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Ellis questions council’s vote to fill vacant seat


It appears as though it didn’t take very long for the LaFayette City Council to fill the vacated seat created when Stevie Rowe resigned his post as the District C councilman at the Dec. 23 meeting. At Monday nights meeting, the council voted to appoint Eric Vines as the new District C representative, but questions were raised about the validity of the appointment.

Councilman Terry Mangram made the recommendation and Councilman David Ennis seconded it. Councilman Mike Ellis questioned making such a quick decision, noting that several people have expressed interest in the post. “This is the first time we’ve talked about it,” Ellis said. He recommended meeting as a council later to discuss possible replacements, but a motion to do so was never made. On a role call vote the council approved Vines, with Ellis the lone member to vote against it.

Later in the meeting, Ellis requested that City Attorney Mac Tucker look into Alabama Code- 11-44D-4 section 8 subsection a and b which states that if a council term has been declared vacant and has one year or more remaining, the council shall call for a special election to fill the vacancy. Such election shall be held not less than 60 days nor more than 90 days from the date such vacancy occurred. Rowe had a little less that three years left on his term. Tucker said he would look into the statute and whether it applies to a municipality the size of LaFayette.

The council addressed several issues at Monday’s meeting, which was the first of 2014. Notably, they declared an emergency due to water pressure problems on Alabama Ave. E. between 3rd St. NE and 1st Ave SE. Several residents in that area have experience significant decreases in water pressure over the past few weeks, and two residents have basically lost all water pressure. Water Distribution and Waste Collection Superintendent Jeff Williams said that his department had diligently been looking for a possible leak in the water line that would have caused the problem, but none were located. He said it appears as though corrosion is the culprit and recommended the line be replaced. After some discussion Councilman Ennis made the motion to declare the situation an emergency and made another motion to allow Mr. Williams, Water and Wastewater Superintendent Katie Hill, Mayor Barry Moody and City Clerk Louis T. Davidson to take action to get the work started as soon as possible. Ennis also recommended trying to determine a temporary fix for those residents without water. Both motions passed unanimously.

Before adjourning, some council members addressed comments that Mr. Rowe had made after announcing his resignation at the Dec. 30 in which he criticized current council members. An article on the comments appeared in the Jan. 1 edition of The Sun.

Councilwoman Tammie Williams quoted a line in that article in which Rowe criticizes her. From the article Rowe’s comments were, “Ms. Tammie, you are one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. You are very knowledgeable, and I think if you would spread some of that knowledge around with some of the young guys here, I think ya’ll can accomplish a whole lot more than you can by saying ‘I’m not going to work with them, I hate them.’”

“First of all I’ve never said I would not work with anyone on this council and I’ve never said that I hate anyone on this council,” Councilwoman Williams said Monday. “I guess Mr. Rowe had a personal interview after the council meeting was over because that definitely was not said at that podium and I want the people of LaFayette to know that I do not have time or energy to spend hating anyone.

“I’m going to do to each one of our council members what I would expect them to do to me and that’s respect them. I’m not going to kiss anybody’s behind, that’s not going to happen. But I don’t hate anybody that is sitting up here and I just want that to be in the paper because I didn’t get the chance to rebut to Mr. Rowe’s face and I think he had the opportunity to say it behind my back.

“I don’t appreciate the fact that I didn’t get a chance to respond to this and it came out and I had to see it. I can work with anybody and will work with anybody.”

“I don’t blame you for making that statement because It appeared that he possibly said it up here but as far as the validity of it, I wouldn’t give the man two cents,” Councilman Ennis said. “How a person construes your decisions, your votes and your attitude is entirely up to them, but if you really want to know what’s on my mind or what I think then ask me. I have no reason to not give my honest opinion about anything but you’ve got to at least try to communicate and work with other people and give them the same respect that you want. The commentary he made, it was infantile and not much comment (in response) was made that day except for to qualify a point or two.”

After the meeting, Chris Busby of The LaFayette Sun, who was covering the meeting as well as the Dec. 23rd one, informed Williams that no meeting or interview with Rowe occurred outside the council chambers and that comments printed were said by Rowe during the Dec. 23 meeting. Busby also noted that the meeting had been recorded and a copy of that recording was available to anyone who wished to hear it to confirm Rowe’s comments.