After watching the latest Hammond City Council meeting, I am very confused and troubled by the behavior of some of the councilpersons and the manner of the way the meetings are taking place due to the lack of leadership, professionalism, and or lack of knowledge when it comes to leading a meeting.
You can watch the meeting for yourself on YouTube. Just google the City of Hammond, LA YouTube Channel 10/12/2021.
By the way, another person resigned from the city on this night due to the actions at this meeting. How many more people will have to quit due to the unprofessionalism of some.
So help me try to understand this.... after multiple meetings and discussions about urgent sewer issues in District 3. The city identified $750,000 from excess sales tax to start fixing the issue, and in April 2021, Councilman Wells, who represents District 3 “tables” the issue, so that stops the project. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, when something is tabled, that item must be noted when it will be brought back up for discussion in the future no more than 90 days from the time it is tabled. It cannot be “tabled” with no action forever.
Move forward to the budget meetings in June. Councilman Wells of District 3 was part of the budget meetings along with the other council representatives, and the details were discussed not only appropriating $750,000 for the District 3 issue, but even more money was added to get started on the sewer issues in District 3 and fix sewer problems all over the city so that all people being impacted by sewer issues can get help. The budget was approved, and the work got started to begin fixing the issue by Spangler Engineering.
At the council meeting on Oct. 12, Councilman Wells was upset that the city is working on fixing the sewer issue and that this item is not on “hold” because he “tabled” it. Remember, he was in the budget meetings where this was discussed, and he voted to approve the budget that included the $750,000 plus to start fixing the issue, but somehow the administration is “playing games” by moving forward with resolving the issue that the money was approved to do so in the budget that the council approved. The funds in the budget not only work on things in District 3 but the rest of the city has items that need to be addressed. After all, the funds of the city are not meant to be for only one district alone.
The constant meeting disruptions have gotten worse and have to stop. The president of the city council must control the meetings in a manner that follows the parliamentary rules of a meeting so that things are done in order and action items are taken properly.
Many of the questions and discussions that are taking place at the council meeting should be taking place in committee meetings or just getting answered prior to the council meetings so that the business of the city can move forward at the official council meeting.
Councilman Wells tries to paint a picture of District 3 residents not getting a fair amount of city funds to help their quality of life; however, the amount of money that has been spent in the area (within walking distance) that impacts the citizens of District 3 over the past 10 years is millions of dollars. All the funds may not be within the immediate boundary lines of District 3 but definitely impact the residents of District 3. Remember, district lines are only in place to establish voting districts but everything in the city limits of Hammond matters.
Off the top of my head, I can point out new restrooms at Mooney Park, a new pavilion with a basketball court at Mooney Park, a splash park at Mooney Park, roads being blacktopped, drainage canals being cleared and reinforced with rock sidewalls, the new playground equipment at Zemurray Park, new bathrooms at Zemurray Park, pond renovation at Zemurray Park, stocking the pond at Zemurray Park, the workout area at Zemurray Park, recreation center upgrades at the Michael J. Kenny Center, a generator at the rec center, the new three-plus-million dollar swimming pool at Zemurray Park, the skate park, the Hammond Square additions to name a few things that just come to mind.
Now there are millions of dollars that are in the capital outlay plan to be spent on upgrading the sewer system and drainage in the city, including District 3 going forward. All of these items may not be in the boundary lines of District 3, but they definitely impact those residents because the city is not JUST District 3, and the council people work for the city as a whole, not just their single districts.
At the end of the meeting on Oct. 12, when the administration had enough of the verbal abuse and nothing getting done after three-plus hours, they left the meeting, and Councilman Wells stated that they do not need to be there anyway because it’s a “council” meeting. Again, failure of following Roberts Rules of Order allowed this meeting to get out of control and not productive.
I understand that a councilperson is elected to represent the people that live in that district; however, the residents of District 3 need to evaluate what is truly happening and why the council representative of District 3 is slowing down the progress of fixing the issues that have been brought up, and solutions have been discussed and action taken. This is not an overnight fix, and it will take time and teamwork to get it done.
The citizens of Hammond want a council that works together to solve problems and improve and protect the quality of life of ALL CITIZENS. They have to quit with the constant council versus the administration behavior. The city is blessed to have a positive cash flow even through the pandemic and the additional funds that are being sent from the state and federal coffers.
Don’t be distracted by the disruption of some of the people on this council. Look around and see that despite this, the city of Hammond is growing, and things are getting done.
Disruptions get nothing done!! Get to work and stop all the other stuff. President Andrews and any future council presidents, please use Robert’s Rules of Order and get back to the work of the city.
Where is the leadership of our Hammond City Council president? We need him desperately!