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City council needs to straighten out votes
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Editor, Having attended my first Hinesville City Council meeting on Oct. 7, I was amazed that our mayor, who also chairs the meeting, got the vote wrong in two consecutive meetings — one held on Sept. 16, and the most recent meeting on Oct. 7.
You may remember the outcry surrounding the Sept. 16 meeting regarding a vote wherein the mayor took it upon himself to vote in the affirmative for one of the city council members who opted to remain silent during a vote on a motion. Ethics violation? Maybe.
Then on Oct. 7, I, along with six others — including a reporter from the Coastal Courier who was covering the meeting and one of the city councilmen — observed the following: The mayor called for a motion to rezone a parcel of land located on South Main Street. Our newly elected councilman, Mr. Floyd, made a motion to vote on the rezoning and it was seconded by Councilman Jenkins. The mayor asked for any discussion and there was none. He then called for the vote, directing those in favor of the motion to let it be known by a show of hands. Two hands went up (Mr. Floyd and Mr. Jenkins.) The mayor then asked for those opposed and three hands went up (Mr. Fraiser, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Shaw).
The Mayor then announced that it was three in favor and two opposed and the motion is carried. At this point, a man sitting next to me said, “That’s backwards.” I told him that I agreed. Mind you, every person who was sitting in the audience during that vote — assuming they were paying attention — saw the same thing. And I ask that each person who witnessed what I just described to call the Coastal Courier and give them your name and phone number in case you need to be contacted.
I tried to talk to the city attorney about this matter and, through one of his assistants, he told me that I should contact the city clerk. I did contact the city clerk, who told me that she would contact the city attorney and the mayor. Well, she did call me back the morning of Oct. 11 and said that she spoke with the mayor and he said the vote will stand as recorded in the taping of the meeting. Another Ethics violation? Possibly.
I believe that the vote as it was announced should be reversed to reflect the true vote count. The mayor must pay attention to know how many voted and how they voted, and not just announce what he thinks the votes were.
My other concern is this: If the mayor cannot run a meeting of the city council, then it begs the question of whether he is capable of running the city of Hinesville.
I also question why a member of the city council or the city attorney, who was present, did not raise an objection to the wrong announcement of the vote at the time it occurred.
Stay tuned. This is not over.

— Leon D. Stearns

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