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City Council Minutes

October 25, 1999

October 25, 1999

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding. Those Commissioners in attendance were: Commissioners Vickers, Watkins, Saunders, Swafford and Rice. Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the October 4th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins then made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 18th work session; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.


Commissioner Rice advised a request was received for increased lighting in the areas of Cornish Drive, Weaver Avenue, Camelia Street and Camelia Circle. These areas were looked at by the Committee and "saw them to be in no worse condition than any other street in the City." However, since then, the lights have been upgraded by Conectiv so "I look at this concept as being a moot point at this time."

The Lighting Committee is still evaluating the Douglas Street area lighting. Commissioner Rice added that the Traffic and Safety Committee is still trying to resolve the issue of speed strips for the Calvin Mowbray Park.

Commissioner Saunders interjected that the Douglas Street area lighting "has already been taken care of."


Mr. Rolston stated that he is a part time resident of Cambridge and he is in the process of building a restaurant on High Street called The Nathan House.

He would like to go to the State of Maryland for a revitalization loan and came before Council this evening to ask for a letter of support from the City for this undertaking.

Commissioner Saunders mentioned that this would be the same type of letter that the City did for Craig's Drug Store. The letter needs Kathy Fosters signature (because she is the State approved contact) and it will also have a statement where it does not obligate the City of Cambridge to any finances for the life of the project.

She then made a motion to allow Ms. Foster to send a letter on behalf of the Mayor and Council "that we support this important project development"; seconded Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr.Kinnamon opened the following bids and read them aloud:

1)  Glenn P. Ruark -- Cambridge, MD     $38,974.47

2)  Climate Masters, Inc.  -- Sudlersville, MD     $41,600.00

3)  Dorchester Service Associates -- Cambridge, MD     $33,006.00

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for review; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Edgar came to the podium to ask the Council if the Cambridge/Dorchester County Christmas Parade Committee, Inc. could use the streets of downtown Cambridge to hold its annual event on December 4th at 5:00 p.m.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion "to allow noise variances and any other cooperation that we can and that they coordinate with Public Works and the Police Department specifically on the peddlers license"; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Edgar said they have a few special things planned for this year being that it is the final Christmas Parade of the century... "and hopefully they'll be a few surprises."

He further mentioned the Parade-a-Thon scheduled at WCEM AM and FM on Saturday, November 6th from 8:00 a.m. until noon "and we would like to have all of you come down and speak on the radio and say a few words and help us to raise some money. You all have supported us in the past..." Commissioner Saunders said she is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Mr. Edgar added that this is the largest nighttime Christmas Parade in the whole state.


Mr. Pritchett said he submitted a memo to Council with a recommendation. Since that time he has spoken with the two qualifying contractors and there was some confusion on the bidding regarding the wording saying "minimal 7.5 ton unit" versus just plain "7.5 ton unit". As it turned out, one bid one way and one bid with some latitude. He feels the most fair thing to do at this point is to rebid with the specks more specific.

Commissioner Saunders moved to allow D. P. W. to rebid; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to award the bid, as recommended by the Police Department, to Logical Approach, Inc. in the amount of $13,313.76; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders referenced a report from Major Michael J. Maloney dated October 6th which stated, "as a follow-up to yesterday's meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, I just wanted to clear up one issue to apprise you of the acts that we put in motion."

Corporal Deborah Slowik has been instructed to contact Mr. Dean to set up an appointment for the development of a Neighborhood Business Watch Group. Pfc. Palestine Elliott has been instructed to monitor the parking violations in the downtown area, including the parking lots, and to take the appropriate action, excluding the 2-hour parking restriction.

Bicycle patrol officers have been instructed to spend additional time in the downtown area and to take appropriate enforcement action against persons violating the bicycle laws, creating a disturbance or consuming alcoholic beverages in public.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to have Mr. Pritchett erect more specific signs in all City parking lots. For example, Council learned there were some "all day" and some "2-hour parking" parking lots. She included in her motion that Mr. Pritchett research this and bring some ideas back to Council so they can take some action. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swafford and it carried unanimously.

The other problem that came up from the business people was that sometimes one car will park in a space and a half. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that Council allow Mr. Pritchett to investigate the cost of putting down parking stripes/blocks downtown and bring it back to the Council "and that we would do this." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Vickers and it carried unanimously.

Another mention was that at one time the Major said the City had a Traffic Division in the Police Department. She made a motion that "we allow the Major to be directed through Mr. Kinnamon to research that type of Division again and what, if any, additional cost it would be to the taxpayers." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

The last thing that was mentioned was that in an area of Baltimore, there had been security cameras placed on all businesses. A motion was made by Commissioner Saunders that Ms. Kathy Foster work with Major Maloney to contact the government in Baltimore and find out how they got money to pay for their cameras. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Saunders to ask Ms. Marge Lednum to help the City find out what business people from High, Poplar and Race Streets would be amenable to share the cost and have those cameras mounted on their businesses. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Vickers interjected that he thinks the cameras mounted in Baltimore are put on utility poles and not businesses. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders added that she wanted to thank the business community for putting their faith in her and for working together to get these concerns taken care of.

A motion was then made by Commissioner Saunders to go into Executive Session after tonight's meeting to discuss a legal matter; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Saunders to go into Executive Session tonight to discuss a specific personnel issue; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett submitted a memo as a reminder for Council's direction whether to proceed forward with Recreation and Parks to see what can be done about an additional pavilion and new playground equipment for Great Marsh Park.

Commissioner Saunders said she sat in on a meeting, representing Commissioner Vickers who couldn't attend, with Mr. Pritchett and some State open-space people. The Council previously voted to move forward because "we found that we needed another pavilion at Great Marsh Park." The County and the State were very favorable in trying to help the City with the cost.

She then made a motion on behalf of the First Ward Commissioner that we continue to look into this and try to make it a reality; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison advised that there was a public hearing on this matter on September 20th. At that time, the question arose regarding whether or not the location of this restaurant was within 500 feet of a church. Mr. Price was to investigate and get back to Council.

Mr. Pritchett advised that D.P.W. received a letter from Brady P. Todd & Son, Inc. where they do state that the church is a Baptist Church and holds meetings on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night.

Mr. Collison mentioned to Council that at the public hearing Mr. Bramble was advised that if written confirmation was received about the location being an active church, he would be offered the opportunity to address that information prior to Council making a decision on his special use permit for on-premises sale of beer and wine at 315 Sunburst Highway. Mr. Collison requested that Council defer its decision for one more week so a copy of the letter received from Mrs. Todd could be provided to Mr. Bramble. He could then have the opportunity to address the Council next week on that issue.

Commissioner Rice moved to defer this until next week; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. For discussion, Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison, "since there has been so much made about ethics of the Council, if persons serving on any of our committees have any business relationship or whatever at the time that a vote is taken, how ethical is that?" Mr. Collison stated that if they have a business relationship with the individual who is applying for something, they need to disclose and abstain from voting on that particular issue. Commissioner Saunders went on to say, "I think you might want to go back and read the minutes from the Housing or the Zoning or whoever it was they made, that he came before." Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison advised that a public hearing was held on October 18th for this annexation request on property on Route 50. There was no opposition to the request at the public hearing. If approved, it will become effective 45 days after tonight.

Commissioner Rice moved that the annexation be approved; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison advised that a public hearing on this matter was also held on October 18th. This property is in the Christ Rock area and it abuts City property by the park. The property owner would be responsible for extension of the service to them that the City would provide thereafter.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion that the annexation be approved; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison advised that previously Commissioner Saunders had submitted some recommendations on revisions to the code. The existing structure has just one member, being Mr. Kinnamon. He has proposed a "committee format" of three members (although Council could make it for as many as they wish) and the proposed ordinance gives greater detail for procedures to follow.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table the adoption of the proposed ordinance until Council can get some legal advice on two points. For clarification, Mr. Collison verified one was pertaining to "removal from office" and the second being the paralleling investigation. Commissioner Watkins added that he is concerned about who would have jurisdiction "and how far will they be able to go." He then asked that this be made part of Commissioner Saunders motion and she agreed. Commissioner Saunders thanked Mr. Collison that he included in the proposed ordinance "that they would have to be appointed by the Council and Mayor but she would like to see a unanimous vote by the Council and Mayor." She also stated that members wanting to serve on the Ethics Commission would need to include in their letter or resume, "why they want to serve on this committee."

Commissioner Vickers asked why it was suggested that three (3) members be appointed..."why not five (5)?" Commissioner Saunders stated that in the research she had done, every county only had three. Mr. Collison interjected that Dorchester County has five (5) members, one being appointed by each Commissioner. In response to Mayor Wooten's question regarding length of term to serve, Mr. Collison stated that members would be appointed for a four (4) year term, some shall be staggered for less than four (4) years in order that as the initial terms expire, they would not expire at the same time.

Commissioner Vickers added that Commissioner Saunders had been talking about revisions to the Ethics Code at the MML Convention in Ocean City this past year, "long before the so called City land deal." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Rice opposing.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison, "when we need to ask for a meeting for the legal clarifications ...we have to do that at this table at a regular meeting to ask to go into Executive Session at another time when we get ready to do this, right?" Mr. Collison agreed. The actual vote on the Ordinance will be done at an open meeting.


Mr. Collison advised that a public hearing was held on October 4th and Council approved the guidelines as submitted. He has submitted the actual ordinance for signature this evening with the guidelines attached as "Exhibit A".

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow the Mayor to sign the ordinance; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Commissioner Saunders added, "we don't want to lose sight of the fact that all of this was done at no dollar cost to the taxpayers whatsoever. If any money was spend, most of it was spent out of Mr. Hayward's pocket ...all the workshops, all the training, all the hotel stays, all the meals and transportation ...he never asked the City for one dollar... and I want him to know that we appreciate it." Motion then carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the Financial Statement for September; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Watkins made a motion to authorize the Mayor to sign the proclamation for "National Bible Week"; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders advised that at the last Enterprise Zone meeting, the members discussed the expansion of the Enterprise Zone to include the business areas of High, Race and Poplar Streets. The committed discovered that there were several businesses that were not given the opportunity to be in the Enterprise Zone.

Commissioner Saunders said the members voted unanimously to request that the Mayor and Council go back with Mr. Pritchett and revisit the areas of High, Poplar and Race Streets that were not in the Enterprise Zone and have him make a redrawing of the map and present them to Mayor and Council.

She then made a motion that this be done three weeks from tonight; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously. Commissioner Saunders added that the deadline for the request of the expansion is no later than April 15, 2000.


Mr. Kinnamon advised that this is a house cleaning request. The banks that he deals with have requested that current signatures be on file. Currently it is Mr. Kinnamon, Mr. Pritchett and Mr. Newcomb. This is for security purposes as well as convenience if Mr. Kinnamon is not available.

Commissioner Swafford said he would like to see something in their books with reference to the request before a decision is made. Mr. Kinnamon said the last one that was done was by the previous Council. Commissioner Swafford moved to put this on next week's agenda; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison said there have been discussions between M.U.C., the City and the developers for the Hyatt project regarding water sources for the golf course. There is a prohibition in the City of private wells. The proposal is to upgrade the Woods Road water line from 8" to 12" which would be paid for by M.U.C. as it is not directly related to the Hyatt project.

The only issue for the Council to decide is the extension of the line in the Wal-mart/Route 16 corridor across to the Hyatt property, the cost for that being either borne exclusively by the developer or shared with the developer and the City. The discussions to date have been directed towards allowing the developer to use the City's water sources, and because it is going to be used for irrigation purposes, it will not go through the Wastewater Treatment Plant thereby eliminating the 200$ sewer surcharge. It was discussed to replace the sewer surcharge with a "capital improvement surcharge" at a fee of 50$ of the water bill. This appears acceptable to all the parties. Mr. Collison said Council would need to decide if this is something they would wish to do. Also, would elimination of the sewer surcharge be offered to public parks, museums and golf courses, etc.? Would it be for irrigation purposes for anyone if someone wants to irrigate their lawn if they paid for the installation of a separate meter?

A third choice would be to any type of an account which could be traced that it is not going into the sewage system.In the past, Mr. Collison advised that there had been a request from one of the ice producers that they use the water to produce ice is not going into the sewer system. Would you grant this same option to such a facility?

Commissioner Saunders stated that ever time the Hyatt comes to request something from the City, it seems like "we got to know right away ...they don't come in a timely fashion." It started out as a few years tax rebate, "then we had to add 30 years." She then added, "somewhere along the way, even though some people see the Hyatt as the second coming, we've got to stop and say ...when do they pay some of their costs?" She further stated that except for what M.U.C. says the Hyatt needs, "I think the Hyatt needs to pay their way on this."

Commissioner Watkins added that if the City gives the Hyatt some privileges regarding water fees, "we need to establish a criteria for all businesses that might come in. There may be some individual that may have to use a lot of excess amount of water, then he'll be allowed to do it at the same rate and ratio because I think it is not fair if we just allow them to do it."

Mr. Collison stated that a decision is not necessary this evening and suggested that Council get M.U.C.'s position on this in writing.

Commissioner Swafford stated that if the City is putting a water line in it certainly makes sense to do the 12" because "I think that the water probably some day will go to the airport." Commissioner Vickers added that this is the problem on Woods Road..."the line is too small."

Commissioner Saunders further added that she has nothing against looking out for the Hyatt "but we also got to remember, if we're going to make something available to them, we've got other small business here that we're doing the same surcharge on and we haven't given them any relief over the years..."

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to defer this until next week and to see what M.U.C.'s specific recommendations are. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and it carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders made a motion that all of the Cambridge Emergency Medical Services requests be tabled until Council can get a better knowledgeable understanding of some of the issues that they have addressed (based on the current budget recommendations that they requested and now wanting certain changes in areas that they said were so important to them that they needed). Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swafford and it carried unanimously.

Commissioner Swafford then made a motion to approve the Budget Amendments for the Housing Department and the Department of Public Works; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all budgeted expenditures over $250. with the exception of the two from C.E.M.S.; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett advise a memo was submitted from Dale Price referencing the Critical Area Growth Allocation.

Mr. Roby Hurley, Critical Area Circuit rider, came to the podium. He indicated that in September, Council granted growth allocation to the Hyatt project which depleted "the bank account" acres (the allowed growth allocation) which was given by the County (originally 200 acres). Twenty-one acres were given to Wal-Mart and last month close to 175 acres was granted for the Hyatt project, leaving only about 4 acres for future growth allocation. In the approval process for the Chesapeake Hyatt Resort project, the developer and their consultants changed the critical area line which essentially pulled the 1,000 foot critical area line out of the Wal-Mart property.

Mr. Hurley said his proposal is to go back to the Critical Area Commission and ask for whatever amount of that acreage that was granted for growth allocation to Wal-Mart back because it is no longer in the critical area. He is here tonight to ask for a vote of confidence from this body to proceed with that process.

Commissioner Rice moved that "we give Mr. Roby the vote of confidence he needs to get it done"; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Saunders asked if he needs a letter from the Mayor on this vote tonight and Mr. Hurley said a letter from the Department of Public Works, which he could help them write, would certainly help. This was then added by Commissioner Rice to his original motion. Commissioner Watkins seconded the addition and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett then referenced his memo regarding a grant to replace signs which have begun to fade or do not meet minimum reflective standards. The State is encouraging the City to go to the higher quality sign. He stated the grant "is ours for the asking" but they do request that the City tries to continue increasing its budget through the next years and upgrade the signs to this level.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow Mr. Pritchett to proceed; seconded by Commissioner Swafford who asked, "what type of signs are we talking about?" Mr. Pritchett advise stop, yield, one-way, do not enter. They prefer to stay away from street signs and from public information signs. Motion then carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett stated that he had his first meeting with Peter Johnston of Redman-Johnston Associates with regards to the zoning update. All the pertinent information was given to them, i.e., most current ordinances, sub-division regulations, the zoning book. After it has been reviewed, Mr. Johnston will arrange another meeting.


Mr. Kinnamon referenced his memo regarding an upcoming meeting on Wednesday, October 27th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss sewage from the Madison and Woolford area. The meeting is open to the public.

He then stated he had received a fax from the Chamber of Commerce advising the Mayor and Commissioners of a development seminar on "Company's Coming; Let's Get Ready" to be held at the Chesapeake College Cambridge Center on Thursday, November 4th from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. He will take care of registration if the Mayor or any Commissioners wish to attend. Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Kinnamon to register her.


Commissioner Swafford said he received a letter from Mr. William Asplen asking for someone to check on a complaint for noise from Kool Ice. He then made a motion to refer this to the Department of Public Works and that they report back to Council; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

He then mentioned that he was glad to see Mike Edgar come in tonight about the Christmas Parade. It is the last one of this century and Commissioner Swafford stated there are a lot of special things coming up.


Mayor Wooten said he attended the dinner in honor of Commissioner Watkins at Bethel Church to celebrate all his years of service to the community. He said he agreed with Reverend Hall when he said, "we should give people their roses when they can smell them." It was an excellent dinner, a tremendous turnout and a good program and he was glad to represent the City at the function.

Commissioner Watkins said he was very pleased with the accolades and "it is a pleasure for me to do what I am doing.I am only so sorry I haven't done more to be of help to this community." He added that in 30 years this is as far as we've come and there are so many things we are farther away from than when they were when he started..."we're not together, we don't work together, we don't love each other, we don't try to help each other and I had hoped that we would have gotten to that point, but we haven't."

Mayor Wooten stated that he, along with many others, has worked for the development of the new State Hospital Center. The celebration of construction was held last week and he was allowed to keep the shovel that he turned the dirt over with. Nobody can know, who wasn't involved, how much effort, energy and initiative was put into keeping the hospital here, to keeping those 250 jobs here, to maintaining services for those people that need it. At the celebration he stated, "you don't come to a moment such as this without a great deal of preparatory work being done..."


Commissioner Saunders said that as Council President, she had a letter sent to Mr. Joseph Ross regarding the possibility of the closing of Dorchester General Hospital "and I would like to read his response and let you take it for what it's worth." She proceeded to read his letter which stated that Shore Health Systems is "looking at several different scenarios" and a great deal of input and planning will go into the process prior to any action being taken. Commissioner Saunders said a red flag should go up in this community "and this man better get a whole lot of letters letting him know that we need our hospital to stay open at least for the services we have now."

On another note, Commissioner Saunders advised that Congressman Gilchrest had a meeting here today called "Congressional Conversations on Race Relations Projects" and he did not have the news media involved. She added that this group started in D.C. in the early 90's to bring faith information and knowledge to members of Congress.

There was a gentleman at the meeting who "gave a good example as to why we need those kind of committees. He gave a good example as to why Mr. Watkins made the kind of comments he made today." Commissioner Saunders said it is her understanding that similar meetings are scheduled in the future and they will be more publicly open in an effort to bring communities closer together.

Reference was then made by Commissioner Saunders to correspondence from the Mass Transit Administration. It is about the availability of grants not just for Mass Transit but also for revitalization and infrastructure. A meeting is scheduled for November 17th in Baltimore and she made a motion that Ms. Kathy Foster check this out and go to this workshop and see what kind of grants could be available for our downtown as far as the Smart Growth and revitalization in this program. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then thanked the downtown merchants for their cooperation and said, "slowly, but surely, we're moving forward."

She added that the public is cordially invited to the ground breaking of the Empowerment Center tomorrow at noon on Pine Street.


Commissioner Watkins said that the Empowerment Center is something that's going to be wonderful for the City of Cambridge and will help families of all ages in the community.


Commissioner Vickers said the night Commissioner Watkins had his celebration "I was having one too. I got passed 65."


Mr. Collison said there was reference made in one of his memos regarding some procedures. He will be submitting further information for Council's books for next week's meeting.


Mr. Armond Hayward came forward as Chairman of the Millennium Committee to say they had "a very intense meeting this morning." As a result of the meeting, the Millennium Committee is planning celebration activities on September 30th "when it's cooler and when people would have more time to attend." He added that this Committee was only formed in July and there is no way they could get everything together by January 1 with all the planning that needs to go into this and his overwhelming schedule.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to adopt September 30, 2000 as our Millennium Celebration in the City of Cambridge; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Swafford feels this should work out better "because everybody is going to have their big bash the first of the year ....this is a year long celebration..." Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Charles Lednum came to the podium to publicly thank Council for the nice job that was done on the alley way next to the City Hall parking lot. He also thanked Mr. Pritchett and his department..."it's looking great."


Ms. Marjorie Hall, West End Citizens Association, came forward to advise the Mayor and Council about a meeting scheduled on Wednesday, November 10, 1999 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pleasant Day Medical Adult Day Care Center. Mr. Ronald Young, Deputy Director of the Maryland Office of Planning will provide a presentation on "Smart Growth" legislation. They have also invited the "town fathers" of Oxford, St. Michaels and Easton as well as the Dorchester County Commissioners. There will be an opportunity for questions following his presentation.


Mr. Donald Haring said he came before Council about a month ago and was led to believe that there was going to be some action tonight with regards to concerns in the downtown area. He said, "we're approaching Christmas season and we need to do something on these parking lots."

Commissioner Saunders said the parking situation is already being taken care of by the Police Department. The only thing in question is the wording on the signs because some people feel they are not self-explanatory. Mr. Haring said no one is checking the parking lot for violators and that is why he is back tonight.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Kinnamon to contact Major Maloney tomorrow about enforcement of the two-hour parking limit on the parking lot. She further asked that the Major update the Mayor and Council, in a memo, "as to where that stands with the State Police parking there when they go to Court."


Mr. C. L. Rippons came to the podium stating that since he is the citizen that requested the ethics investigation, he stated "I need to have a time frame that we're looking at." He has been waiting since August for some answers.

A letter was received by him from Mr. Kinnamon and "even though we know that there is no conflict of interest, Mr. Kinnamon ...indicates he is conflicted out." He said he wanted to know for clarification what Council is going to do at this time as far as the investigation?

Mayor Wooten said, "If I understood correctly, I think this is going to be adopted at the next meeting." Mr. Collison said, "I'll have what you asked for me in your package on Thursday, Sir."

The State investigation on this issue is for criminal charges and Mr. Rippons stated, "my request was on an ethics investigation of this Committee-it's not criminal at this time."

Mayor Wooten stated there is a conflict with Mr. Kinnamon as the only member of the Ethics Commission "and we're trying to resolve the problem where he can be removed and your request for an investigation or a consideration can be expedited."

Mr. Collison interjected that he had issued a memo to Council with several options. One was to appoint either an Ad Hoc Committee or Mr. Victor Laws who is used to investigate for the County's Ethics Commission. He said it was his understanding that Council preferred a three person commission created and having them investigate Mr. Rippons complaint.

Commissioner Saunders indicated that since this commission is not going to be appointed right away, and since this is something that needs to be settled so this town can move on, she made a motion that "we take the attorney's suggestion and hire Mr. Victor Laws and just get on with it." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice. Commissioner Vickers wanted Mr. Collison to explain what Mr. Laws is going to do. Mr. Collison stated he would look at the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Mr. Swafford's property and he would make a decision "because that's what the complaint is about." He would address that complaint as to whether those circumstances constitute a violation of the Ethics Code that was in place at the time. Mr. Collison added that, generally speaking, Mr. Laws would interview or discuss it with the complainant as well as any other individual he deems necessary to complete the investigation.

Mr. Rippons said that there still exists within the City Council a consideration that financial disclosure statements must be filed. Commissioner Saunders said it was her understanding that if Council got gifts from anyone doing business with the City, then they must file a financial disclosure. Since she did not receive any gifts, she had nothing to file.

Commissioner Vickers asked what Mr. Collison would estimate that this would cost the City to hire Mr. Laws to handle the investigation. Mr. Collison said his contact was on the County level with the airport issue and the fees were under $1,000.

Commissioner Swafford made a statement saying, "I have received from Mr. Kinnamon, who is and was the Ethics Committee, an opinion..." and he would like a copy of that letter to be forwarded to Mr. Rippons. Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders made another motion that this be set up within the next 30 days. Before a second was made to the motion, Council wanted to be sure that Mr. Collison could take care of this in that time frame. Commissioner Saunders then amended her motion to 60 days; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Rippons addressed Mr. Collison stating that under the current City Charter there is a requirement that those who are in a position must file a written financial disclosure statement. He further stated, "that if there's a Council person here that would have a dealing ...(Mr. Collison said you're asking a hypothetical question) ...let's say hypothetically we're in a land deal.." Mr. Collison interjected to Mr. Rippons that he could not comment on any questions such as that when there are two pending investigations, one from the State Prosecutor's Office and one now which will be with Mr. Laws.

Mr. Rippons then presented a hypothetical question to the Council, "when you got sworn in, you raised your right hand and said, I swear to uphold the City Code and everything that's in it, and you raised your right hand, stood before God and said that, now knowing your attorney has just indicated that yes there is a requirement under the Code with the stipulation that if there will be any business dealings there must have been filed a written statement." On that hypothetical basis, if the Code stipulates that, he asked Council, "would you see in that scenario that that would be something that is contradictory to the City Code that you raised your right hand and swore to enforce?"

Commissioner Rice responded, "sure, I think so."

Commissioner Swafford's response was, "I've already referred to our attorney and he's already given the answer."

Commissioner Saunders said, "if I understand the City Code correctly, it says if you are holding office and you receive cash and/or gifts from a person doing business with the City at that time, then you must file a disclosure statement. I do not construe it to mean that I have to file my financial statement about my earnings (I have nothing to hide because I do them with IRS), but I guess I'm getting confused when you said file a financial statement, that I'm not understanding exactly." Mr. Rippons responded, "your point earlier is well taken that if there is a gift, there is also, and correct me if I'm wrong Mr. Collison, stipulation under the Code that says you cannot conduct business with the City unless you have disclosed that you had a financial interest." Mr. Rippons then asked Commissioner Saunders, knowing that a financial statement was not disclosed, "do you see that that is a violation of City Code?" Commissioner Saunders answered, "I'm going to let the City attorney answer that. I'm not an attorney." Mr. Rippons said he is not asking for a legal opinion. Commissioner Saunders then stated, "I decline to answer."

Commissioner Watkins said he has been a Commissioner for 30 years and he has never signed one, "I've never been asked to sign one ...and when somebody asks me to do it, I'd be happy to.."

Commissioner Vickers said in his three years as Commissioner, no one asked him to sign such a statement and Commissioner Saunders stated it is required "only if you had received finances, gifts or compensation from a company or an individual while they're doing business with the City, while you hold your seat." Mr. Rippons added, "or if you are conducting business..(at this time, Commissioner Swafford asked Mr. Rippons to "please quit pointing at me, don't point at me please. Thank you, it's very rude.)

Commissioner Watkins then asked Mayor Wooten if Council could move on. Mr. Rippons said that the majority of people that did vote, and have an opinion, did say that this is a violation of the law.

Commissioner Rice said, "I think that the other point that you probably need to make is that there are times when you originally have no intent to do business with anybody. So at a particular point in time, you have no need to nor any obligation to do so. I think your point is saying is when you cross that line is when that needs to be done."


Mr. Gage Thomas stated that the people at the front table do their jobs to the utmost of their ability and have done so for their term. The system is made of of checks and balances and everything is done to keep things in balance. It doesn't make any sense to have just one person be the Ethics Committee. He questioned even if Victor Laws handles this, he will be compensated by the City and might possibly be bias towards the City. Mr. Thomas feels an independent group is needed and hopes that the Ethics Commission will be set up the way it should have been set up "from the get go."

Mayor Wooten said again, at the risk of being repetitious, "I think it is utterly asinine to think that the City Clerk is going to sit in judgment on the people who pay his salary."

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:58 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, October 25, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer