Documenter name: Natalie McLendon

Agency holding meeting: Sulphur City Council

Date: October 11, 2022

Summary

A public hearing on Sulphur City Council’s Home Rule Charter Commission creation was tabled until next month’s meeting. This issue has previously been met with controversy from the public. There were many appointments to various positions and even more property condemnations. 

The Scene

There was standing room only in the council hall by 5:20 PM. A woman in the audience called out to Councilmember Joy Abshire that Dequincy News wrote a nice article about Abshire. The room was filled with lively conversation. KPLC and American Press were also present. City Clerk Arlene Blanchard announced that there is additional seating available in the room across the hall. 

Notes

  • City Councilmember Dru Ellender was not present for this meeting.
  • Item 10, a public hearing on an ordinance creating a Home Rule Charter Commission (a committee that would review the home rule charter, essentially the city’s constitution) for the City of Sulphur, is postponed until November 14 during the next city council regular meeting. As reported at last month’s regular meeting, Sulphur resident Sheila Broussard had previously asked the Council to table this agenda item for a month so that they could listen to the people.
  • Item 13, a public hearing on an ordinance authorizing Mayor Danahay to sign agreement with Sulphur Housing Authority for the Sanitary Sewer Lift Station Replacement Project, was removed from the agenda. 
  • An introduction by constitutional conservative candidate Judge Guy Bradberry, who is running against Judge Clayton Davis for a seat in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, is the first item on the agenda. Bradberry, who also recently campaigned at the Lake Charles City Council meeting, says he is “a man of deep faith, conservative, and my respect for the constitution is sacrosanct.” Bradberry says he has some key principles: unborn life is sacred, criminals should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and Bradberry supports early intervention, defunding the police is dangerous and Bradberry supports more funding for law enforcement, religious liberty has been threatened by “woke radicals,” “classrooms are no place for radical leftist teachings…this notion of critical race theory, whether a third or fifth grader should be choosing which gender they choose to be should not be in our classrooms,” and “our religious right and/or our right to bear arms should never be infringed.” 
  • Item 7, a Public Hearing on an ordinance amending Chapter 18, Section 4 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Sulphur – Subdivisions, passed without public comment. Because this passed, the next Agenda Item (8), successfully repealed the previous definition of “major subdivision.”
  • The City had a public hearing on an ordinance authorizing Mayor Mike Danahay to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the State of Louisiana Facility Planning and Control for Maplewood Pump Station, Planning and Construction, which is a step towards repairing and improving a portion of the city’s sewers. Meyer & Associates is the engineer for this project. Mayor Danahay states that the City has “been awarded $1.75 million for this pump station through the Capital Outlay Program. This is entering into that agreement with the State.” The ordinance passed without public comment. A map of city projects can be accessed here.
  • The General Fund Budget was amended through two ordinances which passed without public comment or much discussion among the council. City finance director Jennifer Thorn indicated that this is “general “housekeeping,” as she explained during the last meeting. No further discussion ensued about this agenda item. As shown in Exhibit A of the second budget amendment, the original budget adopted on June 15, 2022, and the expenditures for “Professional Services” was $2,340,300. The city estimated that the actual expenditures for professional and contractual services are expected to be more than $3.8 million. The exhibit states that this was due to unexpected Hurricane Laura Repairs and Recoveries.
  • The council introduced a Resolution authorizing the advertisement of bids for Sulphur Law Enforcement Center Storm Repairs. Bids will be awarded on November 14 at the next regular meeting.
  • In Item 23, the city amended Ordinance 682 to correct the property description of J & J Outdoor Advertising. Mayor Danahay says, “This was a piece of property that was annexed many, many years ago for that purpose for a billboard. In the process, a portion was annexed that should not have been annexed. It’s actually a right of way for Entergy. So we’re just cleaning this up. It was an oversight at that time.”

Community Perspective

No one in the audience provided public comment except for two owners of two homes set to be condemned. They received extensions.

The Debate

As there was no public comment, there was also no public debate during the meeting. The only comment request during the meeting was withdrawn because Item 10, a Public Hearing on ordinance creating a Home Rule Charter Commission for the City of Sulphur, was postponed until November 14.

Policies and Decisions

  • The following properties were on the agenda to assess condemnations. Sulphur Municipal Code indicates that when an owner “fails to appeal therefrom within the time provided in R.S. 33:4763, the mayor may proceed with the demolition or removal of the condemned building or structure.” 
    • A. 221 Canal Street, condemned
    • B. 597 West Carlton Street, condemned
    • C. 218 Audalia Street, condemned
    • D. 1529 Quince Street, condemned
    • E. 295 Beauregard Avenue, condemned
    • F. 113 Summerwood Drive, condemned
    • G. 301 Roddam Street, Owners want to renovate the whole building. Nezat has not spoken with new owners. Nezat says to give them 60 days to extend.
    • H. 211 Morgan Road, condemned
    • I. 120 Roberta Drive, The owner pulled permits and came in with scope of work. They are attempting to repair the home. 60 days amendment
    • J. 115 South Cities Service Highway, condemned
    • K. 1105 Lori Lane, Motion passed to give owner another 60 days to get the building secured

Outcomes

John Wall was appointed as Sulphur Chief of Police. Sam Mesuch was reappointed to the Sulphur Industrial Development Board. Cynthia Beverly was reappointed to the Sulphur Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Sulphur Police Detective Jeremy Cain was appointed to the Police and Fire Civil Service Board. Mary Kay Stoma was appointed to the Sulphur Housing Authority Board of Directors.

Follow-up questions

Why was the Home Rule Charter decision postponed? 

I called in to the Mayor’s Office to find out why, but Mayor Danahay declined to comment. Members of City Council could not be reached for comment. Some have said that not all of the appointments are ready. Concerned citizen Sheila Broussard, who would have given public comment, says the ordinance got rushed from the beginning.  “This affects a whole city,” Broussard said. “I didn’t notice politics until my water turned brown.” Broussard states she has walked many blocks in multiple districts, and the majority of those she talks with have signed her petition which calls upon the City Council to hold an election, rather than appoint the Commission. 

Documents available 

  1. Agenda
  2. Resolutions and Orders for 10-11-2022 (Includes Exhibit A)
  3. Approved Meeting Minutes from 9-12-2022

Video: Part 1

Part 2

https://youtu.be/EYgO2SRBauY