DH woman says council member ‘bullied’ her over casino
By Dwayne Bremer
Jun 24, 2014, 22:47
A Diamondhead woman is claiming that Councilman Joe Lopez overstepped his authority last week, when he and interim city manager Richard Sullivan asked her to leave a parking lot where she was getting signatures for a petition against Jacobs Entertainment.
Lisa Lowell, 57, on Monday filed a report about the incident with the Diamondhead Police Department.
DPD Captain Al Hermann said Tuesday that his department did take a report on the incident, but there is no active investigation.
According to Lowell, she was in the parking lot of the former Rouses' Shopping Center on June 20, collecting signatures on a petition she started which opposes Jacobs.
Jacobs Entertainment has been planning a possible casino venture in the city for the past few years and is scheduled to appear before the Mississippi Gaming Commission on Thursday to see if its site meets state regulations.
When she was collecting signatures, Lowell said, Lopez and Sullivan pulled up in separate vehicles and questioned her about her activites.
Lowell said she had permission from a business owner in the plaza, but then Lopez called the business owner.
A short time later, Lowell said, the business owner informed her that she had to leave.
Lowell said she asked Lopez where she could go and he said "nowhere."
Lowell said she felt that Lopez was using his position as city councilman to "harass and bully" her into not seeking signatures for the petition.
Lopez said Tuesday that neither he nor Sullivan were rude to Lowell and he was not trying to bully her.
He said that he drove to the shopping center at the request of business owners.
"The way the course of events is being depicted is not accurate," Lopez said. "The city manager and I went to see what was going on because we got a few phone calls. When we arrived, we determined that Mrs. Lowell was illegally advertising on a city right-of-way. Under zoning ordinance 10.5.6A, advertising such as this is not allowed."
Lowell said Tuesday that she is weighing her options going forward.
Hermann said the incident is being considered a "civil matter" and there will be no criminal charges.