Shouting Match: Century Council Members Spar Over Attendance, Call To Resign

January 20, 2022

A week after the Century Town Council was unable to do business without a proper quorum, the council voted this week to change their meeting schedule and elected leadership in a meeting that evolved into a shouting match.

The vote as 4-1, with Leonard White against, for Luis Gomez, Jr. as the council president. With a 5-0 vote, Dynette Lewis was named vice president.

With a unanimous vote, regular meetings were changed from Mondays to the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The council moved the meetings, in part, because White has been unable to attend Monday meetings due to his job as a corrections officer.

“Tuesday would be best for me. Like I said, whatever works best for Mr. White,” James Smith (pictured above, left) added. “We don’t have the luxury of just sitting home and doing nothing, so we got to make sure that it works both best for us.”

White and Smith began to question why they learned from a article that Gomez had called for them to step down if they cannot attend meetings.  Due to his job, Smith often joins council meetings late on Zoom and arrives in-person late in a meeting after most business has been addressed. White has missed many, many meetings altogether over the last several months.

“Why do you want us to resign, when we got to take care of your families; this is where we live. This is where we from. This is our home” White (pictured above, right) said. “Ain’t nobody going to run me from my home….if Century want me to resign, then vote me off, but don’t put me in the newspaper saying that we need to resign because we do our job, and we do it right.”

White said he was addressing his comments at both Gomez and Publisher William Reynolds as he expressed his displeasure about the news story.

In the January 12 article, Gomez was quoted as saying: “You should give that position your best. And if you do anything less than your best is not just for your benefit, it’s for the benefit of the people that elected you,…If you feel that your job is more important, maybe you should just do your job and be a good sport. Step down and allow someone who’s going to do the town the justice it deserves.” (Click here to download and hear Gomez’s comment in complete context.)

Tuesday night, Gomez (pictured left) again addressed the issue as the discussion evolved into a shouting match.

“I’m going to say this because I am saying it to your face,” Gomez said to White.

“You don’t don’t talk to my face now,” White replied.

The discussion continued for several more minutes, becoming more heated as council members started to shout.

“If y’all don’t like what I said, do something about it. Either show up or resign,” Gomez said Tuesday night.

“What, what, what, what place do you have to tell me to resign though?” Smith questioned. “If I’m going to resign, I’ll resign if I want to.”

“We have jobs, man. We have jobs” White said.

“Go do your job, and let somebody else do this,” Gomez responded. “Okay, let somebody do this, and you do your job.”

The council discussion moved into other unrelated discussions, before Smith returned in the “council comments” portion of the agenda.

“None of you are going to question my integrity if I’m passionate about the town of Century. And you, nor Will, will ever dictate if I’m going to resign,” Smith said, addressing his comments to Gomez and Reynolds.

“My job entails a lot, and I don’t have to indulge you (Gomez) or that idiot (Reynolds). So I’m not okay with how you choose to think because you’re a president or whatever you are, you can poke your chest out and determine what place I have here and the town,” Smith continued.

According to previous council statements, Gomez is retired. White is a corrections officer at the Century Correctional Institution, and Smith is employed by an area school. Council member Dynette Lewis is employed by a manufacturing company, and Sandra McMurray-Jackson owns a local service business.

Pictured top: Century council members James Smith (left) and Leonard White. Pictured inset: Council president Luis Gomez, Jr. photos, click to enlarge.


31 Responses to “Shouting Match: Century Council Members Spar Over Attendance, Call To Resign”

  1. biscuit on January 21st, 2022 6:59 pm

    Either show up, grow up, or resign.

  2. Mr.Metoo on January 21st, 2022 12:24 pm

    Is requesting council members to attend meetings considered town businesses is? If so, to discuss with two or more members the Sunshine Law would be applied. Gomez got that one right this time. Ironically, If Smith and White were at the meetings they would know this.

  3. Shaking My Head on January 21st, 2022 10:15 am

    The Town of Century should be dissolved, and Escambia County take over. This is nothing but a circus.

  4. Valid Point on January 21st, 2022 8:54 am

    @Century Resident

    No one cares that you coached these two men when they were little. Perhaps if they’d had better coaching, they would be more accountable adults. These men knew that they had jobs and extracurricular activities prior to deciding to run for an elected position. It is unfair to the citiizens of Century for them to lazily do the job. If they have other pressing matters to attend, that is fine. Handle that and leave Council work to someone that will get the job done. Whether you like Mr. Gomez or not, he is absolutely correct. Lastly, I would like to think that 90% of the people commenting on here have skeletons in their closests, so leave the subliminal warnings to Mr. Gomez out of your thoughts. Have a great CENTURY Day, all!

  5. Well on January 21st, 2022 8:36 am

    Free money for doing nothing.

    It’s the new norm.

  6. Century resident on January 20th, 2022 6:57 pm

    Well I just have to say I know these two guys pretty well I coached them in football at a you g age I think they both do a good job on the counsel and I also think people should no what they talking about when they comment on here it’s not that Mr Smith is in school at the time of the meetings he is a basket ball coach and Mr white is taking care of his family I respect them both maybe Gomez should resign

  7. Jeremiah on January 20th, 2022 3:09 pm

    You can tell there is zero communications going on here.
    Quit a job…NO..convenience a board…NO..

    I cat see why grown people cant sit down and discuss what times and schedules for meeting will be…retired people are the most flexible of the bunch.
    Posturing makes you less credible and makes the whole affair a soap opera with the name calling throwing out ones ego makes the town look ill.
    Business 101…make a schedule, change a schedule..stop acting like a little kid..with the demeaning verbiage to try and impress others at the table.
    You Gomez do not have leadership ability to even get into any argument.
    Proof I am divided and alienated everyone.
    And you accomplished NOTHING!!
    Thank you for your disservice to our town.
    Next..stop embarrassing yourself with demands. You are in no position to tell anyone to make a choice.
    Dont think you do just because you say so.

  8. David Jones century resident on January 20th, 2022 2:03 pm

    Well well well Gomez you are so right about your point of action. But let’s not forget you have skeletons in your closet as well. But this new council knew white was working and the fact smith had a career before they both ran for seat so what’s the big deal.

  9. Darla on January 20th, 2022 1:29 pm

    @ Former C-O Man

    You know the CCI number,
    Being you were a “former”
    Perhaps you pose that jaded wuestion to the Warden.
    You might well try to be a bit more inconspicuous in your motive on your concrrn what people wear.

  10. Former C-O Man on January 20th, 2022 1:11 pm

    How does the Department of Corrections fell about being represented this way? He is in uniform, thus representing the FDC.

  11. chris on January 20th, 2022 1:09 pm

    And yet, people still scratch their heads and wonder why businesses are not flocking to locate in Century. The governmental body is one big joke!

  12. Retired LEO on January 20th, 2022 12:54 pm

    Sounds like someone is butthurt about being questioned for not doing what he was elected for. Now he’s calling people names because he was pointed out, I bet he’s a pleasure to work for.

  13. JEC on January 20th, 2022 12:47 pm

    Just dissolve the town already. Century is dead and it isn’t coming back. Let it go.

  14. David Huie Green on January 20th, 2022 12:42 pm

    Don’t seek a job you know you can’t do.

    Do the job you have agreed to.

    Or not… it’s all up to you.

    Don’t choose those you don’t expect to do what is needed.

    Or do… just accept the consequences.

  15. Denny on January 20th, 2022 12:13 pm

    White talks how important his job is (for the prison) and totally ignores the importance of the job for the ENTIRE TOWN. He knew HE COULDN’T DO BOTH at the time.
    If he ignored his prison job like he does the council business, he’d be expected to resign there, too – yet has the nerve to get upset when his (council) boss mentions it. Gomez said something White should’ve already realized himself.

  16. jason on January 20th, 2022 11:19 am

    come to work or quit

  17. RaD on January 20th, 2022 10:25 am

    “White and Smith began to question why they learned from a article that Gomez had called for them to step down if they cannot attend meetings.”

    Could it possibly be because you weren’t at the meeting? Just guessing.

    I appreciate Mr. White has conflicts with his job, although if he was working the late shift when he ran for office, I am not sure how he planned then to make meetings, since he knew they happen.

    As far as Mr. Smith, there is no school that is operating at 7pm at night. If he is not showing up, it is because he doesn’t want to be there. And while I doubt I would agree with Mr. Gomez on many things, I have to say in this instance, he is correct. If you have other, more important obligations on a regular recurring basis that keeps you for making meetings required by holding the office, then resign and let someone do the job that can.

    Finally, calling Mr. Reynolds, who I do not know and don’t always agree with, an idiot, tells you this is a person not fit to hold public office. The comment was unnecessary and idiots are rarely as successful in their endeavors as Mr. Reynolds appears to be.

  18. Ol' Skinny on January 20th, 2022 10:21 am

    And this North Escambia residents is why Century will forever be the laughing stock of the panhandle! It is a circus up there.

    Why would anyone run for an office they can not support and what clowns (again, a circus) voted them into office KNOWING that they wouldn’t support the role they were elected to serve in???

    Welcome to the Big Top!

  19. century resident on January 20th, 2022 10:13 am

    Gomez needs to stop before his skeletons get to falling out his closet

  20. tg on January 20th, 2022 10:07 am

    Century brings new meaning to One Flew Over The CoCos Nest.

  21. SueB on January 20th, 2022 9:53 am

    Resign as you people are not helping Century. You both are making Century look like dumb hick town with nothing but dumb hicks. Where is the County Commissioner? Call the Governor to step in. He will fire them both.

  22. CJ Lewis on January 20th, 2022 9:44 am

    Under state law, a council member must be physically present at the meeting site for the purpose of establishing that there is a quorum. Absent a quorum, the council cannot do any business. The council can address this issue by voting that council members must be physically present for the meeting and may not “dial-in.” They can do further and vote that if you are not present for a meeting, you have to pay a fine or forfeit a one’s salary, etc. Further, it is not legal at all to dial-in to vote. It was for a short while during the prior statewide COVID-19 emergency. Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-69 that allowed remote meeting participation for the purpose of establishing a quorum and remote voting. That ended in September 2020. Someone should write Governor DeSantis and ask him to remove White from office on the grounds of Neglect of Duty. The council can adopt a resolution and ask the governor to do the same. In addition, White’s constituents can remove him from office using the state’s Municipal Recall provision described in Section 100.361, Florida Statutes.

  23. Bob on January 20th, 2022 9:29 am

    TOC should sponsor the WWE !!!

  24. Mary on January 20th, 2022 9:18 am

    So, Mr. Smith, you run for the position on the city council, are elected, & then you decide what night is best for you to attend meetings for your elected position? You should have established that BEFORE you ran. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
    You people are absurd! Are you in the sandbox or are you actually adults? Century has become a disgrace between you people constantly fighting and all of the other depravity going on there. The good days for Century are gone, we older folks do not like what it has become, it’s so sad! I’m ashamed to say that I was born, raised, & went to school there, it breaks my heart to see what’s happened to my hometown.

  25. Bama89 on January 20th, 2022 8:57 am

    I can’t speak for any of the individuals involved because I don’t know them. But to the situation in general, I completely understand the fact that missing town meetings, especially multiple for any reason, would be a problem, as all members need to be present while making decisions for the town they live in.
    However, I surely wouldn’t want to live in a town governed solely by retirees.
    It’s nice to work hard and be able to retire, and you’re still very much a part of the town, but to have council meetings that only allow for folks without jobs or daily responsibilities to attend seems strange. Who are all these people with this FREE TIME everyday and why are they in any position of power on a town council?

  26. Dane on January 20th, 2022 8:54 am

    When you think shouting in this type of positionis ok , you are grossly mistaken.
    You bring the town downward to rock bottom because you are not educated in many facets of the leadership role.
    Shouting,name calling?
    I would suggest all to resign and contract leadership out for the towns best interest.
    Starting now.
    It dont matter who is right…you dont bring out all of your arrogance and ignorance for public display and envoke a shame atmosphere to show you are in control.
    Because your not.
    We the citizens are and we see we have made a big mistake boting all in.
    Time for change.
    Please dont try and apologize for your actions, this shows who you really are.
    This job is not about self importance!!!
    All of you,grow up and step down and make the town better.
    From Gomez to the bottom.
    Like I said, it dont matter who is right…you diminished our town with your infantile display

  27. Jeff Gainey on January 20th, 2022 8:36 am

    If you can’t do the job then simply resign. It’s that easy. Why take on a job when you know you can’t do it. That’s absolutely insane.

    This is very easy. If you can’t even show up to meetings, please, just quit.

    Gomez is right. Find someone else or.

  28. retired on January 20th, 2022 8:26 am

    white you “Either show up or resign”

    city charter needs to change, by saying miss two (2) or more meetings, you must resign.

  29. Bewildered on January 20th, 2022 7:48 am

    Every time I think their comments can’t get any dummer they prove me wrong. White works to support his family- great, give him a medal!!! If there is a continuous conflict between work schedule and representing the town – anyone with half a brain would choose which one takes priority. Obviously he can’t even grab this basic concept. Sad..,

  30. sam on January 20th, 2022 7:23 am

    it is clear there is a problem with this group. some can’t do the job due to having a job that conflicts with his attendance. that is a problem. if you aren’t at the meetings the city business can’t be done. that should be a no brainer. lets start all over. a new election, with qualifications being you need to BE THERE>

  31. Saturday night live on January 20th, 2022 7:12 am

    Gomez is in the right to call out those two. One works at a school and can’t make the late meetings? What does he do that requires him to stay so late. And the corrections officer, we appreciate what you do but you work shift work, not running a multi national corporation. You both need to resign from what I can see. Century is a circus and you all look like fools. I feel for your constituents you represent.

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