In early April, Valdosta City Council members voted almost unanimously to approve the submission of a plan to HUD that would address socio-economic problems for citizens — except for District 1 council member James Wright.
“I felt as if we didn’t have enough time to review the document,” said Wright, as the 100 page document was not provided until the day before the vote.
The document in question is the “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing” and was prepared by a Texas firm, J-QUAD Planning Group. The study is required of any city that receives funds directly under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program though the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which Valdosta became eligible for in 2004.
According to the minutes of the 5 April 2012 Valdosta City Council meeting, Council Wright wanted to delay voting on the document because there was a lot of public interest in it. Mayor Gayle pointed out it was simply a pro-forma analysis required by HUD, and not a plan. Council Vickers said they could form a committee to make a plan. But the council didn’t seem to include formation of such a committee in the motion to accept the analysis that finally passed.
Former electoral opponents met Tuesday as FVCS held
its final meeting,
with Rusty Griffin, Vice-Chair of CUEE,
watching at the MLK Monument as
Sam Allen, President of Friends of
Valdosta Schools (FVCS) announced the dissolution of FVCS.
In addition to FVCS regulars such as JC Cunningham,
Chamber Chair Tom Gooding was there,
as were current Valdosta Mayor Sonny Vickers and
Mayor-Elect John Gayle, plus re-elected Valdosta City Council At-Large Ben Norton.
Valdosta School Superintendent Cason was there.
I didn’t see Lowndes Superintendent Smith,
although various members of
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But what does Valdosta’s first black mayor say about it?
“Just Vote No,” the Mayor chants from a podium.
Mayor Sonny Vickers is one of the strongest opponents of the consolidation
plan. “The group that’s pushing this has no authority. No kind of plan to
tell us anything. Because they are not on the board. So they cannot tell
us anything specific about what’s going to happen,” says Mayor Vickers.
This is the same method used in 2003 when former Mayor
James H. Rainwater died before the election.
Council appointed David Sumner interim mayor.
According to the VDT 31 August 2011:
At that time, Councilman David Sumner assumed the role of mayor, but had
to resign his council seat to do so. He had already qualified to rerun
for his seat in the November 2003 election, was re-elected to his seat
and stepped down as mayor at the end of 2003, re-assuming his duties as
a newly elected councilman at the beginning of 2004.
If they don’t appoint Vickers interim mayor tomorrow,
the Valdosta City Council will probably appoint somebody else.
According to the VDT today:
Vickers is among those being considered for appointment by council,
along with Dexter Sharper and David Sumner, who are also former council
members. Vickers pointed out that he did not submit his name for
consideration, but rather it was mentioned in conversations with other
School consolidation ordinance introduction @ VCC 25 August 2011 Part 1 of 2:
Regular Session, Valdosta City Council (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 25 August 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.
The Valdosta City Council could also hold an ethics investigation
of their own appointees to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority,
on the topic of why those appointees are in favor of a project with
demonstrated health hazards to the community.
In a recent Valdosta council meeting, longtime councilman Sonny Vickers
asked if there was any way to put the biomass issue to rest once and for
all. The good news, Councilman Vickers, is that there is and it’s all
in the city’s hands.
The Industrial Authority signed an agreement with Wiregrass Power LLC
which allows the company to purchase the land from the Authority and
proceed with the project on its own. Although the Authority hasn’t
yet voted on the issue, it appears that they don’t have a choice and
may be compelled to honor the agreement.
Compelled? Give me a break!
VLCIA has an attorney, and one of its board members is an attorney.
If they can’t find a way to break a land purchase contract because
conditions have changed, they need new legal counsel.
Two weeks ago I delivered the official NAACP letter to all City Council
members (and Mayor Fretti) asking for a written response as to their
position on biomass and selling reclaimed water to the Wiregrass, LLC,
No response. Not one.
I have heard that at least two Council members refuse to do so because
“it might be used against them.”
Citizens are entitled to hear where their elected officials stand on
these issues. At least Councilmen Vickers, Wright, and Yost have stated
publicly that they support biomass, even though black infants are already
dying in Valdosta at a rate twice as high as white infants. According
to Mr. Wright,