School board members selected

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2005

John Williams and Dr. Kirit Chapatwala were reappointed to the Selma City School Board via an anonymous ballot last night at the Selma City Council meeting.

The Council, as it did with the appointment of Municipal Judges, gave the candidates numbers and then voted publicly for the candidate’s number, without revealing the candidates names.

Williams was assigned number 2. Chapatwala was assigned number 4.

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The other two candidates, remained unknown as of presstime, were only named as numbers 1 and 3.

Williams received eight out of eight votes from the Council. Chapatwala received five out of eight.

Councilman Sam Randolph is serving with the National Guard and didn’t attend last night’s meeting.

Unknown candidate number 1 didn’t receive any votes. Unknown candidate number 3 received three votes.

Council President George Evans said it wouldn’t require much of an adjustment for the standing members of the school board, or for Williams and Chapatwala.

“They’re serving already,” he said.

The administrative committee said during the interview process last Wednesday that the city didn’t have to reveal the names of the candidates applying to the position.

Councilwoman Geraldine Allen confirmed the point at last night’s meeting.

She told the Council during a discussion of the state’s new Sunshine Law that she checked with the League of Municipalities on the issue before holding interviews.

“As long as we give the names of who won,” she said, “we are within our rights.”

In other business, the Council:

Discussed information on the state’s new Sunshine Law. City Attorney Jimmy Nunn told the Council that he would give them more information in the coming months, as it didn’t take effect until October.

“We will get that to you,” he said.

Nunn said the new law gave the city more power in regards to releasing information.

“It gives a little bit more reasons why we can go into executive session,” he said.

Councilman Cecil Williamson asked Nunn if the new law forbid numbered ballots, like the one used to appoint school board members at last night’s meeting.

“That’s like a secret ballot,” he said.

Nunn disagreed.

“There’s nothing secret about it,” he said. “The minutes are public information.”

Councilman Johnnie Leashore sided with Nunn.

“Why do you want to waste our time debating some frivolous concerns?” he asked Williamson.

Held a mini-health fair, sponsored by the local chapter of the National Nurses’ sorority, Chi Eta Phi. All Council members had their blood pressure checked on site, except for Evans. “I think I’m all right,” he told the nurses.

Sorority president, Jeannie Evans, said she wanted to thank the city during National Nurses’ Week for the support they’ve received from the city, promoting health and wellness.

Was reminded of today’s beautification committee at the Centre for Commerce. The meeting will help coordinate city officials and volunteers to beautify the city. The meeting begins today, Tuesday, May 10, at 10 a.m.

Heard from Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin regarding the city’s problems with noise.

“That’s forever a concern for all of us,” Evans said.

Martin reported that in April, the city responded to 76 noise complaints.

He said he was currently in the process of breaking that information down by ward, and would have the number of citations issued reported in June for the April month.

The Council told Martin they appreciated his efforts to help fight the noise problem.

“This is a priority,” Evans said. “We’re doing everything we can to eliminate noise.”

Heard from Mayor James Perkins Jr. about the layoffs of city employees. Perkins said the city was cutting eight full-time jobs, eight full-time/temporary jobs and four part-time jobs.

The rest of the jobs, lost by combining city departments and roles, are taken care of by “attrition,” Perkins said.

Discussed the problem of dealing with police dispatches outside the city limits, within the police jurisdiction.

In a report issued by Chief Martin, Williamson noted the city was answering “60 percent” of its calls outside the city limits.

Williamson said that only about 14 percent of the city’s revenue was coming from the police jurisdiction area.

“We’re not getting enough money to cover what we’re spending,” he said.

He suggested meeting with county officials to determine whether they could cover more of those calls.

Approved helping the city school system with financing on a $1.2 million bond issue. The system will be using the money to fund a new operations center on Broad Street and make repairs to the Selma High parking lot and the Pickard Auditorium Parking lot.

The city was requested to help with financing the issue, to secure lower interest costs. According to a memo from the firm underwriting the bonds, the resolution from the city will not obligate Selma to pay for the bonds anytime in the future.

Discussed a disagreement between the city and the County EMA Board about the erection of a communications tower adjacent to the E-911 center in a historic section of town. Perkins, and most of the Council, feels the tower violates the city’s historic and zoning ordinances. Brett Howard, Director of the EMA, sent Perkins and Evans a letter disagreeing with the city.

“The Sheriff can and will install the tower at the 911 center,” the letter stated. The letter also noted that the city’s representative on the E-911 board, Fire Chief Henry Allen, signed off on the issue.

Nunn said he spoke with the head of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, Jim Walker, over the weekend.

Nunn told the council that Walker wasn’t willing to get involved in local politics.

“He’s not going to mandate the city of Selma put the tower in that location,” he said.

As far as the letter’s allegation that the E-911 board would lose a $75,000 grant issue, Nunn said Walker told him he would “reappropriate” the funds.

Discussed the situation regarding repairs to Crescent Hill Road and other projects. The city will be entertaining bids on them soon, according to Bill Painter, City Engineer. Painter told the Council that the projects would cost about $250,000 and take almost three months to complete.

Discussed talks with Charter Communications. Nunn told the council that the city was talking with Charter representatives, and expected to hear back from the company soon.

Heard from Nunn about the cost of publishing legal notification of ordinances in The Selma Times-Journal. According to Nunn, the city paid about $25,000 in publication costs for legal announcements. Williamson suggested the city try to publish the legals in the Selma Post Herald. Nunn said he would see if it was possible.

Got an update on the movie production in Selma. Cyprus Moon Productions is filming a movie in the coming weeks, and is renting a building on the corner of Water Avenue and Broad Street to coordinate the 1200 or more extras needed for filming. The city is renting the building to the company for $200.

Listened to Public Works Director Henry Hicks on the progress of the new garbage collection service. Hicks told the city that the program was continuing as planned, although it would probably be Thursday when all the carts are delivered to residences.

“We are picking up 1,500 a day,” he said. “I’ve got to give a big shout out to my folks in General Services.”

Heard an update on the city’s smoking ordinance. According to Nunn, the city didn’t have effective starting dates or enforcement clauses in the original law. The city had to vote to repeal the ordinance, vote again to suspend the rules and then vote in the new ordinance, which had effective dates and enforcement methods.

Passed a resolution to support a death penalty moratorium brought to the city during it’s last meeting by a leadership group from WCCS.

Heard from Sarah Hartman, head of the 122nd National Guard Family Support Group. Hartman requested funds to buy shoes for Iraqi children, as part of an outreach effort to show the community’s support for the 122nd, a Selma-based unit. The group provided school supplies to a group of Iraqi children earlier this year.

To donate shoes or money to the group, call 412-0801.

Heard from Collins Pettaway concerning the city school board and its relationship to the parents of students. Pettaway didn’t have a specific request but wanted to discuss the issue with the Council for support and ideas.

“Us parents want a little more when it comes to our children,” he said. “You do have some people that really do want to help.”