BAKER — City Council members whose terms began Sunday are poised to nullify all of the appointments made two weeks ago by outgoing council members, according to an agenda for a regular meeting Tuesday.
The appointments include those of city attorney, treasurer, council clerk and the accounting firm that will audit the city’s books for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Mayor Harold Rideau, who clashed with the incoming members and City Judge Kirk Williams in heated exchanges at the June 26 meeting, said he suspects the new council members already have planned their strategy.
“The whole agenda (of changes) came on one sheet. (Councilman) John Givens faxed it in,” Rideau said.
“Don’t put it down like I was the one pushing everything. If anything was done, it was an agreement to do it,” Givens said, explaining that he submitted what the other members wanted.
Rideau said he exercised his mayoral prerogative, as outlined in the city’s home-rule charter, to appoint Ken Fabre as city attorney and Monise Scott as city treasurer at the earlier meeting.
He delayed naming a city prosecutor, telling his opponents, “If you know someone, have them apply.”
The charter requires council concurrence on the three mayoral appointments.
Councilman Charles Vincent, the only member re-elected to a new term, objected to the lame-duck members voting on the appointments He was joined by incoming members Pete Heine, John Givens, Robert Young and Joyce Burges.
The outgoing members, Carlon Simpson, A.J. Walls and Fred Russell, voted to accept Rideau’s appointments. Young, who was finishing Jimmy Pourciau’s term, and Vincent dissented.
The same 3-2 vote prevailed when the council reappointed Angela Canady as council clerk and approved a contract with certified public accountant Mary Sue Stages to conduct the annual audit.
Vincent and his allies argued at length that the departing members were overstepping their authority in appointing the two, but Walls and Russell replied that they were following a tradition set years ago.
Simpson also said the audit would cover spending during the last year of their term and they should be allowed to select the auditor.
The Tuesday agenda includes:
- A request by Burges to declare the “City Auditor’s position as being vacant” and to request the council select an auditor by July 24.
- Moves proposed by Givens to declare the city attorney’s post vacant and enter into a contract with an interim attorney until the council concurs with Rideau’s appointment.
- Heine’s item to appoint a council clerk.
- Young’s declarations that the city treasurer and city prosecutor positions are vacant and a bid to hire a special prosecutor until the council agrees with Rideau’s appointment.
Rideau called the June 26 meeting “an ambush” because he had discussed his appointments with the new members in advance. No one voiced an objection, except for Givens, who opposed Fabre’s appointment, he said.
“I’m not sure what they’re up to. I don’t know where they’re getting their advice. I’m going to play it cool and see where they want to go,” Rideau said.
“Some of those things may be tabled,” Vincent said, adding that his fellow council members “feel strongly that they were elected on change.”
“I think the feeling is that he may be too close to the mayor,” Vincent said of Fabre. He added that the former council members once opposed Rideau’s bid to name John Olin Brown as city attorney, rather than Ron Wall, and Rideau backed down.
Heine, a former Baker mayor, said Givens stopped by his home to show him a list of the agenda items, and Heine said his name was next to the council clerk item.
He said he has nothing against Canady, but her primary city job is in the inspections department. Heine said, if the city has the money, he would like the clerk also to be in charge of public relations for Baker.
“What they did was wrong, whether it was legal or not. It’s just not right appointing people who will work with the new council,” Heine said of the June meeting.
Burges said she submitted her own request for the items on the agenda that bear her name.
“We wanted the opportunity to appoint or concur with these appointments. That’s it,” Burges said.
“It’s looking like it was done the wrong way,” Givens said.