Review of March 19, 2014 Special Call Meeting

There was a 3:00 pm meeting at city hall. I generally don't attend meetings held in the middle of the day but since I was off, I decided to see what was going on. Despite a bum knee,I hobbled to the meeting. Since Merlene wants to classify me as a thuggish brute that she's fearful of, I decided to use a walker to assist me into the board room. I know I could have used crutches or a cane but they're not as visually impactful as a walker sans the tennis balls. As I was making my way out of city hall, I was behind Danny Davis who, not surprisingly, attempted to close the door on me. There were a few citizens in the audience and Tommy Dukes was not at the meeting.

First on the agenda was to allow Mr. Russell Heidelberg to address the board. Heidelberg addressed the board for over an hour. He gave details about a SEC program that could be used to help Lumberton recover fiscally. From what was shared, the program involves perferred stock instruments and commercial banking practices to help develop a line of credit/revenue for the City of Lumberton. I must admit, after sitting through the question and answer section, I'm still unsure of the process. However, I didn't see where it would cost anything to give this program a shot. Since I'm always blamed when the city looses an opportunity, legitimate or not, I will sit back and see if the board embrace this opportunity. To Mr. Heidelberg's credit, he passed the Google check and unlike others that promised to help Lumberton, he actually returned after being Googled.

One thing Heidelberg said that peaked the interest of the mayor and board was the fact that the program can be used to provide the $625,000 needed for the Army Corp of Engineers grant. I find it problematic that the board continues to say they received the grant and they're actually composing a wish list on how they're going to spend the grant money. Please note, the Army Corp of Engineers grant was offered to Lumberton not awarded to Lumberton. In order to accept the grant, the City of Lumberton must pay the 25% matching funds in the amount of $625,000. Next on the agenda was to hire an intern from USM to assist the city clerk. Alderwoman at Large Cora Rogers contacted USM about a non-paid internship and presented a job description to the career office. If approved, an assistant would intern in Lumberton, free of charge. Unfortunately, one alderman was concerned that the intern could not be bonded to work in city hall. I had to do a double take. Did I hear him correctly? Didn't this same group allow Richard Rose access to all of our records without getting bonded. As a matter of fact, there's no minutes showing Rose was actually hired; just a canceled check showing he was paid. Mayor Winston wanted to let the city attorney review this matter but Alderwoman Rogers wanted a vote since she already completed the steps needed to get an intern. The vote was tied regarding the hiring of a free intern; Crider and McGraw voted no and Rogers and Rogers voted yes. Winston refused to break the tie vote.

Next on the agenda was to hire Ms. Lanell Butler as part time help for city hall at a rate of $8.50/hour for four days a week. When I saw this on the agenda, I immediately had a problem since Betty Speights has been an employee for year and her hours were cut in half for budgetarty reasons but they now have money to hire an additional employee and give her more hours than a current employee. Kent Crider and Quincy Rogers asked where was the money since this position was not in the budget. Merlene said she needed help and asked the board to amend the budget for this position to be filled. Wowzers! The gall of this woman. She can't do this job but she's more than willing to spend taxpayers money so she can sit in the office all day. It's going to be interesting to see how the votes on this matter change at the next meeting. I guess Merlene will have to put on the charm to sway the votes in her favor. We'll see which alderpersons are into dust busting when this matter is presented at the next meeting. I don't know why it's so difficult for her to master this job; she's been city clerk for over 2 years. I would say she's spending too much time reading my blog but maybe she gave up snooping for Lent. Probably not. Last on the agenda was to purchase one model 282727 tow behind sprayer from Northern Tool in the amount of $1,299.99 plus shipping for the Public Works Department. The measure passed, not surprisingly, and the meeting was adjourned.

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