BAKER — Lame-duck City Council members and Mayor Harold Rideau verbally clashed with incoming members and the city judge Tuesday over appointments to city posts for the new terms that begin Sunday.
The arguments grew heated at times with Mayor Harold Rideau raising his voice to criticize his opponents, and Councilman Charles Vincent standing over the mayor, warning him not to raise his voice.
After about an hour of bickering, Police Chief Mike “Snapper” Knaps asked the old and new council members to “help me do my job” by leaving their differences in the council chamber and respecting one another.
“We have a good city,” Knaps said in asking the officials to work together.
Rideau, Vincent and Robert Young will begin new four-year terms on Sunday, while council members A.J. Walls, Carlon “Frank” Simpson and Fred O. Russell are leaving after being defeated in the spring elections.
Young already is serving out the remainder of the term begun by long-time Councilman Jimmy Pourciau, who resigned because of his health.
Joining Vincent and Young on the council for the next four years are Joyce Burges, John Givens and former Mayor Pete Heine.
The central issue was whether the outgoing council could appoint a council clerk and hire an auditor to serve in the next term, and ratify Rideau’s appointment of a new city attorney, prosecutor and treasurer.
In successive votes, the council voted 3-2 to concur with the mayor’s appointment of Ken Fabre, now city prosecutor, to take the place of City Attorney Ron Wall, who is retiring, and Monise Scott as city treasurer.
The council also voted 3-2 to hire Mary Sue Stages to audit the city’s financial records for the fiscal year that ends Saturday and to reappoint Angela Canady as council clerk.
Walls, Simpson and Russell were in the majority on the four ballots, while Young and Vincent dissented.
Vincent tried to head off the debate by going into a closed-door session to discuss “what’s under new business” on the agenda, but Wall said the move would violate the state Open Meetings Law.
Vincent then tried, with support from Heine, Burges, City Court Judge Kirk Williams and others in the audience, to delay council concurrence on the mayoral appointments to allow the new members to vote on them.
“Ron (Wall) is retiring. I need a city attorney. Why do you want to hold off on my appointments?” Rideau said. He did say he would delay naming a prosecutor.
“If you have a friend, get them to apply,” Rideau told Vincent.
Vincent replied that the council “has changed drastically” in the last election, and the new members should decide whether to concur with Rideau’s appointments of a city attorney, prosecutor and treasurer.
The elections in March and April changed the council from a 4-1 white majority to a 4-1 black majority.
Heine said the mayor is not showing any courtesy to the new members by pushing the outgoing members to vote on officials who will serve the new council.
The discussion included verbal clashes between Williams, who argued council members cannot make appointments past their terms, and Wall, who said the statute the judge cited had nothing to do with a home-rule charter government such as Baker’s.
Walls, Simpson and Russell fought a delay in naming Canady and Stages because they said those council appointments had always been done in the last meeting of a council’s term.