Review of February 3, 2015 Board Meeting: The Extortion Edition
The board voted to allow the Mayor to sign CDBG forms for Jason Hicks with Sample and Hicks for the City of Lumberton. The order to advertise for bids for the 2014 CDBG sewer improvement project contract no. 1 for upgrdes to wastewater treatment plant. There was an order to approve engineering estimate no. 1 in the amount of $16,940 for the CDBG Sewer Improvement project. The board also voted to open a non-interest bearing account for the CDBG sewer account. There was an order to discuss the scope of work items for the 2015 FAA-AIP Grant Project. According to Hickman, the City of Lumberton will be responsible to pay $13,000 of the grant (5%) for the beacon and construction of a new hanger. Keep in mind, the City of Lumberton collects $4,200/year in rent for the entire airport. At some point, hopefully, someone will realize that we need to generate enough revenue to cover the matching funds we must pay for airport improvements that are being enjoyed by Gold Coast Skydivers.
Despite the fact that the fire department has failed to turn in $2,800 in receipts, the board voted to open a bank account for fire improvement. They also voted to open an account for airport improvement. It was said these accounts needed to be separate from general fund. It seems that a similar account would be opened for the police department. Jay McGraw is heading up a community clean up project. They said they will provide the date of the event to Kathleen Bogle, so check your Sunday paper for updates.
The department heads gave their reports. Chief Cowart said the jail bill is increasing. She also explained why the City of Lumberton cannot participate in the amnesty program. The amount of uncollected fines is bordering the million dollars mark. Danny Davis, of Public Works, requested to have some weekends off. Davis suggested his handpicked assistant, Michael Tims, be given the opportunity to work in his steed. Tims will get a few hours overtime and Winston said there was money in the budget to cover the overtime; despite claiming the city is broke for months. Davis didn't mention that Tims will need a take home truck unless he's already taking home a truck. Excuse me, I forgot evey department had significagant cuts except the public works department. Merlene Wall gave her report as well. She explained that the water bills were not corrected with white out; she explained that Keenon Johnson, clerk, processed the bills and mistakenly entered last month's due date. Merlene also blamed Johnson for the delay in getting the agendas to the alderpersons in a timely fashion. Winston suggested referring to the water bill as city services bill because it contains charges for several services. Winston addressed the board. He and Kathleen Bogle will select a citizen that will be featured as the "Citizen of the Month" in her Sunday column.
The board voted to approve the month of January, 2015 unpaid claims. General fund $71,711.49 and WSOM $30,256.90. Alderman Quincy Rogers had stepped out prior to this agenda item. All were in favor of this motion with Alderwoman Cora Rogers voting no. Prior to Alderman Rogers coming back into the board room, Tommy Dukes asked to amend the agenda and establish a rule that "if an alderperson vote against approving the claims docket, they will not get paid." I know we're dealing with the new Jim Crow but is Dukes so obtuse that he would suggest imposing a modern day poll tax on an elected official that didn't vote the way they wanted them to vote. The motion was seconded by Jay McGraw. By then, Alderman Rogers interjected, saying no law exist that would make that possible. What Dukes proposed and got seconded by McGraw is nothing but political extortion and he was stupid enough to put that on record. As a person that went to an integrated school, he should know better. Apologies. Apparently he doesn't know any better and our attorney sat there like a lump on the log and Dukes tried to get a resolution passed that would force a person to vote yes or have your money stopped. Our attorney remained quiet but just a few months ago, he argued that the mayor had the right to refuse to break a tie but he's going to investigate to see if a favorable vote could be extorted by withholding pay. In other words, they're going to see if they can knock those who aren't comfortable with the accuracy of the unpaid claims docket over the head and put them down in the n***er hole. Not surprisingly, there were residents of Candyland in the audience that actually thought this was a good idea. Prior to this moment, the meeting was actually going well. Next, the motion to approve the paid claims docket of January, 2015 passed; $129,651.59 from general fund and $23,472.80 from WSOM. The board approved payroll for January, 2015; $24,549.79 general fund and $10,809.45 WSOM. The board approved city clerk, Merlene Wall, to attend budgey training class with BBI on February 12-13, 2015 in Flowood, MS for a cost of $1,282.21 for hotel, per diem, mileage and class. So, next month, we shouldn't have anymore budget excuses. The board closed the meeting and went into executive srssion.
Winston amended the agenda to hold a public hearing to re-zone the insurance building next to Lumberton Farm and Garden for manufacturing. According to Winston, a rebarb bending company want to set up their business on one of the main streets of Lumberton. The unnamed company will allegedly employ two or three employees. Please keep in mind, spot zoning is illegal. Personally, I don't think there is a company but this is another way for Winston to get the zoning changed so he and his business partners can raise the price of their land. There's property all over Lumberton zoned for manufacturing. Why would you want to put a scrap metal company on a main street? What's the point in cleaning the city if we're going to store junk at every entrance? Crider also had the agenda amended to use Wood-Hinton Park for a car show. The board gave a report after exiting executive session. See the video. As I stated in an earlier post, the department heads of city hall allegedly campaigned to have Judge Pittman terminated. Per their alleged request, Pittman was terminated and Anderson was hired. There's going to be a big fallout over this decision and you can thank your police chief and board for this move backwards. Guess I better read up on antiquated state laws and you should too. There was some changes in the police department but what's the point in going over the details. If the head is dirty, the body is in the mud. The videos from tonight's meeting are ready to view on the Lumberton Informer Facebook page.