Breland claims public boards stacked against precincts 2, 4

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

By Jesse Wright

Picayune Item

Picayune City Councilmember Larry Breland had some criticism Tuesday at the council meeting after his nominee for the housing authority board was voted down.

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Donald Bowles resigned from the board, and Breland nominated Mary Cassie Martin Bolden, a nurse, to replace him. However, only Mayor Ed Pinero, Lynn Bumpers and Breland voted in favor of Bolden and Wayne Gouguet, Janice Miller Stevens and Tammy Valente voted against her appointment.

At that point, Gouguet nominated J.P. Burns Jr., a former city manager and engineering consultant to the council. Pinero, Gouguet, Stevens and Valente voted for him, while Bumpers and Breland voted against. 

Later in the meeting, Breland, speaking from a prepared statement, pointed out that many of the residents who live in Housing Authority units—subsidized housing—live in precinct 4, and yet there are no Housing Authority board members from that precinct. In addition, Breland said “90 percent” of the nominees from precinct 4—his precinct—and precinct 2—Bumpers’ precinct—are rejected by the majority of the board.

“We have about 12 boards in the city,” he said. “There are about 50 people that are nominated by this council on those boards. It’s about 13 people on those boards that come from district 2 and 4. And that’s wrong. It’s legally right, but it’s morally wrong.”

Breland went on to say that the absence of anyone from precinct 4 on the Housing Authority board is tantamount to “taxation without representation.”

“We don’t have anyone on the board to represent the majority of the people who are living in that project,” he said.

However, Breland did make clear that none of his remarks were meant to be taken as an attack on Burns, whom he said he personally likes.

Also during the meeting, the council voted to declare the week of Sept. 17 to 26 as “Constitution Week” at the behest of the Picayune Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The council passed its consent agenda without comment and most of the new business was passed without comment, although a request from Ted Strain for the city to annex part of his property on Matthews Road did lead to some discussion, mainly about the procedure.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer said the whole process would be relatively cheap as it is a voluntary annexation, although the city would still need to pay legal fees for an attorney to file the annexation paperwork with the chancery court.

It’s not clear yet whether the city will need to provide any utility services to the property once it is annexed, but Pinero said the move, which will give additional property tax dollars to the city of Picayune, will also be good for Strain.

“Mr. Strain is going to benefit from zoning more than anybody else. It will limit what can be put next to him,” the mayor said.

The board also voted to hold public hearings on various properties for clean up. The hearing will be at the next city meeting. 

And the council also heard from some residents of the Teddy Lane subdivision who are concerned the developer who owns the land is going to sell lots to people who are not retirees.

Council member Valente suggested the residents get a petition going and bring the matter up with the developer.

The city council accepted all planning commission decisions and also approved a ground lease agreement between the city and G4 LLC for the airport.

The next city meeting will be Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.