I spent hours Tuesday night listening over and over to videos of Hazlehurst City Council meetings held Thursday, Dec. 13, and Monday, Dec. 17. I am baffled.
First off, I found out about last Thursday’s meeting Monday morning through a phone call from freelance reporter Mary Ann Anderson who filled in for me for eight years while I was serving on the City Council.
She has continued to cover those meetings for me to give me some breathe time between serving and reporting on the council’s meetings.
When Mary Ann called me Monday morning and told me the council had met last Thursday, I was not happy. This newspaper, as the county’s legal organ, is by law required to be notified of ALL city council meetings. So I immediately realized that the city council had conducted an illegal meeting.
I quickly picked up the telephone and called city hall to deliver the truth that any action taken at Thursday’s meeting was invalid and unenforceable. I was told the council did not take any action.
But Tuesday morning, I learned that the council at its Monday work session rescinded its actions Thursday. Supposedly no action was taken but they rescinded the action that they didn’t take???
Tuesday evening, City Clerk Vernice Lopez delivered to my home CDs containing the videotapes of the Thursday and Monday meetings. I could hardly wait to look at them.
Here’s what I learned:
Thursday the council voted to instruct City Attorney Natasha Bennett to prepare the necessary paperwork for the council to cash in $200,000 worth of water and sewer department CDs to purchase Dr. Sidney Johnson’s office building next to the police department.
Monday, presumably because this newspaper had not been notified of Thursday’s meeting, Bennett explained a resolution she had prepared nullifying action taken in November and also to nullify a decision made Thursday to cash in the two CDs, a decision that was not made Thursday. The council adopted the resolution, so they agreed to nullify an action that had not been taken in the first place.
Watching the tapes I felt so sorry for council members Eric Griffin and John Ramay who asked reasonable questions of the mayor and, for the life of me, I didn’t see much of an answer in the answers they got.
Explaining this to a friend I was asked, “Don’t you wish your were still on the council.” Guess what my answer was.