an adult bookstore on Terry Road. Melton claimed that patrons were engaged in sexual activity. WLBT news said that "arrests" were made in the rear of the store for public sex, but the news station only reported one arrest, that of 50-year-old cashier Debra Washington.

Melton also announced a new crime plan insisting that municipal judges set bonds at a minimum of $500,000 for anyone "using a weapon to assault another human being." Melton does not have the authority to tell judges how to set their bonds.

Aug. 4, 2005 — Melton administration plays lock-out with JFP, with city spokeswoman Carolyn Redd telling reporter Adam Lynch and then-editor Casey Parks that the city was reluctant to talk to the JFP because the paper does "research and stuff that you all diligently go out and get."

Oct. 1, 2005 — Melton dumped the city police department's Crime Prevention Unit, leaving eight crime prevention specialists out of work with only days' notice.

Oct. 4, 2005 — The City Council voted to allow Melton to hire attorney and former Mayor Dale Danks for the city's shorthanded legal department, though Danks sued the city numerous times and was even representing the people of Byram at the time the council hired him.

Oct. 31, 2005 — Council members voted to hire business guru Jimmy Heidel as a consultant and limited liability corporation—rather than as an employee—to direct the city's economic development. Heidel makes $175,000, including fees and benefits.

Nov. 22, 2005 — Melton walked out of a council meeting when members asked how he intended to fund a $200,000 boot camp for the city's troubled youth. Melton said he interpreted the questions as personal attacks. The mayor soon stopped attending City Council meetings altogether.

Dec. 2, 2005 — Melton gathered JATRAN buses, city officials and the police to round up more than 300 Jackson Public School truants and drop-outs. Only three students were actually detained on a truancy charge during the first round-up.

Dec. 15, 2005 — the JFP reported that Melton argued the paper should have fact-checked a faulty memo he faxed to the paper, which later became the seat of the MBN suit against Melton.

Dec. 16, 2005 — Melton eliminated 46 jobs in two offices in the Planning and Development Department 12 days before Christmas. City employees panic over job stability, saying the mayor has more terminations planned.

Dec. 22, 2005 — Melton and Police Chief Shirlene Anderson put a lock on weekly crime stats and announce they are no longer holding regular COMSTAT meetings to provide crime statistics to the press. By the end of the year, Melton said they might give the stats to the media sometime next year and were likely to pass them by privately run group SafeCity Watch to ensure their "accuracy." (Melton is the "chairman emeritus" of that group.)

Jan. 2, 2006 — Melton pulls up to Jackson Apartments on Maple Street in the "Frank Tank" (the Mobile Command Center), handing property owner Andrew Moore a closing notice.
Jan. 9, 2006 — Melton fires 11-year city lobbyists Winston and Strawn LLP to hire 28-year old newbie, and personal friend, Marcus Ward. The council is furious, but powerless.

Feb. 9, 2006 — The JFP learns that Melton still has not filed for homestead exemption in the city that elected him mayor.

Feb. 10, 2006 — Melton axes city budgets, eliminates overtime in all departments, but then begins filling openings with temporary workers who can skirt the city's stringent drug and background tests.

March 2, 2006 — Acquitted gang member Vidal Sullivan is "arrested" by the mayor, who is not a cop.

March 28, 2006 — Melton's lawyers ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to dismiss the Lauderdale County lawsuit against him in after the judge struck his defense for lying to the judge. The petition fails.

April 6, 2006 — The JFP reports that Hinds County DA Faye Peterson is filing a motion to drop murder charges against Albert "Batman" Donelson after she learns that former MBN head Melton had compromised the witness in that case, Christopher Walker, promising the witness a job with the MBN. He also gave him cash, a credit card, a car and an apartment.

April 18, 2006 — Melton ally Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes calls for the election of a new council president when current president Marshand Crisler continues to voice concerns over the mayor's illegal nightclub closings and rabid secrecy. Stokes later withdraws his motion.

May 2, 2006 — Melton holds a press conference accusing the district attorney of corruption, vowing to investigate her—despite the lack of mayoral power to investigate the district attorney.

May 11, 2006 — The JFP acquires COMSTAT figures and is the first to report a crime surge, with major crime up 16.4 percent over 2005. Carjackings rose a whopping 123.5 percent.

July 25, 2006 — Michael Chapman, who is under Melton's unofficial "protective custody," allegedly steals a car from a hotel resident and vanishes.

Aug. 26, 2006 — Young men traveling with Melton on his nighttime raids allegedly beat a manager of the Upper Level Club with Melton standing nearby. Attorney Sharon Gipson, who is representing the club, accuses mayor of "terrorist acts," and vows to file suit. The same night of this incident, Melton and young men, including 16-year-old Michael Taylor, allegedly destroy a home on Ridgeway Street with sledgehammers. The JFP broke the story online.

Sept. 15, 2006 — Hinds County DA Faye Peterson indicts Melton and his city-financed bodyguards with five felony counts for the Ridgeway demolition. AG Jim Hood also charges Melton with firearms violations.

Nov. 2, 2006 — The JFP broke news that $113,000-a-year City Attorney Sara O'Reilly-Evans can collect an extra $45,000 for her work on the $65 million Convention Center bond proposal, along with other bond payoffs.

Nov. 15, 2006 — Melton pleads no contest to the AG's felony count and gets a reduced charge on the felony count and a guilty to two misdemeanors for gun law violations in Hinds County Circuit Court. He gets a six-month suspended sentence on each count, one year probation and is fined a total of $1,500.

Dec. 14, 2006 — JFP reports first that the city must come up with an extra $200,000 for demolishing the Town Creek Apartments thanks to the mayor's shirking of federal procedures in his haste

Jan. 22, 2007 — Melton announces he will have heart surgery in Tyler, Texas, to treat congestive heart failure. Days after getting his chest cracked open, reporters see Melton walking about normally behind the gates of his north Jackson home. He soon shows the scars on WLBT to quell rumors that the surgery never happened.

Feb. 11, 2007 — Melton and 20 members of the Jackson Police Department storm the Upper Level Club and close it as a potential fire hazard.

March 1, 2007 — Melton hastily checks himself into St. Dominic's Hospital at the same time that Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green issues a warrant for his arrest for numerous probation violations, including participating in the Feb. 10 raid of the Upper Level Club.

March 8, 2007 — Mississippi Supreme Court vacates the arrest warrant for Melton and removes Judge Green from supervising his probation.
April 2, 2007 — Department of Administration Director Rick Hill tells the City Council that the city is facing a $4.3 million shortfall due to lost revenue and cost overruns.

April 23, 2007 — Council members tell the JFP that Melton's Chief of Staff Marcus Ward threatened Jackson School Board member Jonathan Larkin's re-appointment to the board if Larkin does not approve a JPS bond project bid for a company supported by Melton.

April 26, 2007 — A Hinds County jury acquits Melton and his two bodyguards, Michael Recio and Marcus Wright, of all 11 charges they collectively faced for demolishing a Ridgeway Street duplex.

May 11, 2007 — Melton submits a memorandum to council members requesting they withdraw JPS board member Jonathan Larkin for re-appointment.

May 14, 2007 — Melton vows to remove pallet-recycling company A-1 Pallet company by the end of the year. A-1 Pallet later files a restraining order against the city to prevent arbitrary demolition.

May 22, 2007 — Four city council members hold a vote of no confidence for City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans in response to her Feb. 8 refusal to offer legal advice to the council upon the order of the mayor.

Aug. 7, 2007 — None of the candidates in the race for Hinds County district attorney captures enough votes to win the election, resulting in a run-off election between incumbent Faye Peterson and Democratic challenger Robert Smith, whom Melton backed.

Aug. 21, 2007 — Sheriff Malcolm McMillin endorses Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson, saying: "If Frank Melton is in support of a candidate, I'm against them."

Aug. 28, 2007 — Robert Smith wins the run-off against Faye Peterson for Hinds County district attorney.

Oct. 2, 2007 — The City Council votes to raid $3 million from the city's $7 million budget reserve fund to fix a lingering hole in the 2007 budget.

Oct. 4, 2007 — Melton promotes bodyguard Michael Recio to assistant chief, despite Recio's certification only as a patrol officer.

Nov. 16, 2007 — Melton appoints Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin as police chief.

July 9, 2008 — The FBI announces indictments of Melton and his two bodyguards for their role in the Ridgeway Street demolition.

July 16, 2008 — Melton and his bodyguards plead not guilty during arraignment.

Oct. 7, 2008 — Mayor Frank Melton's bodyguard, Marcus Wright pled guilty in federal court before Judge Anderson to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge for his role in the 2006 demolition of a duplex on Ridgeway Street.
Nov. 7, 2008 — Melton's attorneys file a motion to dismiss the federal case.

Nov. 7, 2008 — Prosecutors filed their own motion seeking sanctions against defense attorneys John Reeves and Cynthia Stewart for "unprofessional conduct."

Dec. 23, 2008 — Judge Dan Jordan orders Melton's physicians to present the mayor's medical records to verify that he is fit to stand trial.

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