Jackson councilwoman not laughing at mayor’s prank

Published 4:04 pm Monday, December 24, 2007

A Jackson City Council member who was robbed at gunpoint several months ago says she saw no humor in the mayor and his bodyguards driving close to her car blaring a police siren on Friday.

Margaret Barrett-Simon said Mayor Frank Melton’s black Chrysler 300 with blacked-out windows drove close to her as she pulled into the parking lot of City Hall.

Barrett-Simon said Melton laughed and told her Michael Recio had sounded the siren and intended to pull her over in the future because she voted last week to rescind Recio’s assistant chief’s salary. The council voted 4-3 to drop Recio’s pay from $70,289 back to the $41,761 he earned while classified as an acting sergeant.

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“It was extremely unsettling to me. I didn’t, for a moment, know what was happening,” Barrett-Simon said. “I was told on the steps of City Hall as I opened the door, ’that was Recio,’ the mayor said. ’He doesn’t like your not paying him … and he’s going to pull you over every time he sees you.”’

The mayor said he could hardly believe Barrett-Simon took the prank so seriously.

“It was just a joke. She can’t even take a joke, she’s so sensitive,” Melton said.

Recio told reporters he was not the driver.

Council President Leslie Burl McLemore called the encounter “an act of intimidation.”

“Even if it was intended to be a joke, it was a cruel joke and the kind of joke that should not be played on anyone,” McLemore said.