Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RESPONSE TO PROPOSED SPECIAL CALLED MEETING NOTICE

Dear Members of the Council, Local Press and Department Heads:

The City Clerk has received a notice attempting to call a special meeting of our city council. This notice reads:

Special Called Meeting 

We the undersigned Aldermen of the City of Helena-West Helena hereby call a special called meeting at 5:00 PM in the City Council Room today, January 13th.

The agenda items will be the overriding of the Mayor's 5 Vetoes plus setting the second council meeting of January to January 22nd.

/s/ Jay Hollowell  /s/ Tommy Hunt /s/ Bruce Hudson


Arkansas law on this matter is clear. Arkansas Code Annotated Section 14-53-502(b)(2)(B) (2007) states: "The mayor, or any three (3) aldermen, may call special meetings in such manner as may be provided by ordinance." Our ordinance states: "[w]hen any three (3) aldermen shall desire to call a special meeting of the City Council, they shall notify the Mayor in writing of such desire, stating the object or objects of such meeting and the Mayor shall thereupon issue the notice provided (by our ordinance)."

First, I will establish a meeting for the 22nd of January 2009 without the need for any special called meeting. This was the plan already. The council decided to meet Thursday, January 22, 2009 to pass the budget.

Second, veto overrides can be lawfully done in regular meetings only. I have attached the appropriate code section to this letter setting out what Arkansas law requires. I, as Mayor, am required to let the clerk know about my veto within the five (5) or six (6) days allowed by law. I am then required to draft my reasons for my veto and place them before the council at the next regular meeting. At that time, the council may override the veto by a sufficient number of votes.

Out of caution, I have spoken with our city attorney and Mr. Don Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Arkansas Municipal League. I attempted to reach Mr. Hayes. I left him a voice message. Our city attorney and Mr. Zimmerman concur (agree) that the veto override must occur in a regular council meeting.

Vetoes are geared toward giving the public an opportunity to participate in the deliberations of governing bodies. The public can hear about or read about the actions of the body and call or otherwise communicate with their representatives and express their concerns on those matters. The regular meeting requirement makes sense because otherwise a veto would be futile. The city council could literally meeting two (2) hours after a veto has been announced and override the veto before the general public has been made aware of the issue or the mayor's expressions regarding the veto.

I have not been asked to call a special called meeting. In addition, I will not present my vetoes other than at a regular council meeting.

Therefore, there can be no lawful special called meeting on the issue of vetoes and because I will set up the meeting on the 22nd, it would be a waste of time to meet and set that meeting date.

I would like to hear from the members of the council as to whether you intend to continue with the budget workshop session scheduled for 5:00 p.m. today.

Sincerely,


James F. Valley

A.C.A. § 14-43-504 

West's Arkansas Code Annotated Currentness
Title 14. Local Government
Subtitle 3. Municipal Government (Chapters 36 to 69)
View the full text of all sections at this level Chapter 43. Government of Cities of the First Class
View the full text of all sections at this level Subchapter 5. Powers and Duties Generally
Current Section§ 14-43-504. Mayor


(a) The mayor of the city shall be its chief executive officer and conservator of its peace. It shall be his special duty to cause the ordinances and regulations of the city to be faithfully and constantly obeyed.

(b) The mayor shall:

(1) Supervise the conduct of all the officers of the city, examine the grounds of all reasonable complaints made against them, and cause all their violations of duty or other neglect to be properly punished or reported to the proper tribunal for correction;

(2) Have and exercise the power conferred on sheriffs, within the city limits, to suppress disorder and keep the peace; and

(3) Perform such other duties compatible with the nature of his office as the city council may from time to time require.

(c) Repealed.

(d) The mayor shall, at the second regular meeting of the council in each year, and at such other times as he shall deem expedient, report to the council the municipal affairs of the city and recommend such measures to it as to him may seem advisable.

(e) The mayor of any city of the first class shall, in addition to the powers and duties already pertaining to that office, be clothed with, and exercise and perform, the following:

(1) A mayor shall have the power to veto, within five (5) days, Sundays excepted, after the action of the city council thereon, any ordinance, resolution, or order adopted or made by the council, or any part thereof, which in his judgment is contrary to the public interests.

(2)(A) In case of a veto, before the next regular meeting of the council, the mayor shall file in the office of the city clerk, to be laid before that meeting, a written statement of his reasons for so doing.

(B) No such ordinance, resolution, or order, or part thereof, vetoed by the mayor shall have any force or validity unless, after the written statement is laid before it, the council shall, by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of all the aldermen elected thereto, pass it over the veto.


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Honorable James F. Valley
MAYOR - Helena West Helena
P O Box 248
Helena-West Helena, 72342
870-572-3421 Phone
870-572-5034 Fax
870-817-4035 Cell

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