City council braces for elections
By Jan White
CROCKETT – “Seems that we are going to have a peculiar race on our hands,” is what councilman Gene Caldwell said at the opening of the Crockett City Council meeting held on Monday, March 6.
During the ‘Comments from Audience or Council’ portion of the session, Caldwell addressed the group present.
“As all of you know, I’m changing precincts because I moved, and we’ve got other folks running in Precinct One now. I wanted to just address a couple of things.”
He then proceeded to read from the code of fair campaign practices “so that everybody will be clear.”
The code lays out basic principles of what it calls ‘decency, honesty, and fair play that every candidate and political committee in this state has a moral obligation to observe and uphold.”
The code lists seven bullet points of fair conduct, such as limiting attacks on opponents to legitimate challenges, not defaming their character, not using prejudice based on race, sex, religion or national origin, not throwing out malicious or unfounded accusations, and not condoning unethical practices that undermine the system of free elections.
After Caldwell’s comments, Mayor Ianthia Fisher moved on to address the regular agenda items.
During his presentation of the police department report, Chief Clayton Smith indicated that the number of ‘scam’ calls in the community had increased. “We’ve taken several reports from the middle of last week up until today,” Smith stated. “These guys and girls are getting very creative with ways to scam people. A lot of the calls come from overseas, or they use a ‘spoofing’ app that may look like it’s my number calling or your number calling. Those numbers are very difficult to trace.” Smith warned residents to be alert and do their best to verify whether the call is legitimate.
Smith also presented the numbers from the department’s Annual Racial Profiling Report. As part of the profiling requirement, Smith gave a breakdown of individuals who were stopped for traffic violations:
• 755 were white males; 516 were white females
• 347 were African American males; 212 were African American females
• 21 were Asian/Pacific Islander males; ten were females
• 229 were Hispanic males; 92 were females
• Two were Native American males; one was a female
• There were no Middle Easterners stopped for violations
Crockett Fire Chief Jason Frizell reported that the department had 45 calls in January with no structure fires inside the city limits. In February, there were forty-five calls with one structure fire inside the city. Frizell said there were two civilian casualties – one from a vehicle accident and one from a structure fire.
Approval was given to appoint the mayor and city manager to represent the city on a community block grant which would fund sewer repairs near the railroad track and the town branch creek.
The council also awarded the bid for the public swimming pool concrete decking, fencing, and lighting to Shoemake. City Manager John Angersein reported that the engineers are still on schedule for a summer opening of the public pool.
Angersten also proposed that because of the time it took to transition old data to the new public utilities software, the council should waive late fees for the month of March. Typically customers have ten days to pay their bills, but the invoices were delayed. Angerstein said the new software would significantly improve online billing and payment options.
Due to the continued suspension of CEIDC activities, invoices for current bills were provided to council members. Although Councilman Caldwell questioned paying some accounts, such as Sirius XM, Fisher suggested they continue to approve items for now. “We don’t have a timeline as to when it’s going to start back up. I think it’s expedient that you keep everything functional.” Council voted to approve the payment of the bills received.
Another item of business regarding CEIDC was the lease agreement between Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and CEIDC for office space in the Tech Center at 1505 South Fourth Street. TWC accepted the CEIDC’s proposal last September but had not finalized the contract.
Fisher clarified that Texas Workforce Solutions (TWS) and the Texas Workforce Commission, while complementary, are not the same organization. City Manager John Angerstein stated that the proposal with TWC is unlike the contract with TWS. The TWC proposal is based on the percentage of square feet they would occupy within the building, bringing in around $2,400 a month. The city currently pays around $7,100 a month for the building, which includes the note payment, maintenance, and utilities. Angerstein reminded council members that the contract had not been completed and signed, so if they wanted to build some clauses to protect their interests, this could be done during negotiations.
While Councilman Mike Marsh and Caldwell voiced concerns over the contract’s length and the building’s availability if a better offer came in, others took a different approach. Councilman Darrell Jones said, “This is something that has been in negotiations for a long time. To me, something is better than nothing. If not, the city will still be paying out.”
After further discussion, Angerstein asked the council if they wanted him to proceed with negotiations, stating that the city would still have to approve the contract. Councilman Ernest Jackson suggested they finish negotiations with TWC and look at the proposal when it comes back to them.
“Right now, the income we’re getting for upkeep and maintenance is not sufficient. $2,400 or more would be very impactful to help meet obligations and upkeep. So I’m for moving on with it and finishing up negotiations of that contract,” he said.
Jackson then made a motion to move forward, with a second by Jones. When called for a vote, Jackson and Jones voted to continue negotiations, while Caldwell and Marsh voted against it. Due to the absence of Councilwoman Marquita Beasley, Fisher broke the tie by voting to move forward with the negotiations.
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