Special New Boston city council meeting ends in chaos

City under turmoil over New Boston Police Chief
Published: Apr. 6, 2018 at 7:34 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2018 at 9:00 PM CDT
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NEW BOSTON, TX (KSLA) - A packed city council chambers in New Boston, Texas turns chaotic, after a council session ends abruptly, with citizens shouting at city leaders, demanding answers in a growing controversy threatening to ensnare city hall.

In the special meeting held at noon today, council members were called to approve a resolution granting the city’s mayor authority to hire and fire professional services, like outside lawyers, accountants, and engineers, without the approval of city council.

In March, New Boston Chief of Police Tony King fired veteran Lieutenant Johnny Milwood, a veteran New Boston police officer. Butch Dunbar, a lawyer representing Milwood, claims the dismissal violated Texas law, and the city council voted to reinstate the Lieutenant.

With Dunbar considering legal action, and City Attorney Michael Brock believing he would be legally and ethically barred from representing the town, city leadership is looking to hire outside counsel to defend New Boston.

That consideration led to the special council session, and the plan to give Mayor Johnny Branson the authority to hire and fire an attorney, without the 72-hour wait time necessary to hold a public meeting that would allow the city council to approve such a move.

But the resolution never made it to debate or discussion, let alone a vote.

After reading the resolution, Councilman David Turner made a motion to consider it, and Branson asked six times for a second motion.  When no one answered, the Mayor polled the remaining council members individually, but the motion failed.

At that point, the council meeting adjourned, and Mayor Branson quickly exited council chambers.

Moments later, after Turner read a statement commending Branson for his fifty years of service to New Boston, several town residents expressed their frustrations with how the Mayor and Chief King are handling the Milwood controversy.

"It's a dictatorship!" yelled one resident from the back of the chamber.

"They've made this place look like a laughing stock," said another, referring to recent reports in the media, including investigations by KSLA, detailing allegations of misconduct and racism leveled against Chief King in recent weeks.

During the back and forth between residents and Turner after the meeting broke up, councilman Joe Dike summarized the short special session, saying "We did not ratify the authority of the mayor to retain and release professional services."

Dike is now garnering some heightened attention himself.

With cameras and reporters milling around the packed council chamber, a New Boston resident walked to the front of the packed chamber room, saying the growing controversy is making the city look bad in the eyes of the public.

“I think a lot of that is true,” the man said referring to stories about the growing controversy and city hall and in the police department. “So there’s going to be some big changes in New Boston.”

Chief King was not at the special council meeting. The chief requested the presence of Texas State Troopers for security.

According to a report in the Texarkana Gazette, Mayor Branson invited two council members to his office to view surveillance video from inside city hall of an incident in which some city leaders allege Dike was trying to break into City Secretary Darla Faulknor's office to review Chief King's personnel file.

No crimnal charges are currently pending against Dike.

VIDEO: Man attempts to inspect New Boston's personnel files

Emails obtained by KSLA show an exchange between Dike and Faulknor in which both agree the councilman could come to her office to inspect the requested files.

However, no specific date or time is mentioned.

On Friday, March 30, KSLA cameras were at New Boston city hall and rolling, when Dike stopped by the building to look at the records.

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