The firing of a Madison County economic developer will most likely take a number of twists and turns before the issue is settled and this central Mississippi county can get back down to business.
Mark Bounds, who was ousted as chairman of the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) two weeks ago, has called on the Attorney General and other investigators for help and says news stories have only presented one side of the issue. At press time, Bounds told the Mississippi Business Journal he still could not comment under advice from attorneys.
His apparently imminent legal action stems from a letter written by MCEDA president Steve Vassallo to Madison County District 2 Supervisor Luther Waldrup two weeks ago. In the letter, Vassallo tells of a Feb. 26 incident when Bounds allegedly asked him to show a Rankin County property to an out-of-state client, before showing Madison County properties, Waldrup said. Vassallo refused and decided to write the letter to Waldrup.
Bounds owns the real estate firm Madison Realty Group but has reported in previous news stories that he does not represent the Rankin County property he wanted Vassallo to show.
Waldrup said after receiving Vassallo’s letter, he called Bounds and asked him to hand in his resignation.
“It wouldn’t have been in the papers if I’d had it my way,” Waldrup said. “I’m one, (Vassallo) is two, Mark is three, and we could have kept it in that small circle. It would have been the best for his family, his business, for everybody.”
On Wednesday, May 13, Waldrup met with Bounds, at which time he said Bounds recorded the meeting without his knowledge. Two days later, Waldrup said he met with Bounds again to ask for his resignation and found an investigator for the state there who told him the FBI would be involved.
Waldrup left Bounds and the investigator to attend the MCEDA board meeting later that morning and, having received no resignation from Bounds, had him removed.
It is up to Waldrup to appoint a replacement to the board with supervisor approval. Which board member will take over as chairman will be decided on by the board.
Last week, Bounds called for Vassallo’s removal as president, claiming Vassallo should have discussed the matter with him first before going to Waldrup. Vassallo says he did not talk to Bounds about it because Bounds was involved.
“For him to call for my firing because of something he did, I find it amusing,” said Vassallo.
At press time, no action had been taken by Bounds or the MCEDA board concerning Vassallo’s job.
MCEDA board member Chip Estes refused to comment until more is known about Bounds’ side of the story. A regular meeting of the MCEDA board was set for Thursday, May 21.