Monroe City Council Minutes
District One District Four
Dr. Raymond A. Armstrong Mr. Kenneth Wilson
District Two District Five
Mrs. Gretchen H. Ezernack Mr. Eddie Clark
Ms. Betty Blakes
CITY OF MONROE, LOUISIANA
Post Office Box 123
Monroe, Louisiana 71210-0123
Phone (318) 329-2252
Fax (318) 329-3416
Minutes for Council Meeting
September 24, 2013
There was a legal and regular session of the City Council of the City of Monroe, Louisiana held this date at the Council's regular meeting place, the Council Chamber, City Hall Building, Monroe, Louisiana.
The Honorable Eddie Clark, Chairman, called the meeting to order. He then asked the clerk to call the roll.
There were present: Council members Dr. Armstrong, Mrs. Ezernack, Ms. Blakes, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Clark.
There were absent: None.
Chairman Clark announced that a quorum was present and that the Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance would be led by Chief Quinton Holmes, Monroe Police Chief.
Chairman Clark proceeded by acknowledging the time for special announcements and/or communications.
Dr. Armstrong stated that he had the opportunity to attend a performance at the Strauss Theatre. He said that he was reminded that Monroe is so rich in the Arts with Theatre, Symphony, Ballet, and Museums. He said that the character of the community is largely defined by the Arts and that we are so blessed and rich with the Arts and that we should be proud of this.
Mrs. Ezernack stated that she attended a very moving MIA and POW ceremony that was held on the city hall grounds. She said that the two monuments at city hall honor those who served the country and she would admonish the public to attend the ceremony next year. She thanked everyone who was involved in the ceremony, because it was moving, very well done and she will attend again.
Ms. Blakes said it was good to see everyone in attendance and thanked everyone for coming out to the Council Meeting.
Mr. Wilson welcomed everyone and the District 4 constituents who were in attendance to the Council meeting. Mr. Wilson offered a thank you to Zach Simmons/Utilities and Patrick Moy for their assistance with the property at 1501 South 8th. He stated that the problem was with the water main and how the problem was taken care of expeditiously. Mr. Wilson mentioned that also at 1501 South 8th a call was placed to Public Works to go out and fill a 2 ½ feet deep hole there that has not been taken care of yet, and hopefully Public Works will get this taken care of soon. Also, Mr. Wilson read a thank you note from Mike Correro of the Boy Scouts to Chief Holmes and the MPD thanking them for their assistance with the La. Purchase Garden Council Boy Scouts 5k Run/Walk. In other communication, Mr. Wilson said he made a call back in June regarding Stone Avenue and South 1st Street and that the sidewalk that was requested to be repaired hasn’t be repaired yet. Mr. Wilson said there are also a lot of work orders on the books that have not been taken care. Mr. Wilson said that he was pleased that Public Works took care of the work on Mississippi Street, but the eyesore at the Lumber Yard (Kitchen Brothers) on Mississippi Street needs to be attended to. He said citizens have called about this location and that the high grass and mosquitoes are a concern to them. Mr. Wilson stated that he had also spoken with Legal (Mrs. Summersgill about this matter).
Mr. Clark thanked the Mayor, Administration and workers for the gym floors that were put down at Benoit. He said that this allows the kids in that area to play basketball in a very safe manner. He stated that Emily P. Robinson would be completed soon. Mr. Clark noted that there was a request to remove from tonight’s agenda until the next meeting the item relating to the Telescopic Bleachers and the repairing of the ceiling inside the gym, reason being is because of a lack of number of received bids. He thanked the Administration and those who were involved in making improvements in South Monroe. Also, Mr. Clark stated that he had adopted an English IV Honor’s Class at Carroll High School and are looking for individuals to volunteer and speak to the students there. He said the students will write a report on what each speaker has said and at the end of the semester the students will be taken on an educational field trip with no expense to the School System. He ended his communication with information on Barkdull Faulk Elementary School stating that they were looking for volunteers to help improve the conditions of that school as well. He asked that volunteers would donate their time to the school. Chairman Clark acknowledged Mr. Wilson for additional remarks.
Mr. Wilson conveyed his thanks to Ms. James on her work with putting together an information sheet on illegal dumping which will go inside the water bills. He also conveyed his thanks to Ms. Benjamin for her assistance on this matter.
Mr. Clark lastly acknowledged Mr. Joe Clawson, Mr. Ross, Mayor Mayo and others for their work at the zoo and showed pictures of the new "state of the art” bathroom at the zoo.
Upon motion of Ms. Blakes, seconded by Dr. Armstrong the minutes of the Legal and Regular Session of September 10, 2013 were unanimously approved as presented. (There were no comments from the public).
Mr. Clark acknowledged a Presentation done by Ms. Jennifer Haneline, MSW, LCSW, Regional Manager, Region 8; The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI). Ms. Haneline explained her reason for being present at council and that being the upcoming vote on the "Smokefree Air Act” Ordinance amendment.
A PowerPoint was presented which entailed information and data about the effects of smoking and second hand smoke. Ms. Haneline guided the presentation with comments relating to the effects of smoking. All comments related to the PowerPoint presentation are available on tape in the City Council’s Office/City Hall and are available between the hours of 8:00am – 5:00 pm, Monday –Friday.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: NONE
4307 South Grand Street (Owners - Brown & Sons Realty LLC & Pearlie Irby) "Notice to Show Cause” was served. Code Enforcement Officer Murphy came forward to show pictures and attest that the structure was unsafe due to it being a burned structure. Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved for the owner to be given 30 days or until October 25, 2013, in which to bring the structures into compliance with the code or demolish the structures and clean the lot. (There were no comments from the public).
3110 Gordon Avenue (Owner - BDT Housing Services) "Notice to Show Cause” was served. Code Enforcement Officer Murphy came forward to show pictures and to say that this property had come before the Council in April, 2013. Officer Murphy said the owners are in Mississippi and the property remains unchanged since April. Officer Murphy stated that it is back again before Council because the legal description was incorrect when it was first presented for condemnation. Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Dr. Armstrong and unanimously approved for the owner to be given 30 days or until October 25, 2013, in which to bring the structures into compliance with the code or demolish the structures and clean the lot. (There were no comments from the public).
ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION OF BIDS:
Upon motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mrs. Ezernack and unanimously approved to pass over this agenda item until the next Council Meeting. Accept the Bid of Insight, Inc. of Ruston, LA for Telescopic Bleachers for the GYM at Emily P. Robinson Community Center Ref # 85-0364 as recommended by the Director of Administration as meeting the specifications of the bid and have been cleared by the Tax & Revenue Division. The estimated cost of this project is $28,950.00 and funds will be derived from the Capital Account. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to accept the Bid of CXT Inc., of Spokane Valley, WA for the new bathrooms at the Louisiana Purchase Zoo in the amount of $65,775 as recommended by the Director of Administration as meeting the specifications of the bid. The Vendor complies with and meets the specifications of the bid. The funds for this expense will be derived from the Zoo Capitol Account, which has a remaining balance of $135,225.34.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and said that she noticed that 3 bids were sent out and could not believe that only 1 (one) bid was received and that someone would be coming from Spokane, Washington to make $65,000 and how was this so.
Mr. Clark asked that Mr. Joe Clawson, come forward and explain how the 1 (one) bid was received. Mr. Joe Clawson, Director of La. Purchase Gardens & Zoo explained that they went out for publicized open bids and that he personally made sure that some local construction companies were given the information. The specs were written up for a modular bathroom. He said 2 bids were received, one from Reno, Nevada and the other from Spokane, Washington. Another vendor from Jennings, Louisiana looked at the bid, this vendor is the one doing the splash pad at the zoo, and this vendor decided that they could not match the design, quality and guarantees of the bathroom bid specs. Mr. Clawson said the bathroom is a modular design and is constructed in a factory for quality control and that it meets all of the ADA compliances, engineering standards and the bathroom comes with a 20 year guarantee. It will be delivered by a semi and is ready for use upon delivery.
RESOLUTIONS AND MINUTE ENTRIES:
Department of Administration:
Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to consider a request from the Purchasing Division, of the Administration Department for authorization from the City Council to advertise for a one hundred eighty (180) day supply contract of Petroleum Products. Funds will be derived from the Inventory Account, which has a balance of $118,623.00 and the divisions will be billed accordingly. (There were no comments from the public).
Department of Planning & Urban Development:
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6132 adopting the Heritage Preservation Commission amended by-laws, rules and procedures and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6133 adopting the Monroe Planning Commission amended by-laws, rules and procedures and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Legal Department: NONE.
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6134 authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor, to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Miss Monroe Scholarship Pageant Organization and further providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley came forward and asked if the amount paid to this Organization was the same as last year. Attorney Summersgill stated that it was $4,000 last year and is $5,000 this year.
Ms. Blakes asked if a representative from the Miss Monroe Scholarship Pageant Organization was present tonight. Ms. Summersgill replied no one was present and that the representative teaches during the day and although she had spoken with her several times she couldn’t get in touch with her about the meeting tonight. Ms. Blakes asked what was this person’s name and Nanci replied it was Gandi and didn’t remember the last name. Mr. Clark asked who was paying the fee to rent the school and Nanci stated the organization was paying the fee.
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6135 authorizing an agreement for services by and between the City of Monroe and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce for the period May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014, and further providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley asked if the money that the City is giving the Monroe Chamber of Commerce used to pay the rent fee at the Civic Center when they have special functions there or do they pay extra. Mrs. Sue Nicholson, Monroe Chamber came forward and said that when they do have events at the Civic Center that they do pay for each event which can number anywhere from 15 or 16 events annually.
Ms. Blakes asked if there was a report given to the Administration from the Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Nicholson said there was and that they had been submitting them quarterly and it was when the contract was higher than it was this year. She said that with the revision of the contract the report is now submitted annually. Ms. Blakes asked that since the Council has to vote on the report, can they get a copy of the report. Ms. Nicholson said certainly, they can provide the last report that was done.
Department of Public Works:
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6136 authorizing the Mayor to execute a Certification of Compliance with conditions of Deed Release on property at the Monroe Air Industrial Park and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Consider a request from the Sewer Division of the Public Works Department for Council approval to purchase off of State Contract one (1) new John Deere Compact Excavator 50G. The estimated cost of this purchase is $54,170.04. Funds for this purchase will be derived the Sewer Capital Account. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Clark and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6137 authorizing James E. Mayo, Mayor of Monroe, to execute the Substantial Completion of the Screen #1 at the Water Pollution Center by and between the City of Monroe and Andritz Separation, Inc. otherwise providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and approved, with Mrs. Ezernack voting no; to Adopt Resolution No. 6138 authorizing the appropriation of $150,000.00 from the Sales Tax Revenue Fund for the Monroe City Council and further authorizing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley said she understood according to the Mayor that the money would be used for lawyers and that he is the one who filed suit against the four Council Members and that she agrees with the Council getting the money.
Dr. Armstrong said the source of the money is coming from the general sales taxes. Typically the city budgets for less than what is collected on sales taxes and sometimes the proceeds from sales taxes is as high as $4 million dollars, this is where the money would come from. Dr. Armstrong continued to give an explanation for the use of the funds, that being, for the use of legal and professional fees to obtain legal counsel for assistance with contracts, agenda items, legal research, etc. Also, the funds would be used for legal counsel for representation for the suit filed by the Mayor; establish and maintain a separate council website, the city already have a website but in researching other cities, Council Members in those cities have their own separate website that would allow the Council to share more information with the citizens in their Districts; increase the Council’s travel budget by $10,000 for 5 Council Members and the 4 staff employees; increase the Council’s supply budget would cover more fliers, etc. we are trying to have more meetings that would keep the public more informed of what their Council Representatives are doing in their districts; increase the Council Staff salaries, that’s a small amount. Increasing the Internal Auditors salary and this is a summary of what it will go for. Ms. Nell Bradley stated that she understands that the passing of this is legal and in the charter. Dr. Armstrong said yes it is. Ms. Bradley said that the Mayor is objecting because it’s usually done at the end of the year and it’s not done the way it is always done. Ms. Nell Bradley said that she supports the Council receiving the funds and thinks that all Council should vote for it.
Ms. Gloria Walker said she doesn’t have a problem with the $150,000 sales tax but that the representation in each district and someone who has come on board and sworn in January and the list that was read off that they (Council) haven’t earned the right yet. They haven’t represented the people, they have represented themselves and they have their own agendas. She is against it because the Council Members are not representing the City of Monroe.
Mrs. Ezernack stated that she thinks that she can’t support it because she was given the list of what it was for three minutes ago. She said this is the same $150,000 that was in the original budget amendment and just because the sales tax collections today, maybe we had a couple of good months and it is usually done at the end of the year because we know what the actual sales tax revenue will be because some months are not as good as other months and some we may not even meet our budget. The travel aspect of it is she doesn’t get it and doesn’t know where Council is going to travel other than the normal thing that they have traveled to before, doesn’t know how it breaks out or why it was put in there. As far as raises for City Council people, she said she know that they are included in the raises for general employees of the City and thinks there need to be justification for additional monies for that aspect of it. She said that she hasn’t seen anything and doesn’t remember exactly what else was on the list and these are main ones and as it is presented tonight she can not support it.
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Adopt Resolution No. 6139 granting an exception to the Open Container Ordinance to the Northeast- Central Louisiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Organization (Pink Tie Ball) pursuant to Monroe City Code Sec. 12-231 D. (Open Container Ordinance), and further providing with respect thereto. (There were no comments from the public).
Department of Community Affairs:
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to consider request from the Louisiana Purchase Zoo to advertise for bids on the purchase of seven (7) shade structures for the splash pad being constructed at the Zoo. The estimated cost is approximately $3,000 per structure. The funds will be derived from the Splash Pad Account, which original balance was $400,000 and $265,000 is encumbered by the Splash Pad.
Comments: Mr. Wayne Hackney said he can’t understand why we need 7 shade structures at the splash pads at the zoo. He said they would cost $3,000 each for a total of $21,000 in addition to the $65,000. Mr. Clark said that he has been waiting on this for 6 years and that the zoo has been underfunded for so many years and it’s hard to play catch up. The splash pads are needed for the locals and out of town visitors to our city. He said it is a great addition and we need it. Mr. Clark added that we are trying to overhaul the zoo and put some money into it, let’s not disagree on this matter. Mr. Hackney said that he doesn’t think we should spend this kind of money on the zoo until the zoo can start making money.
Ms. Zoey Rankin, formerly of the Zoo Board came forward and said that the Zoological Society is doing a lot to improve the zoo. She said there was a weekend of working the gardens at the zoo and yes it has been underfunded but she thinks it would be a great way to get parents to the zoo because they do not want to sit in the sun while the kids are at the splash pad. If this is one way to get families to the zoo, this is an affordable way to do it.
Michael DeVault came forward and said that his grandfather built the La. Purchase Gardens and Zoo with Mayor Jack Howard. His said his uncles were the first two people through the doors after it was remodeled in the 1960’s, and that they traveled around the world looking at the design of different zoos. He said that what Councilman Clark stated about the zoo is absolutely correct in that the zoo has been underfunded by at least 25 per cent of what it needed to operate as a zoo. He applauded the Council and the Administration for taking the initiative and effort to bring what is and can be again the Crown Jewel of Northeast La. And as a member of the Zoo Board he thanked them for their interest. He said Joe Clawson is doing an excellent job with very limited resources and limited staff. He was President of the Zoo Board and is currently a member of the Zoo Board and has always heard negative things about the zoo and for the first time he is hearing more positive things about the zoo. He stated there is an effort to get the trains back going, the gardens and with the limited resources the staff is doing an excellent job. He added if you haven’t been to the zoo go there and you will be able to see things you haven’t seen before.
Mr. Clawson, Director of the Zoo came forward and said that this is not additional money, it is money already budgeted and is willing to share the budget with anyone.
Dr. Armstrong mentioned briefly that according to Mr. Clawson there is a significant increase in revenue at the zoo which is very significant in developing the infrastructure and capital improvements that are needed at the zoo. He said Mr. Clawson is doing a great job in bringing the community together. He said that the community should go to the zoo, have birthday parties there and enjoy the zoo.
Mr. Wilson asked when everything including the splash pad would be ready. Mr. Clawson responded that it should be ready by April 2014.
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson , seconded by Dr. Armstrong and unanimously approved to Consider request from the Louisiana Purchase Zoo to advertise for bids for a walk-in freezer at the Zoo. The estimated costs of the freezer will be about $45,000. The funds will be derived from the Zoo Capitol Account, which has a remaining balance of $135,225.34.
Comments: Mr. Wayne Hackney came forward and asked what type of freezer the zoo was currently using. Mr. Clawson, Zoo Director replied that the zoo is using a Korean War Vintage Mobile Army Freezer that was purchased back in the 1960’s from an Army Surplus Store in Fort Polk, La. This vintage freezer is in such a state that parts for it are not made any more. The funds to purchase this requested freezer are monies that the zoo has already been budgeted to purchase.
Mr. Hackney said that according to his figures there is a total $134,000 being spent for the freezer, splash pad structures and restrooms. He said because the kids and parents aren’t going to take care of it he said the money was being thrown away. Mr. Hackney said the zoo should be moved to the Chennault Park.
Mr. Michael DeVault came forward and said the freezer is 53 years old and that the zoo has been underfunded and he would like to see what the zoo would look like if it was fully funded.
Ms. Zoey Rankin said that you can expect normal wear and tear on any structure. She said the last time that she was at the zoo that she spoke with several people who were mostly from out of town that specifically came to Monroe just for the zoo. She said we need to make the zoo a tourist destination spot and bring it back to make it again the pride of the city.
Mr. Clawson stated that the bathroom and freezer funds are coming from the zoo capital account set up by the City Council about 3 years ago. He said the splash pad shade funds are coming from line item for the splash pads.
Ms. Blakes added that $134,000 for the kids was nothing to spend compared to what would be spent if the kids were incarcerated at Green Oaks. She said to have the family and kids enjoy what the zoo offers are well worth her vote.
Police Department: NONE
Fire Department: NONE.
Engineering Services: NONE.
INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS & ORDINANCES:
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance authorizing the City of Monroe to take corporeal possession of the property described below and sell to Charlon Brown and Jermy C. Perkins, for two thousand two hundred forty-three and 98/100 dollars, all rights, title and interest that the City may have acquired in and to Lot thirteen (13) of Block eighty-one (81) of Unit thirteen (13), Booker T. Washington Addition, Monroe, La, by adjudication at Tax Sale dated July 15, 2002, and further with respect thereto. (Legal) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance authorizing the sale of certain property at the Monroe Air Industrial Park pursuant to a Contract of Lease with Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation containing an option to purchase and further providing with respect thereto. (Public Wks) (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes asked what account the proceeds from the sale of this property would go into. Mr. Barnes responded that the proceeds from the sale would go into the Airport Revenue.
Upon a motion by Ms. Blakes, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance revoking Serbanes Oxley Place from the west right-of-way line of Broadmoor Drive west approximately 434’ to its terminus and further providing with respect thereto – Vantage Health Plan Inc – (P & Z) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing B-1 Transition Business District to a B-2 Neighborhood Business District presently located in Ouachita Parish and located in Lot 1 and 2 of the Oliver Medical Park Subdivision – APPLICANT – Vantage Health Plan Inc. – (P&Z)
Comments: Ms. Nell Bradley asked when the Public Hearing would be held for the next 3 zoning items on tonight’s agenda. Ms. Riley said that the zoning maps would have to be advertised within 15 days. Ms. Riley corrected it and said that they must be advertised at least 3 times before they come back to Council. She said that with the once a week paper it may take a little while but at the end of the month they have two advertisements and it will come back on the 8th , but they do have to be advertised 3 times. Ms. Bradley asked would there be a Public Hearing or would it be at Council Meeting. Ms. Riley replied that the Final Adoption would be the Public Hearing. Ms. Bradley said that she is aware that sometimes Zoning has a Public Hearing.
Upon a motion by Mr. Clark, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing B-3 General Business District to a B-3R General Business/Residential District presently located in Ouachita Parish and located at 3210 Concordia Avenue –APPLICANT –Dung Q. Pham – (P&Z) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Clark and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance adopting and amending the Zoning Map for the City of Monroe, Louisiana and authorizing the Clerk to publish notice of Public Hearing to rezone an existing B-1 Transition Business District to a B-3R General Business/Residential District presently located in Ouachita Parish and being a part of 117 Hudson Lane–APPLICANT –Wolf Develop. – (P&Z) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance declaring certain immovable property in Monroe Air Industrial Park as not being needed for public use and authorizing the same to be sold at private sale of said property to JAF Properties, LP, pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statute 33:4712, and further providing with respect thereto. (Public Wks) (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes asked if there was anyone present from JAF Properties, LP. Ms. Summersgill said there wasn’t anyone present from JAF Properties, LP because it is an Ordinance Introduction. Ms. Blakes asked if this was the location where the hotel would be built and Ms. Summersgill stated no and that this is just an addition for their business that they do have.
Dr. Armstrong had a question about the appraised value and he felt it was really low. He said the comparables taken from Air Industrial Area within itself would be low, but if they were taken around the area the appraisal may be more realistic. He said the cost of this appraisal is about 50 cents per square foot. He thinks it’s low and would like to see the appraisal before he votes on it. Ms. Summersgill said that she would supply him with it.
Dr. Armstrong said that he would like to table this item until the Council can view the appraisal. Dr. Armstrong withdrew his motion since it was only up for Introduction.
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mrs. Ezernack and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance amending and adjusting the City of Monroe Operating Budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 and further providing with respect thereto. (Admin.) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mrs. Ezernack and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance declaring certain immovable property in Monroe as no longer being needed for public use and authorizing the same to be sold to Michael Echols Properties, LLC, pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statute 33:4712, and further providing with respect thereto.(Legal). (There were no comments from the public).
Comments: Ms. Blakes asked what type of property was being sold. Ms. Summersgill said it was the old Iris Hotel Property located on DeSiard Street which burned down and the city incurred costs to get the hotel down. The property was dangerous, it had folks living in it. There were some issues with the Parish, they and the owners conveyed all of their rights, interests and titles over to the City. Ms. Summersgill noted that this property is a vacant piece of property. Ms. Ezernack added that it is a very small tract, 80ft by 120ft.
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance accepting the donation of a parcel of real estate into the City of Monroe from the Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in connection with an effort to develop blighted property, and further providing with respect thereto.(Legal) (There were no comments from the public).
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Introduce an Ordinance donating a parcel of real estate to Rays of Sonshine pursuant to Louisiana Constitutional Article 7, Section B(6) in connection with an effort to develop blighted property, and further providing with respect thereto.(Legal)
Comments: Rev. Martin came forward and asked who was donating the property. Ms. Summersgill said that this Introductory Ordinance has to do with the previous Ordinance. Wells Fargo is donating a piece of property to the City and once it is donated to the City then the City will donate it to Rays of Sonshine. She said Rays of Sonshine came to the City with the proposition and since the City has no use for the property, decided to donate it to them.
Ms. Nell Bradley asked what does Rays of Sonshine intend to do with the City donated property and are their stipulations or requirements for them receiving and using this property. Ms. Summersgill said they have to use it for some kind of housing purposes. The reasons the city is donating to them is because there are some statutes dealing with blighted properties and that they will clean it up and build something on it for commercial purposes.
Ms. Kim Golden, Counsel for Rays of Sonshine stated that the Council should recall a couple of years ago that Rays of Sonshine was involved with the Neighborhood stabilization project and the City facilitated a number of adjudicated properties being acquired by Rays of Sonshine. It’s a strategy of being part of revitalizing the neighborhood and that connections were made with Wells Fargo which has a national stabilization project and this property is close to one of the other lots that were purchased, it was a burned down property that was torn down and a structure was built and now a family is living in it. She added that this structure is boarded up and Wells Fargo is willing to tear it down once it is donated to Rays of Sonshine. It is part of an assembly of work toward rebuilding that part of the City.
Ms. Nell Bradley asked if Rays of Sonshine is a nonprofit and if anyone personally is benefitting. Ms. Golden said that it is a 501c3 and if Rays of Sonshine goes under then its property must go to another 501c3 organization doing the same type of thing.
Mr. Wilson asked how many properties Rays of Sonshine had for construction within the City. Ms. Golden answered that they have at present 10 shovel ready lots meaning they are environmentally and zoned ready. This donation will give them 2 more lots for a total of 12 shovel ready locations. She said there are a number of fragments, parcels that aren’t buildable but are keeping them mowed and cleared until they are ready to acquire those properties. Mr. Wilson asked if any of the houses were vacant with no tenants. Ms. Golden said they built 12 new houses and she believes they are all occupied and maybe a lease has ended and haven’t gotten someone in but they stay fully leased. Rays of Sonshine also built apartments on North 3rd. Mr. Wilson said that one of the properties owned by Rays of Sonshine on Jackson Street in his District 4 and has high grass. Ms. Golden said that she doesn’t think that Rays of Sonshine owns that property but will find out and let Mr. Wilson know.
Upon a motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mrs. Ezernack and unanimously approved to Finally adopt Ordinance No. 11,421 deleting the current Chapter 30.5 of the Monroe City Code Entitled "Smokefree Air” and replacing same in its entirety with the new Chapter 30.5 Entitled "Smoke-Free Air Act” and further providing with respect thereto.
Comments: Ms. Tonya Moore of New Orleans, La came forward on behalf of the Smokefree Air Act expressed that second hand smoke is a serious issue and said that there were several people tonight who have traveled to speak on behalf of the Smokefree Air Act. She stated that Alexandria is the first city who enacted a Smokefree Air Act Ordinance. She said it is important that the community see how this Ordinance has benefitted Alexandria.
Ms. Nell Bradley said that smoking is bad for your health but she felt that rights are being taken away by this Ordinance.
Ms. Earline Bryant said that when she was in college she remembers companies handing out cigarettes to college students and this is how she started but that she stopped in 1973. She said they are very offensive. She said that she had a business in 1994 and if she had not let smokers smoke in her business then she would not have had a business. She feels it is left up to individuals and it is a toss up thing with her.
Mr. Jim Bowie said in regard to Ms. Haneline’s data and despite this information that Louisiana and the Federal Government has not deemed it necessary to put any further restrictions on smoking than it already have. He added that the West Monroe Police Officers who are working security and are susceptible to second hand smoke that it is a choice they make and it is a second job and most of that work entails working outside the bar by the front door. His only request is Council have an open mind because most people have strong feelings about this subject and to just focus on his comments. He added that smokers are already very restrictive as to where they can smoke, i.e., bars, casinos, and bingo halls and that it’s wrong to tell a business owner that. We don’t need a new law to ban smoking. If the law is passed it may hurt bar owners and they will suffer badly. In the twin cities if we have an opportunity for a casino to come here and if he was a casino owner he would not select Monroe, a place that does not permit smoking. He said if the smoking ordinance is voted upon it can not be repealed.
Tommy Stewart, Club Pink Owner stated that the ban is his concern and that the studies on second hand smoke can not prove whether they are good or bad and why are we banning something that we don’t have a lot of information on just yet. As far as the musicians, and coming into a bar to play and not wanting to be around cigarette smoke, if there wasn’t a bar then they wouldn’t have a job anyway, since this is most of the places that they play. The club is not permitted to put a patio onto the building and people would have to smoke in the parking lot posing a risk. He said he has staff members and they all smoke. His employees know that it’s a smoke work atmosphere.
Jordan Williams, bartender at Club Pink stated that he heard a statement about Alexandria and how they banned smoking in the bars and how their business has increased their business. He said that he has friends in Alexandria and that it does not increase business. He thinks it will hurt the bar business.
Mark Napoli, Interventional Cardiologist in Monroe, La stated that he believes in people’s freedom of choice until it infringes upon peoples rights. He spent the last 20 years treating heart disease and specializing in emergency cardiac care, heart attacks. The overwhelming majority of people seen at hospital having heart attacks are smokers. The insurance premiums don’t cover the costs of those, it’s a pooled event. The first place to institute a smoking ban in restaurants, bars and workplaces was in Ireland in 2004. This was met with fierce debate. The Ordinance did pass and the patronage did increase. The other interesting thing that happened during the first quarter of that year was the incident of heartaches went down by 25 per cent. He said there is no type of medication that can have this type of impact and in the greater scheme of things it has been reproduced in municipality after municipality in the United States. The greater economic impact that a smoking ban will have both from the healthcare dollar which everyone knows is a huge amount of public funds devoted to that and there is not any evidence that these establishments suffer from a smoking ban.
Shelley Jones, Regional Medical Director with Office of Public Health echoed what Dr. Napoli stated. She said that tobacco smoke has 7,000 chemicals, hundreds are toxic and 69 of those cause cancer. If you breathe second hand smoke for 30 minutes you are getting the same effect as if you are smoking the cigarette yourself. Exposure to second hand smoke causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke, there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. It increases a non smoker risk of heart disease by 60 per cent and pregnant women who are exposed to second hand smoke are at risk for spontaneous abortion, still births, and sudden infant death in their babies after they are born. Non smokers exposed are twice as likely to have major depression as people who aren’t. In Louisiana, service industry employees and entertainers that work in bars breathe more secondhand smoke than in any type of employee and many of them have the same illnesses as smokers. People who work in bars and gaming industry breathe enough second hand smoke everyday and they have the same health problems as the pack-a-day smokers. She ended by saying; hopefully, some of these comments will influence your decisions.
Enoch Doyle Jeter, Founder of NELa Celtic Festival, Fine Arts Print Making Instructor at ULM, and owner of Enochs Irish Pub and Café came forward to speak. He stated that for 29 years his business was considered a restaurant and bar and the last Ordinance four or five years ago, forced it to become a Bar/Restaurant. He said he is in support of Smokefree Air Act Ordinance but is wary of how things are going because in Louisiana there is always a gray area. He added that it is up to City Council to make an even playing field for the rest of us when the Ordinance is passed. He disagreed that it will be good for business and will lose some of his business. He said musicians at his business smoke and he has put $13,000 in a patio heated fenced area. It’s time to just do it, but make it a level playing field. Mr. Jeter asked who is going to enforce this. We are for it but keep it reasonable, 5 ft outside the door will work for all of us it’s a good compromise. He said that he has been told that some people are trying to get it to be 20-25 ft. and this will kill a bunch of businesses. Mr. Jeter added that he is proud to be paying taxes for 34 years, 31 in Monroe, proud to be in Monroe, Louisiana, but we need to make it a fair Ordinance.
Zoey Rankin, said that she disagree with a couple of things that Mr. Jeter said. She said that she knows people who play in bands at that bar and she will not go because she can’t be around the cigarette smoke. She said she was in one of the groups that monitored the smoke and that she monitored Club Pink and was there and another bar for approximately 30 minutes. She said that she went home that night and had to shower three times to get the smell off of her and had to wash her clothes twice and within a week was diagnosed with pneumonia. She stated her parents and grand parents smoked, but she has never smoked a cigarette in her life. She stated she use to frequent smoke-filled bars and they became prohibitive to her when she developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease simply from being around second hand smoke. She said 10 to 20 people are not going to go outside to smoke at one time. Just like 10 to 20 people are not going to go to the bathroom at one time. Another point Ms. Rankin made is when she monitored the bars the most that she saw cigarettes lit were seven when the bar had at least 45-50 people in it so if those seven people stepped out for the time it took to smoke a cigarette you would still have the majority of the patrons in the bar. If the bars are smoke free, she would love to go and hear her friends play music and support the bar owners, but physically for her health she can not. She appreciates and hopes the Ordinance is passed.
Rick Miller came forward and stood as an advocate for La. Campaign for Tobacco Free Living as well as for the Ordinance. Mr. Miller stated that as a business owner, he is responsible to provide safe clean health work environments for his employees and customers. He advocates the passing of the Ordinance and adopting it is a duty of the Monroe City Council. He mentioned the CDC tobacco commercial of the lady who had the wig, hole in throat and false teeth died seven days ago from cigarette smoke.
Roosevelt Johnson, Past President of Alexandria City Council and was President of the City Council when Alexandria passed Smokefree Act Ordinance. He stated he is concerned and wants to see healthy cities and communities. He said a year and a half after their Ordinance was passed businesses and bars did not go out of business. He quoted a statement from Alexandria Bingo Owner, Mr. Tony Dinico who said passing the Alexandria Smokefree Act Ordinance was a "God sent measure done by the city”, and was pleased at how his business increased. Mr. Johnson said the Alexandria Smoke Free Act Ordinance was enacted on the first of the year in 2011/2012 and has been great for city. He said when company and corporations look at Monroe they will look to see if we have a healthy city and community. He said that for the city to take a closer look at what we can do to be a healthier city and added that the City of Monroe has a great Ordinance but what you are getting ready to do will be great for the City.
Jules Green, City Councilman Alexandria came forward and stated that the Ordinance in Alexandria passed 7-0. One hospital has banned smoking on the grounds and if you work there you can not smoke. He said that he does not know of anyone who works at that hospital and who smokes left their job because of the ban. He said he can assure us that the clubs and bingo halls have not suffered and to please consider the health, prosperity of the community in moving forward. Please consider the Ordinance and he wishes Monroe the best.
Michael DeVault said that he believes in the rights of people. He said that he wants to talk about the rights of the 690 people who died from second hand smoke. He said there is no credible study that says there is no safe exposure, distance to second hand smoke. There is more air outside. In talking about bingo halls, casinos he said that Las Vegas is smoke free, Austin and Memphis are smoke free and have better health than any city in Louisiana with the exception of Alexandria.
Last point that Mr. DeVault made is when he gave reference to a comment by Mr. Doyle Jeter who said he doesn’t know anyone who would take a 25 per cent pay cut. Mr. DeVault stated that Dr. Napoli said that he would take a 25 per cent because his client base will shrink by 25 per cent the day the Ordinance is passed. Mr. DeVault urged City Council to pass the Smoke Free Air Act Ordinance for the 690 people and the rights of those who died from second hand smoke. Mr. DeVault ended by saying it takes a lot of courage to step up and say it’s not a right but a privilege and it’s a privilege that we can’t give you anymore.
Mrs. Ezernack after the vote added her comments and said that in our efforts she knows that what we are doing is in a big circle. She said West Monroe, Ouachita and Monroe City all have to pass their Ordinances for all to be effective and she wants to level the playing field so that they all (Ordinances) say the same thing. Mrs. Ezernack said that she doesn’t want people leaving Monroe to go to West Monroe or West Monroe leaving to go to Monroe. The effective date of the ordinance is January 2, 2014. She said that she had one other quantifier in Section 35-7 No. C read as "In and within 15 feet of outdoor serving areas of restaurants and bars” and she said that she wanted to add unless the patio or outdoor serving area is located at a bar an employee is stationary at that location; so that would be the outdoor sitting area. It is her understanding if someone is going in and out waiting on people from that area it is a bar, they don’t have a bar set up that would be excluded.
Ms. Summersgill said that it is the Council’s pleasure to amend it and that she had spoken with West Monroe and the Parish and that we all do the same. So there is no unlevel playing field and it would not be a substantive issue that we would have to come back on. It is a decision that the Council will make and if we elect to do a little bit less in other words we are not being substitive but we are giving something. Mrs. Ezernack said that she just wants to make sure that what we have understood from others are containing is that we all are the same in that regard and that’s what she was advised. Ms. Summersgill said that it won’t be in effect until January 2, 2014 and if something were to change between now and then and if West Monroe and/or the Parish doesn’t adopt the same thing and if Monroe City Council wants to come back then we can come back and do something with the Ordinance. Chairman Clark asked if this was an amendment to the Ordinance and if so then because there was already a motion on the floor that the previous motions would have to be withdrawn. With the motions withdrawn; Mrs. Ezernack made a motion to amend the Ordinance, seconded by Mr. Wilson and unanimously approved for the Ordinance in Article 30.5-7, Article No. C to be "In and within 15 feet of outdoor serving areas of restaurants and bars, unless the patio or outdoor serving area is located at a bar an employee is stationary at that location.” And To change the Article 30.5-7 for the effective date to read, January 2, 2014.
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Mr. Wilson and approved with Mr. Clark and Ms. Blakes voting no to Finally adopt the amended Smokefree Air Act Ordinance.
Comments: Mr. Doyle Jeter, came forward and said that his business has three different doors at his business and wanted to know if all doors are restricted to fifteen feet. He said that the Ordinance is very confusing, there still haven’t been any comments as to how this will be enforced.
Ms. Summersgill said to Mr. Jeter that he will just need to read the Ordinance and it only affects a small part. Her office will supply him a copy of the Ordinance. Mr. Clark said that he would get Mr. Jeter an answer tonight on the amended motion. Mrs. Ezernack read from the Ordinance as it stated 15 feet entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, so as to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas. Mr. Jeter said that this would knock out their patio area, picnic tables in front of the business, the back area and these are all of the areas that we have put money into and this was done to supply customers and employees people that do want to go outside to smoke. He stated that he is for the Ordinance but that he wants it to be fair. He asked is this the way that the Ordinance is going to go and will we be restricted to have to keep people from smoking fifteen feet from all of the entrances. Mrs. Ezernack said that this is what the Ordinance says today. Mr. Jeter said congratulations, 34 years of business and we are going to get hammered along with other businesses. He said that he is involved in charity events and all aspects of the community and said that he won’t be able to do a lot of it because of this Ordinance. He has been hearing all along that this was going to be a fair Ordinance and this is literally going to kill a lot of businesses. He offered to Council, if you have a question, he would be willing to answer any because he has a lot of experience with this matter.
Ms. Nell Bradley said with all of the confusion can the vote be delayed and can the Council get with West Monroe and the Parish, have a Public meeting so that everyone can be voting on the same thing. She said that she tried to get the West Monroe and Parish Ordinance and they don’t have it and wanted to know what they are voting on. She said it was too much confusion. She suggests the agenda item is tabled until a real public meeting is held.
Lauren Conrad came forward and said that the fifteen feet means that smoking would be allowed on a patio (enclosed patio) if it is a part of the business. She explained the Ordinance in regard to Enochs that the tables would just have to be fifteen feet from the door. The Ordinance exempted the patio and if the patio is attached to the building or the bar and it is enclosed or the person who works at the bar is under the patio then someone could still smoke.
Upon a motion by Mrs. Ezernack, seconded by Ms. Blakes and unanimously approved to Finally adopt Ordinance No. 11,422 adopting the authorized millage rate(s) and providing for the levying of special and general taxes for the City of Monroe for the year 2013. (This item was held over to meet advertisement requirement for new millage law before finally adopted. (Admin.) (There were no comments from the public).
Ms. Earline Bryant said a lady called her on yesterday that needed a one way sign put up on Terry Street and that she called Mr. Holland and he said he would take care of it. Ms. Bryant said that Mr. Virgil and Mr. Dan came down on Polk Street to mow the lots that they missed 2 weeks ago they could not get the tractor to one of the areas because of the ditch and they also picked up tires from that area. Also, four workers from Public Works came out and cut down all of the limbs and obnoxious growth and put it on the side of the street to be picked up. They are doing a great job. She said that they deserve more than a 2 ½ percent raise.
Mr. Ray Jones, Jr. came forward and stated about the struggles of Monroe and in 1918 the City of Monroe had a law and had commissioners. He said African Americans at that time could not run for office and what we have today is representation and to make Monroe a great place. He said he believes now that Monroe can be the jewel of the city and we can be Monroe proud and make great things happen in Monroe.
Ms. Gloria Walker came forward and stated that she wished her Council would have been interested about the citizens in Monroe, about the I-20 Board, the employees who lost their jobs at LSU, Century Tel that’s trying to build and nothing is happening because of our Council, like they were with Smoke Free Air. She said she suggested when Council get their packet and go over it that the questions they ask they should have enough time to get the answers but want to give themselves $150,000 raise.
Mr. Wayne Hackney came forward and stated that he wanted to clear up what Ms. Walker said and that it is not true that LSU employees lost there jobs and wished people would get their stories straight. He said he is waiting for something else to happen and to pass the Ordinance to make it a smoke free city and when is the City going to pass an Ordinance to make it a Liquor free city. He said he believes liquor kills more people than smoking does. He doesn’t believe the government should make laws to tell people what to do. He said that instead of Mr. Clark being a leader that he is being a dictator and that is something we don’t need.
Mr. Clark stated to Mr. Hackney that they have always been respectful towards one another but if his controlling the Council meeting is becoming some type of dictatorship to him then that is what it will have to be to keep control and order. There is no disrespect towards him and haven’t said anything tonight and we are going to move the meetings forward and in an orderly fashion and this is his job.
There being no further business to come before the council, the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m. upon motion of Mr. Wilson and it was seconded by Ms. Blakes.
Mr. Eddie Clark
Carolus S. Riley
For extended details on the council meeting please call the Council Clerk Monday-Friday at
329-2252 to schedule and appointment to listen to the minutes tape.