Council still divided on board appointments

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The division within Picayune’s City Council continued Tuesday as a petition presented to the council to ensure even representation on city boards died for a lack of majority.
The petition was a continuation of Councilor Larry Breland’s contention over the past couple of months that Districts II and IV don’t have the amount of representation on the various council appointed boards as some other districts.
Instead of Breland presenting the matter, it was done by Rev. Brian Dees, who said he had collected 596 signatures. The petition asked the council to pass or consider an ordinance to be put in place that would ensure equitable division of nomination on boards of which the council makes appointments, Dees said.
The petition also requested that the city manager act on the petition within 30 days. While the agenda did not clarify what action was required of the city manager, Dees clarified to say that all they were asking was that the city manager conduct research into the matter. Dees added that while he could not say exactly how many of the names on the petition were registered voters, he estimated most of them are registered.
Breland then requested that the council come together and asked why he and councilor Lynn Bogan Bumpers were not provided the same opportunities to make appointments to boards as the other council members.
Mayor Ed Pinero said that Breland was forgetting that Councilors Tammy Valente and Janice Miller Stevens’ had the least representation from their respective districts on the boards, even less than the districts Breland and Bumpers represent.
Gouguet said that Breland did successfully make a recent appointment on the Picayune School Board.
“Now you’re’ coming back and complaining because I got too many people on the school board,” Gouguet said.
Valente said her last appointment, Dr. Lori Blackmer, who lives in Gouguet’s district.
“I didn’t even know where she lives and I’m the one who nominated her,” Valente said.
At that point the council continued their divided discussion, for a short time until it was called for a vote. Voting for acceptance of the petition were Pinero, Bumpers and Breland. Voting against were Gouguet, Valente and Stevens, meaning the matter died for a lack of a majority vote.
Later in the meeting Breland and Dees both expressed discontent with the lack of cooperation from the council. Breland said Tuesday was one of his saddest days serving on the council, because he felt the other council members had closed a door on and disrespected the constituents in Districts II and IV. He added that while the city’s logo includes the terminology “New South, Old Charm,” he feels there is still a system of segregation in the integrated system.
In other action the council approved changes to the city’s water rate structure. For details on the rate changes, see Thursday’s Item.

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