Forkland Mayor holds meeting, won't answer questions after firing employees
FORKLAND - AL —
A mayor accused of stealing money from the water department spoke for the first time publicly, but he wouldn't say much.
Forkland Mayor Derrick Biggs, who was arrested July 23 on charges he stole around $6,000 from the water department, fired two employees who reported the theft to the authorities last week. On Thursday, Biggs spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest after a city council meeting, one that was standing room only. The embattled mayor didn't say much to ABC 33/40 or his constituents, but he continued to maintain his innocence."There's nothing to talk about," Biggs said. "They're taking one thing and running on with it, but we're fine." No comments. I need to get out of here."The allegations against Biggs has been a divisive issue for Forkland, and the controversy has only grown since the termination of two water department workers -- Allene Broadwater and Alonzo Thomas. Normally, Forkland City Council meetings are not well-attended, but the ongoing concerns surrounding the mayor's arrest and the termination of employees has garnered the attention of the entire town, hence the overflowing crowd in attendance at the council meeting.
"I was upset but I kept calm," Broadwater said when asked about losing her job in the business office just two days after the mayor was arrested. Broadwater, who's still fighting to get her job back, contends that, according to the financial documents, Biggs had been stealing money from the city since December 2013.
"It's very personal," she said. "Dealing with my kids, financially it's impacted me a lot."Thomas, who had worked for the water department for 35 years before his termination last week, expressed frustration over losing his job for doing what was right, blowing the whistle on the mayor's alleged theft. "You do your job, come to work, and then a person comes in here and takes money and you turn them up then you get fired for doing it," Thomas said. "Rigth now, I don't feel like I want to come back. I don't want to work with [Forkland.] It's not right."The mayor's arrest has led to some residents refusing to pay their water bills due to concerns that their payments will end up in the wrong hands or stolen. "I'm afraid," one resident said. "If you give someone your money and they're supposed to be running something and they take it - it's not like someone working under them stealing, it's the boss stealing."
Those in attendance at the city council meeting weren't allowed to ask questions as the public comment portion of the meeting was eliminated.