City council reschedules after illegal meeting
by Briana Webster
Apr 16, 2014 | 1347 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARBON HILL — Members of the Carbon Hill City Council voted on a few issues Monday night but realized shortly after that all votes and discussions were null and void.

A special called meeting was held illegally Monday at the council’s chambers, led by mayor James “Pee Wee” Richardson. All members of the council were present with the exception of District 3 council member Terry Mason and District 5 council member Suzanne Atkins, who appeared directly after the so-called meeting adjourned.

According to the Alabama Open Meetings Act, Section 3 (b), “Unless otherwise specified by law directly applicable to the governmental body, notice of a meeting ... shall be posted as soon as practicable after the meeting is called and in no event less than 24 hours before the meeting is scheduled to begin ...” 

Members discussed and voted to allow male inmates in the city’s jail to work with Allen May, head of the street department, on picking up litter on the roadsides and working at the city’s swimming pool as long as May and/or a police officer is present.

District 2 council member Jack Dunn made the motion to dismiss the city’s current attorney Charles Stephens Jr. and hire attorney Steven Thomas in place of Stephens. Dunn said the motion was made due to not being able to get in touch with Stephens when necessary.

Richardson said the city council would first have to end the contract with Charles Stephens Jr. Dunn replied, saying the city didn’t have a contract with Stephens. Richardson then explained the next step would be dismissing Stephens as the city’s attorney and then hiring Thomas as his replacement.  

All agreed to pay Thomas $160 an hour, which was the same amount Stephens worked for in representing the city, and voted with Richardson abstaining from the vote. Thomas accepted the position.

Shortly after voting, another topic of discussion was going to be brought to the council’s attention by District 4 council member Mark Chambers; however, when Chambers was about to make a motion to go into executive session, Richardson said they couldn’t.

“You have to give a 24-hour notice in writing, posted. ... We discussed the workshop [at the last regular meeting], but this is not a workshop. So, this one right here [the council meeting] is really not legal,” Richardson said.

He then asked if a notice was posted, and city clerk Janice Pendley said, “No, we just called everyone and told them.” 

Mayor pro tem James “Jimbo” Bray Jr., after noticing there was no posting about a meeting, said “It was supposed to be posted. I didn’t know that it wasn’t.”

The council agreed to reschedule the meeting for today at 5 p.m. in the council’s chambers. Richardson said the council will go through the same agenda, with the possibility of adding more items, discuss the items and then vote, making it a legal meeting.