A presentation about the Martha Dendy School Project on the Clinton City Council agenda Monday night sparked a shouting match between the man charged with getting public support for revitalizing the closed school and the city manager.

The police chief was instructed by the mayor to clear the council chambers; the chief did not do so but, instead, calmed the tensions. There was no resolution to the matter and it was tabled.

Council also gave its $30 million budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, the first of two required readings, introduced Lt. Phillip Wicker as Clinton’s Police Officer of the Year, and recognized fire department personnel for achieving Firefighter II status. Council approved seven public awareness resolutions.

This was the Clinton City Council’s regular monthly meeting, set for the first Monday of each month.

Rev. Steven Evans, in public comments, accused City Manager Bill Ed Cannon of “back door politics” related to the Martha Dendy Project, and spoke up for Councilwoman Shirley Jenkins who was spoken about at the last meeting by retired police officer Jerry Campbell.

Evans said Campbell’s tone was threatening and he should have been called down. Councilwoman Megan Walsh apologized to Jenkins for not speaking up during Campbell’s rant. Mayor Bob McLean read Campbell’s statement, from the formal record, and said it was not a threat; it was protected by the First Amendment.

It was Evans’ talk about the Martha Dendy Project that cause Cannon to rise from his seat and approach Evans, the former pastor of Friendship AME Church in Clinton and now a pastor in Irmo. Evans refused to back down. Police Chief Sonny Ledda intervened, and McLean ordered the council chambers cleared. Ledda did not take that action.

Cannon and Evans sat at a table and continued their conversation. Council then tabled continuing discussion of the Martha Dendy Project.

The Clinton City Council’s next meeting will be Monday, June 3.