WEST POINT —
Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey abruptly left the West Point Town Council meeting Monday night, citing the presence of a Cullman Times reporter who was in attendance.
The sheriff’s departure left town officials seemingly bewildered. Rainey stopped by the monthly meeting to campaign for reelection, but after noticing a Times reporter seated in the back of the room, he made a hasty exit.
Before leaving, Rainey spoke about the sheriff department’s purchase of 38 new Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicles, outfitted with new cages and other equipment, to replace old patrol cars.
“I’ll just come back another time. I didn’t know she was going to be here tonight,” Rainey told the council members, Mayor Kenneth Kilgo and Town Clerk Vivian Woods. “I came here to talk to you, not Miss (Tiffeny) Owens. No disrespect to you, Miss Owens, but you’ve never been fair to me.”
Council members said they were surprised by Rainey leaving the meeting early due to the presence of a reporter that routinely covers the meeting.
“I guess I need to leave because a reporter is here,” said Councilman Frankie Jones jokingly. “The sitting sheriff leaves because a female reporter is here? That says something.”
A surprised Kilgo said later, “I don’t know what that was about.”
After the meeting ended about 20 minutes later, Rainey spoke with council members outside the town hall.
This isn’t the first time Rainey has avoided the Times. At a recent Holly Pond Town Council meeting, he told officials “No, I’m good” after Mayor Herman Nail asked for him to speak to the council and residents in attendance at the meeting.
Rainey sat behind a male Holly Pond resident when the Times reporter turned on a camera and was overheard saying, “I don’t want to be on that camera.”
Last month, Rainey came under fire for his absence at a political forum hosted by the Dodge City Merchants Association. Rainey had initially agreed to participate in the forum with his Republican challengers Tim Creel and Matt Gentry. However, organizers announced at the beginning that Rainey had called to cancel his appearance due to being busy with issues that came up at the jail.
Several residents who attended the forum complained Rainey seemed unwilling to make himself available to the public.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135