King Commission Beset by In-Fighting

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Martin Luther King Commission was in turmoil yesterday as members decided to no longer recognize one co-chairman.

The commission voted in a teleconference to longer recognize Odies Wilson of Little Rock.

But Wilson said in an interview afterward that he had not been notified of the meeting, and he questioned its legality.

Co-chairman John Walker said he would not recognize a motion by Commissioner Diane Charles to no longer recognize Wilson, but the panel voted to overrule him.  Walker voted against the motion, but said during the call that he believed Wilson and interim director Jerelyn Duncan were trying to interfere with commission business.

Walker accused Duncan of refusing to give new director DuShun Scarbrough the keys to the King commission office.

Wilson said in the interview that neither he nor Duncan was trying to interfere in commission business.

The commission voted to let Scarbrough start work tomorrow and to ask the state building authority for access to the commission office.  The panel has not voted on a salary yet for Scarbrough.

The commission's actions were the latest dispute that has shaken the panel over the legitimacy of its appointees and the prolonged process to find a permanent director.  Some meetings have had to be scrapped because not enough members showed up to conduct business.

The commission was created in 1994 to promote racial harmony, principles of nonviolence and awareness and appreciation of the civil rights movement.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)