Live coverage of Jackson City Council
7:01
Bob Wheaton: 
Thanks for joining our live coverage of tonight's Jackson City Council meeting.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:01 Bob Wheaton
7:02
Bob Wheaton: 
The City Council is now meeting in closed session to discuss contract negotiations and pending litigation, as allowed by the Open Meetings Act. The council is expected to return to open session soon.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:02 Bob Wheaton
7:03
Bob Wheaton: 
Among the agenda topics: A $1.9 million federal grant the city received that would allow the city to hire more firefighters. Some city council members have expressed concerns about accepting the money, saying the city likely will have to lay off the firefighters in two years after the grant money expires.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:03 Bob Wheaton
7:05
Bob Wheaton: 
One item that originally was on the agenda will not be discussed tonight. The City Council decided to wait before deciding whether to give City Manager Larry Shaffer a 2 percent raise. Shaffer is not at tonight's meeting. The City Council will wait until he is present to discuss the matter.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:05 Bob Wheaton
7:11
Bob Wheaton: 
City Council members also will consider a proposal to streamline city departments. The proposal from the City Council finance committee would reduce the number of departments from 17 to 12. In perhaps the most controversial change, the police and fire departments would be merged into one department.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:11 Bob Wheaton
7:13
Bob Wheaton: 
Firefighters and police officers would not be cross-trained to handle both fire and law enforcement duties. This is a touchy issue because city voters in 2011 said no to creating a public safety department that would have public safety officers trained to handle both police and fire matters. City Council members are saying the latest proposal is different than a public safety department, but the firefighters' union disagrees.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:13 Bob Wheaton
7:15
Bob Wheaton: 
Also on the agenda: a report from the chairman of the city's Human Relations Commission; a tax abatement for HCL America, the company that will bring 200 new jobs to Jackson in a project recently announced; and a change to the city's stormwater fee ordinance that would make property owners eligible for a 100 percent credit that could exempt them from paying the fee.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:15 Bob Wheaton
7:18
Bob Wheaton: 
While we're waiting for the City Council to return, feel free to submit any questions you might have about Jackson city government.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:18 Bob Wheaton
7:22
Bob Wheaton: 
Council is returning to open session.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:22 Bob Wheaton
7:26
Bob Wheaton: 
Rose Parade representatives are thanking the city for its support.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:26 Bob Wheaton
7:28
Bob Wheaton: 
Janice Sweet Fairley of the Jackson NAACP is expressing concerns about decision to eliminate Human Relations Commission. The HRC combats discrimination.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:28 Bob Wheaton
7:29
Bob Wheaton: 
She's asking the city to rename a street after Martin Luther King Jr. Mayor Martin Griffin points out the city has a community center that's called the King Center.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:29 Bob Wheaton
7:29
Bob Wheaton: 
"What are you doing with the HRC?" she asks the council.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:29 Bob Wheaton
7:30
Bob Wheaton: 
Jackson County Commissioner Jon Williams is asking city officials to participate in ice-cream-scooping contest against the county at the Jackson County Fair. Last year the city won. "So we're asking for a rematch," Williams says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:30 Bob Wheaton
7:32
Bob Wheaton: 
Tom Loveberry, president of the firefighters union, asks the city council to approve the grant to hire firefighters.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:32 Bob Wheaton
7:33
[Comment From RustyRusty: ] 
Whats the chances of them not naming after King, since we already have something named after him?
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:33 Rusty
7:33
Bob Wheaton: 
Rusty, There has been little public discussion among council members about naming something after King. Councilman Carl Breeding supports it, but I don't know for sure about others. Thanks for the question.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:33 Bob Wheaton
7:34
Bob Wheaton: 
George Brown, chairman of the Human Relations Commission, is giving the city the HRC's annual report. It will be interesting to see what he says about the recent decision to eliminate the HRC's funding.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:34 Bob Wheaton
7:35
Bob Wheaton: 
The HRC will continue to fulfill its mission event without city funding, Brown says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:35 Bob Wheaton
7:36
Bob Wheaton: 
He notes that the HRC is making recommendations on renaming a street after MLK, as requested by the City Council. The HRC also held hearings on violence in the city, he says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:36 Bob Wheaton
7:36
Bob Wheaton: 
The HRC also has studied the possibility of protecting from discrimination people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, he says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:36 Bob Wheaton
7:38
Bob Wheaton: 
The HRC hosts the annual MLK Breakfast, middle school Challenge Day and the Harold White Breakfast and sponsors an oratorical contest for student speakers, Brown says. It holds a community picnic for people from around the county. That picnic is being postponed this year because of the loss of budget dollars.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:38 Bob Wheaton
7:40
[Comment From RustyRusty: ] 
i see they are talking about a pay increase for certain members, is it already forcasted in the budget, and do they think they deserve it seeing as the unemployment rate is so high, specially in Jackson?
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:40 Rusty
7:41
Bob Wheaton: 
Rusty, I believe it is in the budget that was just passed for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The proposed increases are 2 percent cost-of-living increases.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:41 Bob Wheaton
7:42
Bob Wheaton: 
The council just voted to submit the HRC recommendations on naming a street or bridge after MLK to the council's city affairs committee. That committee will make a recommendation to the entire council.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:42 Bob Wheaton
7:45
Bob Wheaton: 
City Councilwoman Kim Jaquish is questioning the $10,000 city cost for the annual Hot Air Jubilee. Most of the cost is for police officers to work over-time during the event, says police Chief Matt Heins.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:45 Bob Wheaton
7:45
[Comment From susan gardnersusan gardner: ] 
It is crazy that the grant writer will get 53,000 dollars for writing a grant. If the city declines the grant then who pays the grant writer for their services?
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:45 susan gardner
7:46
Bob Wheaton: 
Susan Gardner,

The mayor has questioned the $53,000, too. It's based on 3 percent of the grant awarded. The city manager said that the grant writer has a good reputation for landing grants; the mayor has said it seems like anyone could have filled out the grant.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:46 Bob Wheaton
7:58
Bob Wheaton: 
I apologize for the delay. We had some technical difficulties with our Internet connection.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:58 Bob Wheaton
7:59
Bob Wheaton: 
The City Council voted to delay approval of this year's Hot Air Jubilee, saying they wanted answers to questions about whether the jubilee could reimburse the city for more of its expenses.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 7:59 Bob Wheaton
8:00
Bob Wheaton: 
Councilwoman Kim Jaquish said she was concerned the city has $10,000 in expenses related to the event in Ella Sharp Park. The expenses include police overtime.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:00 Bob Wheaton
8:01
Bob Wheaton: 
The City Council voted 7-0 to approve a tax abatement for HCL America. HCL is the company that is working with Consumers Energy and plans to bring 200 jobs to town.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:01 Bob Wheaton
8:01
Bob Wheaton: 
I wouldn't expect the City Council to actually refuse to approve the Hot Air Jubilee, because it's a popular event. But I think they're trying to reduce the cost to the city and its taxpayers.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:01 Bob Wheaton
8:12
Bob Wheaton: 
City Council voted 6-1, Councilman Carl Breeding voting no, to changes to stormwater fee ordinance that allows property owners that make efforts to reduce stormwater runoff from their property to get up to a 100 percent credit on the fee.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:12 Bob Wheaton
8:13
Bob Wheaton: 
So if you put in a large retention basin that collects stormwater, it's possible you would not have to pay the fee.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:13 Bob Wheaton
8:14
Bob Wheaton: 
City Council gives final approval to extending a moratorium temporarily banning any new medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. This was tentatively approved last month. The moratorium is in place until the city council approves an ordinance regulating medical marijuana.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:14 Bob Wheaton
8:17
Bob Wheaton: 
City Council votes 6-1 to approve new organizational structure recommended by the finance committee. The structure reduces the number of city departments. It combines police and fire into one department under one leader. There was little discussion on this matter. It's been controversial, with the firefighters union saying it essentially would create a public safety department, which was rejected by voters. Council members say it does not create a public safety department because police officers and firefighters will not be cross-trained to handle both police and fire calls.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:17 Bob Wheaton
8:19
Bob Wheaton: 
The new organizational chart that was approved was not in the council packet posted on the city website. Apparently council members just received that document tonight. I will have to make sure that the organizational chart is the same as the one recommended by the finance committee a few weeks ago.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:19 Bob Wheaton
8:22
Bob Wheaton: 
City Council votes 7-0 to approve new labor agreement with city firefighters that, if ratified by the union members, would provide for the city to receive $1.9 million federal grant.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:22 Bob Wheaton
8:23
Bob Wheaton: 
"This is a good agreement going forward for the community. It is going to provide savings in the future. It is going to bring some of our former firefighters back to the community," Mayor Martin Griffin says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:23 Bob Wheaton
8:24
Bob Wheaton: 
Check back on our website for more details about the agreement.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:24 Bob Wheaton
8:30
Bob Wheaton: 
Council votes to reclassify community relations position, now giving it the tile of ombudsman. Council also votes to make Frank Weathers, who had been community relations liaison, the ombudsman. Duties of the position will remain similar to the current duties, Mayor Martin Griffin says.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:30 Bob Wheaton
8:31
[Comment From Jana JamiesonJana Jamieson: ] 
Do you know what George Brown was suggesting (in his packet) for the MLK renaming?
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:31 Jana Jamieson
8:32
Bob Wheaton: 
Jana: There are three options: Renaming High Street after MLK, naming the new West Avenue bridge after him, or having the City Council select a city street that will have his name added on the street sign (without actually renaming the street).
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:32 Bob Wheaton
8:35
[Comment From RustyRusty: ] 
They already do that third option during Black history Month, so why not just leave it full time, and I believe that street is Francis street when they do this.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:35 Rusty
8:37
Bob Wheaton: 
Rusty, Yes, Martin Luther King Jr.'s name is added to Francis Street for one month ever year (Black History Month).
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:37 Bob Wheaton
8:41
Bob Wheaton: 
Council just voted 5-2 against extending City Attorney Julius Giglio's contract until 2014. He's still under contract for another year under current contract.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:41 Bob Wheaton
8:43
Bob Wheaton: 
Julius Giglio has been city attorney for a long time, so this is an interesting development. As I said, he will continue to be city attorney for now, but the council decided against extending his contract until 2014.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:43 Bob Wheaton
8:43
Bob Wheaton: 
Councilmen Carl Breeding and Daniel Greer were the only two to vote in favor of the contract extension.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:43 Bob Wheaton
8:46
Bob Wheaton: 
The meeting is now adjourned. Thanks to everyone for joining our live coverage.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:46 Bob Wheaton
 
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