Gray attempts to fire Dawes during aldermen meeting

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An alderman attempted to fire a city official at Tuesday’s meeting.

The motion failed, but Alderman James “Ricky” Gray said he was not happy with the way Building Inspector Paul Dawes addressed dilapidated houses in town.

“There have been too many department heads disrespecting elected officials,” Gray said.

Email newsletter signup

Alderman Bob Pollard said he would like to discuss any termination before action was taken.

The motion failed 4-2, with Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis seconding Gray’s motion.

“As long as I’m on the board, every meeting here on out, that motion will be made,” Gray said.

Dawes was silent during the exchange.

In past meetings, Gray has asked for updates on the status of demolishing dilapidated buildings and occasionally scolded Dawes.

The process of demolishing dilapidated private buildings requires the owners be notified and given a chance to correct the situation.

Alderman Theodore “Bubber” West moved Dawes be evaluated. After comments from Mathis, he amended his motion to include all department heads, beginning with Dawes.

Alderman David Massey said that although he agreed there should be a process to evaluate city employees, he disagreed with the way the topic was approached.

“People respond to the way you treat them,” Massey said. “If you continuously run them down and belittle them in a public forum, they’re not going to respond to you in a positive manner. I find (the way it was approached) mean-spirited, and I don’t think it helps morale.”

West said he did not intend for his motion to be mean-spirited. The motion passed with no opposition.

In other business:

4In a 3-2 split (West abstaining), the board upheld two variance recommendations from the zoning commission after two hearings.

4The board approved a public hearing to be set April 24 to address the new zoning code. The new code condenses ordinances and re-classifies some city zoning.

4In a 4-2 split, the board approved an ordinance granting the Natchez Water Works commission the authority to exempt fees for water connection for nonprofit groups and projects that would bring economic development.

The ordinance was spurred by an agreement with developers building a hotel across from the convention center. The fee waived for that project would be around $8,400, attorney Walter Brown said. Mathis and Gray voted against the motion.

4The board approved a bid of $52,157.38 to go to the low bidder for supplies for new traffic signs.

4The board voted to spend roughly $17,000, adding to $20,000 in grant money to renovate the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Building.

4The board took bids under advisement for six-month supplies and to build a city Web site.

4The board approved a low bid of roughly $102,000 to lay an addition to the convention center parking lot.

4The board met in executive session in a finance meeting to discuss personnel issues in the law enforcement department and economic development regarding Corrections Corporation of America and Emerald Star casino and resort prior to the regular meeting.