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Jefferson County
Port Arthur City Council
by Garrett Bryce
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Port Arthur City Council on Tuesday voted 2-6, with only Cal Jones and Willie “Bae” Lewis in favor, to deny a motion to submit a plan to change the city's city council make-up, by deleting City Council Position 5 and Position 6, to the Department of Justice for implementation under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Position 5 is held by Lewis, and 6 is held by Osman Swati. The council will then consist of four district positions, two at-large seats, and the mayor beginning in May, reducing the council from nine to seven members total, including the mayor.

Lewis had requested the item, and a lengthy discussion was held prior to the vote.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of “race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups.”

Lewis noted that there have been several lawsuits in other cities regarding similar issues, costing the city.

“The courts have been jammed up with lawsuits,” he said, stating that cities have been losing such lawsuits.

He favored seeking approval from the Department of Justice to avoid such a lawsuit in Port Arthur.

“Let's give our citizens an opportunity, not to have to go and file and injunction,” Lewis said.

However, the city attorney responded that the process for such concerns is filing a complaint.

The city council voted unanimously to table action regarding appointment of members to the Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

The city council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Southern Tire Mart for the purchase of tires and tubes, with a projected budgetary impact of $400,000.

The city council voted unanimously to grant a pipeline permit to Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC for the installation of a 16-inch natural gas pipeline within the city limits.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the appointments of Cal Rutherford, Mary Ann Reid and Graciela Alvarez to the Civil Service Commission.

The city council voted unanimously to table action regarding an ordinance adding the Port Arthur Electrical Advisory Board as a board, and creating said board.

The city council voted 5-3, with Charlotte Moses, Osman Swati and Mayor Derrick Freeman opposed, to approve an amendment to the city's Electrical Code regarding the definition of a one or two family dwelling unit electrician.

The city council voted unanimously to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters Local 397.

The agreement is for a one year period, and includes a 3 percent pay increase effective retroactively October 1, 2017. The agreement also includes changes to holidays and wages.

All other items were approved by unanimous vote. Council Member Kaprina Richardson Frank absent. Agenda

To view a video of the meeting, Click Here




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