Review of the November 3, 2015 Board Meeting: The Orange is the New Black Edition

For a moment, I thought there wasn’t going to be a meeting. The clerk was not in the board room but as Tommy Dukes, Cora Rogers and Kent Crider entered city hall, they went directly to the clerk’s office by-passing the board room. Was there a meeting before the meeting? Alderman Quincy Rogers came in the board room and then the rest came in one by one. Ben Winston was not there because he was either trying to bail his friend Jay McGraw out of jail for stealing….AGAIN or the most logical reason, he was at the voting precinct trying to garner more votes. In his absence, the board members seemed confused about starting the meeting. Alter woman at large, Cora Rogers finally called the meeting to order. Interestingly, she has been on the board for two years and was looking at the agenda like a calf looking at a new gate. In other words, she was totally lost. She was so slow and it took almost 30 minutes to address one agenda item because she didn’t understand what was being asked. I was thinking to myself, if these people have to explain this matter to Cora Rogers until she has a full understanding, we will be here when Jesus returns.

The first agenda item was to approve the Christmas Parade for the LES PTO for Tuesday, December 8, 2015. There was an order to allow Mrs. Mary Ball to speak to the board about putting white Christmas lights on the crepe myrtles along Main Street for Christmas. It was also noted that Mike from Lumberton Farm and Garden was repairing the angels and they will be put on the poles during the holidays as well. There was an order to vote on the Mayoral Proclamation or Resolution creating the City of Lumberton’s Office of Emergency Management. This was the agenda item that seemed self-explanatory but Cora Rogers and Tommy Dukes had a problem comprehending what was going on. It was like Ray Charles trying to tell Stevie Wonder how to a diagram of the Brooklyn bridge.

There were several changes discussed regarding the 2014 CDBG Sewer Improvement Grant and an order to approve the 2016 FAA-AIP Pre-Application to send to the FAA and MDOT. Most of us know what pre means but again, Tommy Dukes and Cora Rogers were confused and needed more information. There was an order to pay the Columbia Law Enforcement Training Bill for Officer J Parkman to maintain his certification as an instructor. Tommy Dukes had a problem with this matter because it was not presented to the board. After two years of serving as an elected official, he cannot comprehend the fact that the Chief of Police can authorize up to $500 in training because it’s within her budget. I guess he’s focused on more important things like security cameras that were never budgeted. There was a motion to increase Deputy Court Clerk Betty Speights hours from 20 hours per week to 32 hours per week (the same number of hours they provided to Melissa Nightingale who was hired after Betty Speights) but the matter failed because no one would second Quincy Rogers motion to get a vote on this matter.

There was an order to pay Melissa Nightingale worker’s compensation backpay in the amount of $464 for wees 3/6/14, 3/12/14 and 8/28/14. It was stated that it was per the instructions of Hazel Reeves but those of us that know the levels of dishonesty that’s present within certain offices know that it’s probably a reward for that fictitious testimony that was rendered under oath. I think Jay McGraw was given a similar reward last year when they found a clause that allowed him to get paid over $700 to be a grant administrator. Keep in mind that former city clerk, Stephanie Mullings, never received any additional funds for administering grants. Department heads gave their reports. I will post the video later. By this time, Winston made it to the meeting and he gave an address. He said the Army Corp of Engineer Grant is still on the table but now he’s saying that the Army Corp of Engineers are waiting to get the money to process the grant. I don’t know how many more times this story is going to change but thanks to his failure to win the District 2 Supervisor’s race, he has at least two more years to change the story or resign. I’m hoping for the latter.

The unpaid claims for October 20015 were : $19,803.15 for general fund and $79,410.96 for WSOM. The paid claims for October 2015 were : $165,859.01 for general fund and $77,600.29 for WSOM. Payroll for the month of October 2015 was $35,261.42. The minutes for October 6, 2015 and October 13, 2015 meetings were approved. The following water deposit refunds were approved: Brittnay Thomas $150.00, Kyle Turner $87.15, Megan Headley $19.55, Jacquelin Adams $50.00, Sherry Russell $113.65, Kio Travis $103.65, Jessica Lowrey $59.05, and Janie Sibley $17.15. Tommy Dukes asked why they were getting refunds and wanted to know if they were moving; not that it was any of his business. However, it was stated that these people are leaving Lumberton and I know a few of them and they’re not leaving Lumberton. I guess some people lie as effortlessly as they breathe. Instead of saying they didn’t know, they decided to give the easy answer.

Now here’s an interesting part of the meeting. It seems they are trying to put the money they’ve taken from WSOM back into the proper account. There was a motion to transfer to the WSOM account water bills paid from closed accounts $4,778.55. This was something I never heard of in all my years of attending board meetings. It was explained that this will happen monthly and it’s because the money paid for water deposits should be in placed in WSOM. What? I thought water deposits were stored in a separate account but what do I know, I just attended meetings for over 14 years. Sarcasm intended. There was an order to discuss to approve the municipal questionnaire. Quincy Rogers wanted to see the questionnaire since none of the board members were given a copy and to his surprise, it was already filled out. They tabled the matter so the board members can review the questionnaire.

The board voted to send the city clerk to another training class at a cost of $753.55. The board also voted to accept a contract with South Ms. Business Machines for the copiers at city hall and the police department, $1,413.60/year and $1,276.80/year respectively. The contract is for three years. It was interesting to know they pay .012/per copy but citizens are charged .25/per copy. There was an order to terminate part-time police officers Michael Decelle and Michael S. Flynt. Later in executive session, it was stated that Officer Guy Serrin resigned as a full time officer. Again, we are losing good police officers while the unsavory officers are embraced. There was an order to pay the last installment on the 10 year contract with Utility Service Company in the amount of $27,310.52. Now that the final payment is due, there are claims that the contract has not been fulfilled and the board does not want to submit the payment. More than likely, the money is not available so they’re trying to get out of paying another bill and will probably end up in court or have another lien on our taxes for failure to pay for services rendered.

Alderman Quincy Rogers gave a motion on all of the following but the board refused to hire any additional police officers. The first motion, to hire Tiffany McClure received a second but the motion to hire Delando Watts and Victor DeVila failed to get a second. The board voted to approve Chief Cowart to apply for occupant protection grant. The board went into executive session, citizens comments were offered and the meeting was adjourned.

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