Videos: Rezoning, two grants, fire, water, diversity and transparency @ VCC 2013-03-07

Still more about the recent flooding and water issues in these videos of the 7 March 2013 Valdosta City Council Regular Session, by City Manager Larry Hanson, Council Robert Yost excoriated the VDT, former City Engineer Von Shipman defended the city. Multiple citizens brought up issues of diversity and local government transparency.

Here’s the agenda, with links to the videos and a few notes.

5:30 PM Thursday, March 7, 2013
  1. Opening Ceremonies
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation
    3. Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag
  2. Awards and Presentations
    1. Consideration of the March, 2013 Employee of the Month Award (Jeffrey Talley, Fire Department).
  3. Minutes Approval
    1. Valdosta City Council – Regular Meeting – Feb 21, 2013 5:30 PM
  4. Public Hearings
    1. Consideration of an Ordinance to rezone 0.5 acres from Single-Family Residential (R-6) zoning to Multi-Family Residential (R-M) zoning as requested by Jim Sineath (File No. VA-2013-01). The property is located at 411 West Mary Street. The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission reviewed this request at their February Regular Meeting and recommended approval (7-0 vote).

      Here’s the Planning Commission deliberation on VA-2013-01 at their 7 March 2013 meeting. Interesting that the Valdosta City Council agenda cites the February Planning Commission meeting and has a different applicant (Jim Sineath instead of Turner Brooks LLC). City Planner Matt Martin presented. City Council unanimously approved this rezoning.

  5. Bids, Contracts, Agreements and Expenditures
    1. Consideration of a request to approve the 2014 Southern Hospitality Group Workcamp Agreement.

      Mara Register presented. It’s about improving homes here. Unanimous approval.

  6. Local Funding and Requests
    1. Consideration of a request to approve the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Action Plan.

      Mara Register presented. Unanimous approval.

    2. Consideration of bids for the Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program (LMIG) for street resurfacing.

      Scruggs Company had the low bid of $538,222, which was unanimously accepted.

  7. City Manager’s Report
  8. Council Comments
    • Robert Yost v VDT. Thanked manager and staff for hiring of new personnel director and fire chief. Flooding caused several people to have move out of their homes. Commended response by several departments of city staff. Complained about the accuracy of the Valdosta Daily Times, both reporter and editorial staff. Said maybe editorial staff needed to be replaced. Specifically complained about reporting about berm, health effects, etc. Especially about the 80% of the city claim, and about purported flooding of the hospital. Read from VDT editorial Planning for ‘a little rain’. Admitted he was wrong to think a 100 year flood wouldn’t happen again in four years. Tried to dictate to the newspaper that it should print entire answers and leave out its own views. Recommended VDT editorials not contradict themselves, and that stories should use sources. Asked for apologies for inaccurate stories to be public, and for hiring competent people to work at the newspaper.

  9. Citizens to be Heard
    • Von Shipman, former City Engineer, talked about flooding history.

      He praised SPLOST and referred to the recent flooding as “unfortunate”.

    • Leigh Touchton: defended the VDT about water issues and talked about diversity
    • Floyd Rose: lack of diversity on city staff and tried to get arrested

      Mayor declined to arrest him and had him ejected from the room instead.

    • A citizen tried to yield time to Floyd Rose.

      Mayor said no.

    • George Boston Rhynes: diversity in the school system and local government transparency.

      He also talked about a need for local government to interact more with the citizens. Specifically he suggested the city should organize videoing its own meetings and distribute via TV, web, or CD to radio and TV stations. Why? Freedom of speech and press.

      And repeatedly I see people come to this mic, same at the school board of education meeting, same at the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners meeting. It is as if though when the Attorney General put out that little red pamphlet about open government and the sunshine law it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

      In the Library they got us in a 9 foot by 4 oblong square for us to stand for all the cameras and the TV stations. In the County Commission they put us in a little pyramid square that leaves Ms. Gretchen hardly get her camera in. Something’s wrong in Valdosta.

      He continued with criticism of the black preachers in the community for not doing much about the problems, especially of race. He added:

      The things I put on bostongbr YouTube I could’t put on there unless somebody in a position, often white, gave me information! But they are afraid, just like black folks are afraid. And I don’t know why they are so afraid. But I don’t want to see them afraid no more.

      I can attest to that same problem. George said he did what he did because of love.

  10. Adjournment

Here’s a video playlist:

Videos: Rezoning, two grants, fire, and water
Regular Session, Valdosta City Council (VCC),
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 7 March 2013.