Last night’s council meeting reportedly lasted 6 hours, although the public portion ended about 9:30pm before council went into closed session. During the regular open session, Council, or rather part of Council, argued whether a resolution to hire Chicago-based Houseal Lavigne to perform work on revising and updating the city’s Zoning Code for $74,970. A local company, H3, had submitted a bid for the work for $30,000 less. Council Member Linda Lipka led with an objection to the resolution. Lipka felt that H3 was competent and had better knowledge about working with local municipalities and the challenges faced by historical redlining practices, and that they would be more alert to the damaging legacies of the now illegal practice and seek to mitigate damage caused by the practice. Lipka was also adamant that the $30,000 difference in cost could be better used by the city, such as by purchasing more post-third properties for redevelopment. These bids were the result of regrouping after the council rejected consideration for a larger contract that was presented to them in May. (You can review that here.)
Elliott Liebson explained that staff and the Planning Commission viewed Houseal Lavigne as the better choice, stating that their presentation, report, as well as their professional credentials were better. Liebson expected a more interactive product with graphic illustrations. During discussion, only Council Member Fran Griffin asked questions about the objection. No council member made substantive comments in favor of spending more, except for Griffin’s line of questioning that this selection might help lighten staff workload. Council Member Burrow also asked questions and made comments during the discussion. Griffin moved to vote on the Resolution and Council Member Phedra Nelson seconded. Despite the lack of favorable comments voiced for the Resolution, it was passed with a vote of 4-3, with Griffin, Noah, Jones, and Nelson in favor. Lipka’s response to the vote was “Well, you just wasted the city’s money.”
Other highlights from the meeting:
- In public comments, Erica Brooks reminded listeners of how she fought to keep the bus line in Ferguson. She also noted that she had received notice that as of November 29, Metro was suspending service after 8 pm and she wants the city to correct this. [The public notice from Metro, including #79 Ferguson service, can be found here. Metro states this is due to the shortage of drivers and that delays and cancellations have been occurring daily, creating delays for riders.]
- Police Chief Frank McCall reported on a successful community policing meeting.
- Fire Chief John Hampton had Albert Harrold speak on the work of his highly successful Strength and Honor program for educating children. It has provided mentoring and tutoring to many of Ferguson’s youth.
- Greg Stump presented on the Pension Fund. Ferguson’s fund remains fully funded, an increasingly uncommon status among local governments.
- A proclamation was read honoring Bob McGartland for his selection as Business Person of the Year by the North County Chamber of Commerce.
- A proclamation was read honoring Rance Thomas for his selection as honoree of the Zykan Family Legacy Award.
- Resolutions correcting the city budget for purposes of audit reporting were made.
- Linda Lipka, in her miscellaneous comments, thanked Chief Hampton and the Fire Department for their assistance to her during the last council meeting. She explained that her sudden absence during the meeting was due to an abnormal heart rhythm (SVT) and that she was taken to the hospital, where she eventually rejoined the council meeting by Zoom.