Controversial ordinances each get a single read

Any hopes that a new residency requirement ordinance might be acted upon at Monday night’s Pine Bluff City Council meeting were quickly dashed, and an effort to acquire a decision on Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s proposed new parks and recreation commission roster fell hard.

There was a sense that a number of constituents who have grown tired of the residency restriction controversy concerning city department heads were trusting that a compromise ordinance sponsored by Alderman Steven Mays might be pushed through to completion, but the measure wound up being challenged for just its initial reading.

Alderman Glen Brown protested the legislation, of which corrected “hard copies” were distributed to council members just before the session. Brown’s appeal was largely dismissed, however, as Assistant City Attorney Joe Childers explained that aldermen, Hollingsworth and the media had been sent corrected versions electronically last week.

Brown then began stumping against the bill, saying, “If you love Pine Bluff, you want to keep everyone in Pine Bluff.”

Hollingsworth rapped her gavel and advised Brown he was out of order. She said the issue wasn’t “up for discussion” since the measure hadn’t received a second reading. Brown began to voice disagreement, but then apologized and said, “I stand corrected.”

The ordinance was referred to the administration committee — which is chaired by Alderman George Stepps — for additional consideration. The panel will discuss the matter at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the mayor’s conference room.

Before Monday’s meeting, the ordinances and resolutions committee split in a decision to expedite the parks commission legislation to a vote as its prescribed service terms are to start on June 1. Aldermen Bill Brumett and Wayne Easterly moved to advance the matter while Stepps resisted.

Brown questioned the legality of the ordinance, saying that it named Hollingsworth’s nine candidates instead of simply establishing service terms by position numbers. Brown said names are typically placed within resolutions to avoid confusion or conflict when terms expire.

Childers agreed, but said the ordinance in this instance was a “restart” from previous legislation and he formulated the measure as he did to make this issue clearer.

Alderwoman Thelma Walker questioned the legal address of one of the nominees, who was not immediately identified, and Brown said he felt “some corrections” were necessary. Walker said she needed some “confirmations” before she could vote on the proposal.

“I think we would be better served to read this once and put it on the calendar,” said Stepps.

Hollingsworth reluctantly agreed after voicing her disappointment.

The mayor seeks to have Christopher Blunt, Duke Fakouri, Carson Fields, Fabian Fontenot, Jonathan Frazier, Krandon Henry, Kami Mays Hunt, Jeffrey Pulliam and Roy Tolson appointed to the commission.