Latta council votes for referendum to weaken mayor after police - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Latta council votes for referendum to weaken mayor after police chief fired

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The meeting underway around 5:30 pm Thursday. Photo by Matt Petrillo/WBTW The meeting underway around 5:30 pm Thursday. Photo by Matt Petrillo/WBTW
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LATTA, SC -

In a special meeting Thursday evening following the firing Tuesday of the Latta police chief by the Mayor, the city council has voted for a referendum to weaken the Mayor's power.

Earlier this week Latta Mayor Earl Bullard fired the town's Police Chief, Crystal Moore.

Latta Town Councilman Jarett Taylor told News13 the mayor decided to fire Moore because she received 7 reprimands.

But, some Latta residents and elected officials say Mayor Bullard has a vendetta against Moore.

At Town Hall this evening leaders and residents are holding a special meeting.

A council meeting in Latta is underway where some council members try to strip some power from its mayor, after he decided to dismiss Police Chief Crystal Moore, who has been with the department for 20+ years.

Around 6:30 pm, the Latta council voted 6-1 to move forward with referendum to become a Council-strong / Mayor-weak town.

Former chief Moore is attending the meeting, which was capped at allowing only 49 people inside.

She talked to WBTW just before 6 pm and says she had heard for weeks Mayor Bullard was going to fire her, and asked the mayor point blank at a council meeting back in February.

Just weeks ago, the Mayor told her those rumors weren't true.

Moore, though, was of course fired earlier this week.

Now, Moore says, she does believe the mayor had a vendetta against her and fired her because she is gay.

"I can't believe that we still have no equal rights. That's the biggest issue. I've been harassed, intimidated. This is the first time it's been this public. I'd tried living a quiet decent life and do what I'm supposed to," Moore said.

The next step for the town of Latta will be an actual vote by city residents about whether to change the town government to "council-strong."

Councilwoman Williams says the town must wait 60 days before putting out the referendum.

That would allow town residents to strip the mayor some of his power.

About 140 municipalities out of 270 in South Carolina have mayor-strong governments.

Previous story: Residents question why Latta mayor fired the town's police chief

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