Aldermen OK suspension of four city employees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2001

After almost three hours behind closed doors Tuesday, the Natchez Board of Aldermen approved suspension of four city employees for violations of the civil service code. Two Natchez Police officers and two Natchez Fire Department employees were suspended without pay for durations of time ranging from 8 to 24 hours.

Ward 2 Alderman James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray voted against the suspension of one of the police officers.

He said later he was not comfortable voting for the suspension because he didn’t have enough information about the incident.

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&uot;They had problems with this before I came (into office), and I felt if I didn’t know anything about it, I shouldn’t vote,&uot; he said.

Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West was not present at the meeting because he was detained while returning from Jackson, and Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux left following roll call.

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff said he could not say what the violations were, but none of the four cases were related.

The cases had built up over the Christmas holidays and happened by chance to fall on the same aldermen meeting, he said.

According to civil service procedures, employees charged with code violations by a department head are entitled to a due process hearing before the board of aldermen if the punishment exceeds a reprimand, Huff said.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said he did not think the length of the executive session was excessive.

&uot;When dealing with someone’s record, I don’t think you can take too long,&uot; he said.

But Arceneaux said she was frustrated by the long session and could have made arrangements with her teaching job if she had known what items were to be discussed. &uot;I just felt like it could have been planned better,&uot; she said.

In other business, the board:

4Voted to extend a moratorium on applications for new telecommunication towers in the city until Feb. 27. The 60-day moratorium expired Tuesday.

City Planner David Preziosi said the planning staff needed more time to review tower ordinances from other cities to make a recommendation on changes to the existing ordinance.

4Approved extension of a moratorium on traffic solicitations on streets within city limits.

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff requested the moratorium, which expired in mid-December, until he could investigate ways to regulate the solicitations safely and protect the city from liability.