Council ponders town hall-type meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2004

After the last Selma City Council meeting went a marathon five hours, Monday night’s meeting clocked in at a brisk two hours.

Without Mayor James Perkins Jr. on hand, the Council touched on several subjects, including the perceived relationship problems between the council and the mayor.

Because Perkins was out of town, Council President George Evans said he held back a few things he would have said if the mayor had been able to attend.

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However, Evans said the council might consider holding a public forum to set the record straight.

“I hear so many other things in the community I wish you could hear what I hear,” Evans said. “My concern is there is too many false things out there, the council is working against the mayor and that’s not the issue. I would like to really have a meeting for the citizens right here to allow them to tell me what’s going on.”

Perkins, who apparently knew the council would address the matter, told his administrative assistant Sheri James his feelings.

“The mayor did give me three pointers in case this did come up,” James said. “He did not feel like the council chambers was the place to view anything that’s been said on the campaign trail. He doesn’t feel like you should do it here in the council chambers.”

Councilman James Durry agreed with Evans that the problem needs to be discussed.

“I think we need put it out on the table so they can see both sides of everything so Durry said. “There is some truth out there that has not been said yet.”

Evans said he felt like the campaign had brought the issue to the forefront, but it is something that needs to be dealt with.

“Some people are being misled to some extent,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of bad information a lot of false information. I would like to face that.”

James reiterated that Mayor Perkins felt like it was inappropriate to deal with campaign issues in the council.

“He told me he disagreed with any type of public forum on anything talking about what’s been said while you’re out there campaigning,” James said.

Durry said the problem goes back further than that.

“Two years ago we were getting this kind of stuff,” he said. “I think it’s true in some way that we need to counteract that negative feeling.”

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell supported Evans’s idea. She suggested the media could provide a forum for the council members to tell their side.

“Maybe the newspaper can provide us a medium to tell the other side to the public,” Sewell said. “Because we surely have not had a report out to the public.”

The council also heard an update, of sorts, from SPD Sgt. Jimmy Martin on the general services investigation.

Martin said the investigation is ongoing at this time and to protect the investigation, the department would not divulge more information at this time.

“We do not want to jeopardize our progress we have made,” Martin said. The council requested an executive session meeting last week for a full update.

“This investigation has been going on for eight months, nine months,” Evans said. “We definitely need something more than we heard, some kind of report as to the status.”

“We need to know where we are,” councilwoman Rita Sims-Franklin said. “I think we need some of the details and get in depth.”

Evans pointed out that based on the original information the city took action against a former employee and the council needs to be updated.

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell made a motion requesting a detailed conference and progress report in executive session at the next meeting.

The motion passed unanimously.

“I just feel as legislators we made some decisions that have a rippling effect,” Sewell said of the actions the council has taken.

The Council also heard:

A report from City Attorney Jimmy Nunn on preparing a packet of campaign laws for the first-term members of the council.

An update from Nunn on the status of the sale of the restaurant at the city marina.

Evans told the crowd that the city is accepting suggestions for a Beautification Committee Chairperson.

An update on the Central Alabama Animal Shelter.

Discussion on the possible use of oil lease money to buy the city a new bug sprayer.

An update from Sewell on the Reading is Fun program that took place last week.

Resolutions from Perkins: The first to allow City Clerk Lois Williams to assume the mayor’s election duties because state law mandates that if the mayor is running in the election, he cannot fulfill those duties. The resolution passed.

The second to move funds from the E-911 repairs not covered account to the fire department’s promotional exam account.

The move will cover a mandated change in the department from the state.

The funds moved will be $24,500.

A resolution of support for the families of the three dead police officers in Birmingham.

Proposed resolution honoring James Gildersleeve.

An update from Helen Jones on the status of possible inequities in carry-over holiday pay between the fire and police departments.

A discussion of grass mowing and trimming around the city.

The need for a $2,700 water tank and trailer to service city plants and shrubberies not located downtown.

The Fourth of July Celebration planned for Sunday night.

Complaints about the number of campaign signs on trees, telephone poles and public property.