Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No quorum: Hedge-Morrell, Johnson absent at special City Council meeting

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM

City Council members Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Jon Johnson were both no-shows today at a City Council meeting today, once again leaving the city's legislative branch with only four present members, one short of quorum, and unable to vote on any legislation. The four present members — at-large Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, at-large Councilwoman Stacy Head, District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer and District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry — were, however, able to make the most of what quickly turned into, basically, a press event, shaming the two absent members for bringing city government to a standstill.

"There is a lot of city business at stake that's lying dormant, and that's disgraceful," Clarkson said.

Today's meeting was called in order to wrap Council's May 3 agenda, still unfinished after Hedge-Morrell and Johnson walked out in the middle of that meeting. Among those items was the confirmation of urban planning consultant Errol George as the interim District B Council member. That seat has been vacant since Head assumed the at-large seat.

(More after the jump)

If or when he's confirmed, George will serve until November. He is prohibited from running for his own term in the Nov. 6 election. If, however, Council is unable to vote before June 1 — 30 days after Head's May 2 swearing in left District B vacant — Mayor Mitch Landrieu may appoint an interim Council member.

"I hope you guys can get a quorum some day," George said today.

All remaining May 3 legislation is now pushed to the May 17 regular meeting. Other items include budget transfers to fund overtime pay for the New Orleans Police Department's Sexual Assault Investigation Cold Case program, the approval of more than $13,000 in allocations to local groups from the Harrah's Community Support Grant Program and a resolution to support the recommendation of the Crescent City Connection Task Force that bridge tolls not be allowed to expire this year.

Those items will continue to languish if Hedge-Morrell and Johnson are again absent on Thursday.

Cue Jackie Clarkson end-quote: "I hope everyone realizes that this is a big thriving city that's on the move, on the go. And you can't stop city government."

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