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First City Council meeting of 2020: Here is what you need to know

Will Phillips

Minden Press-Herald

The first City Council Meeting of 2020 will take place on Monday, Jan. 6, and while it may be a new year, the Council still has some issues leftover from 2019 to resolve. 

First of all, the Council will need to adopt the minutes of the past three months’ worth of meetings. 

The back-up of adopted minutes is a result of a disagreement about the minutes for the Nov. 4 meeting. The issue has been brought up before, but to summarize, after the walkout that occurred during that meeting, the council meeting officially ended. However, unofficially, the Mayor and remaining councilmen still chose to recognize those that helped with the National Night Out event. Doing so was also an item on the agenda, so Councilmen Herbert Taylor, Terika Williams Walker, and Vincen Bradford have all since voiced their concerns that city business was handled outside of the council meeting. 

Since then, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has issued an opinion on whether or not Louisiana’s Open Meeting Laws were violated. This was their response. 

“Our office has received your formal response to our inquiry regarding an alleged violation of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law, Complaint 19-0019. We have completed our review of the allegation. 

“Our office’s enforcement power pertaining to allegations of the Open Meetings Law is limited to La. RS. 42:11, et seq. Our authority to act in regards to any open meetings violation may be exercised only upon a verifiable factual basis. After considering the circumstances included in both the original complaint and the information the Council submitted, we have determined that the Open Meetings Law was followed and no violation occurred. Therefore, there is insufficient cause for the Attorney General’s Office to institute enforcement proceedings under the Open Meetings Law. This letter serves as notice that this office does not intend to take any further action at this time in this matter for the reasons stated above,” the letter from the Attorney General’s Office read. 

When this statement was addressed at the last City Council Meeting, Bradford responded by saying, “That’s his opinion,” with Taylor adding, “I have my own opinion. Why would his opinion override my opinion?”

City Attorney Charles Minnifield has also sent the council a recommendation stating the auditors require that the council minutes of each meeting be adopted and recommended that they adopt the previous months’ minutes in the Jan. regular session. 

When this was brought up at the Dec. 30 workshop, Taylor responded, “Like I said, my opinion matters,” later saying, “I’m just one-fifth of the vote.”

The council will also be voting Councilman Vincen Bradford as the Mayor Pro Tempor for the Year 2020, who was also the Tempor for last year because of him being the senior Council Member. The Tempor will fill in as Mayor when Terry Gardner is absent. 

The Council will also consider accepting the REC Center Booster Club, review the bylaws, and make any necessary changes. This decision was come to at the recent workshop as well, where Joel Gray, President of the booster club, recommended that they formally accept the booster club, and then change any bylaws that they would like. 

In the workshop, Gardner summarized by saying, “So we’ll adopt the booster club that in place and then y’all will review the by-laws.” 

“And make the necessary changes,” added Councilman Walker.

As a separate item on the agenda, the council will also be officially voting on whether or not to remove to a memorial sign at the Minden REC Center, which has been a topic of debate in the council for the past few months. 

The REC Center started a booster club to raise funds for the REC Center. One of the incentives for people to donate was to put their names or the names of businesses on signs and fields after people who donate. Councilman Pam Bloxom donated $40,000 for a fence at the REC Center and her late husband, former Minden Chief of Police, T.C. Bloxom’s name was put on a memorial field.

Councilmen Vincen Bradford, Herbert Taylor, and Terika Williams-Walker referenced Section 13 in the Charter of the Code of Ordinances in the City of Minden to say that the booster club didn’t have the authority to do so without the council’s approval. Since then, the sign has been a topic of discussion in many meetings and workshops.

These agenda items and more will be discussed at the next Minden City Council meeting, taking place Jan. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at Minden City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.