Friday, May 4, 2007

Q & A from Mayor Roy responding to Town Talk.

Below is a copy of a Q & A memo sent to local news organizations in response to an article about security at future Alexandria City Council meetings. It is unedited and presented in full.
TO: News Media

FROM: Office of the Mayor

City of Alexandria

RE: “Roy seeks to tighten security at meetings”

The Town Talk, May 4, 2007

DATE: May 4, 2007

Questions and Answers

Why did council members say they were taken by surprise? And, why would they be concerned about increasing security?

As far as the council being surprised, the security issue is nothing new, and they, indeed, had verbally stated their concerns. If you look at their offices, they are completely locked down from the front entrance of the department to the door connected to the council chambers. Only those with the code are able to access the rooms behind the actual city council chambers. The suggestion for a security plan, made by Chuck Johnson, who serves both the Administration and the City Council, was to ensure that everyone in the council chambers would be provided with the same level of security currently provided to the council alone except in open session.

The issue here is not about security. The Administration does not engage in surprise tactics, although it constantly deals with such action by the city council which uniformly seeks to broaden its role from legislating to day-to-day operations.

In city government, there are two branches – the City Council, led by the City Council President, and the Administration, led by the Mayor. The City Council’s role is to authorize ordinances that govern the city, and the Administration’s role is to enforce that legislation and manage the City’s operations and planning. One of those operational requirements is to do everything to protect the residents of our city, particularly when they use our public facilities.

Why is the Administration interested in increasing security?

I have no apologies for being concerned about security in this day and age. It’s easy to criticize the attention being paid to creating a security plan until something actually happens. Then the question would be “why was more not done”? The city’s administration takes its responsibility for public safety seriously and that includes everyone who attends council meetings including the councilmen, the administration and especially the residents who are in attendance.

Has there been a specific event that triggered the proposal?

To be specific, members of the administration have had real threats. In addition, we’ve had people walk into council meetings with duffel bags and other paraphernalia that seem unrelated to the reason for being at the meeting, and yes, that does raise the level of concern. But, most importantly, it is clear that an appropriate response to a threat cannot occur under the current model.

I would like to note that many of the governmental buildings in the same vicinity have strict security measures including the Rapides Parish Courthouse, Alexandria City Court, U.S. District Court and the Louisiana State Office Building.

Could the council have initiated measures to increase security?

Absolutely. Because the City Council’s chamber space is under its control, we had initially hoped that the council members would initiate additional security procedures. When nothing was forthcoming, the city attorney, who acts on the behalf of both branches of government, sent down a letter outlining his recommendations to create a more secure meeting place and simply follow existing law, which as I mentioned before, is the Administration’s job.

In the letter, it was mentioned that a Fire Department officer would be on hand to enforce capacity regulations? Why is that important?

As far as enforcing the fire code regarding legal capacity, I want to say that we’re pleased that the residents have taken an interest in city government by attending our council meetings, but overcrowding any space beyond its limits is unsafe. The capacity for the room is set through a national code and is designed to make sure that people can get out of the building quickly and efficiently in case of a fire. Again, this is the Administration enforcing a regulation that is already in place.

What about council members saying there is a lack of communication?

In reference to the comments regarding the lack of communication, I personally make concerted efforts to be available at any time day or night to speak to council members and have instructed the rest of my staff to be as accessible. Since I took office in December, I have made repeated attempts to contact Mr. Everett Hobbs by phone. He has neither answered nor returned numerous phone calls since that time. Because it is vital that the City Council President and the Mayor of any city are able to share and discuss information, I have resorted to the written word in order to assure consistent communication to Mr. Hobbs and the entire council. This is not my first choice in that it extends the time it takes to get things done, but I have been left with no other options.


Anonymous said...

Since I took office in December, I have made repeated attempts to contact Mr. Everett Hobbs by phone. He has neither answered nor returned numerous phone calls since that time.

I find this puzzling to say the least. Why would he not want to speak with him and I seriously doubt that Mr. Roy would make something like this up because in the City Council meetings when they were discussing the budget you could tell in his tone that he had made repeated attempts to pass on this information. I just think it is childish for the members of the city council to not reply or at least listen to questions/comments/discussion/reasoning/plans
of the Administration. We wonder why nothing is being done, well this is probably part of the problem...ahem City Council.

Anonymous said...

Only phone records can prove whether calls were made and returned.

Anonymous said...

What possible reason would be have to disbelieve the mayor? Has he or his administration ever lied to us? On the other hand, the council has an uninterrupted history of deceipt. Did anyone really think that the Bentley would have a grand opening upon its full return to glory in August 2007 - less than 90 days away - when it still belongs to the guy that got a demolition permit for it?

Thank you Michele and KALB for shedding some light on this stuff and giving us a place to express our collective anger and frustration.

Anonymous said...

Okay...let's seriously think about this. Does one really believe that the City Council President just woke up one morning and decided, "Hey...I think I'll stop communicating with the Mayor via telephone!"
As a business owner and City Council President, I am certain that he has more pressing decisions to make on a day-to-day basis.
People, let's be serious! We all know the "cause and effect" rule. Now think about it, some thing or things caused this lack of communication between the Mayor and the City Council President. Honestly, simply acquiring the Mayor's side of the story sends a certain message. One message is this, "Oh the Mayor is really trying, but the City Council President and members are being so uncooperative."
The initial relationship between the Mayor and the City Council began nicely, but it is a known fact that the Mayor has made attempts to be verbally berating and disrespectful to the City Council members during meetings and one-on-one conversations. Now would any self-respecting individual continue to communicate with someone acting in such a manner? Of course not! For those who don't know, the Mayor decided he would not take suggestions or expressions of concern from the City Council, the City Council would take suggestions and expressions of concern from him.
The City Council is made up of very intelligent and experienced men and they would never decide to not communicate with the Mayor without there being some type of issue at hand, and it is absolutely asinine to believe otherwise.
If KALB is truly about getting the facts and the entire story, why haven't they spoken with the City Council President and members so that they may have an opportunity to participate in this intended "Q&A"?

Anonymous said...

I would hope that Pres. Hobbs would be contacted (good luck) and given and opportunity to respond to Roy's statement(s). Fairness requires it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's hope that the City Council President and the City Council members receive fairness in this matter. As a note, contacting President Hobbs and the other members of the City Council does not require 'luck', it requires respect and tact. So kudos to the media outlet that delivers those characteristics. Good evening 'balance required'...

Anonymous said...

The mayor says he's made numerous attempts to contact the president of the council. The council then whines about a lack of communication and they wonder why. It's obvious. Hobbs is NOT the mayor. He represents ONE district in our town and he is supposed to lead the council. If he refuses to answer or return phone calls from the mayor.. no matter what his excuse is.. this is a big problem the council needs to address internally. This cannot be solved by the media... who only reports what they are told. It is inexcusable that the president of the council won't communicate with the mayor. The ball is in his court....

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Alexandrians have had much luck in reaching their councilman and having their calls returned since Rick Ranson left. Either your experience is highly extraordinary or you just haven't tried to contact any of the present councilmen (or you are a member of the inner circle, have a membership in the CFS Saloon, and have something that the councilmen want/need). Roosevelt aside, none of the other councilmen treat ordinary citizens with respect or consideration except when they are making empty promises at election time.

It's really quite simple. Only one of us can be telling the truth.

Anonymous said...

"The City Council is made up of very intelligent and experienced men and they would never decide to not communicate with the Mayor without there being some type of issue at hand, and it is absolutely asinine to believe otherwise."

What city are you living in, because it sure is not Alexandria?

Anonymous said...

You know if they were doing things in the open and there was nothing to hide why would you need security.... Security seems to be the answer to not wanting other people to know what you are doing ---mighty funny that now the council wants security for all City Government offices not just for the council meetings --- seems that you can have a meeting in more places than just the council chambers