MINDEN, La. A metal detector at the entrance and uniformed officers lining the walls greeted the public at Monday night’s Minden City Council meeting.
The additions are not commonplace but not unexpected with tensions that have been escalating among the bickering and divided council members.
Before the agenda could begin, the sparks started to fly, tempers flared, proper parliamentary procedures and general codes of ethics, at times, went ignored.
Ahead of the agenda, which follows proper public meeting protocol, Councilman Herbert Taylor, III, requested that an item be added to the meeting’s agenda to address removing a newly-erected sign at the gates of a playing field at the city’s recreation complex. But before the vote on whether to add the matter to the agenda could be taken, the item was discussed, which circumvented proper protocol. This is not the first time protocol has not been acknowledged by the mayor or the council.
The sign bears the name of former and longtime police chief, the late T.C. Bloxom. His widow, councilwoman Pam Bloxom donated $40,000 to the newly-found booster club for field fencing at the recreation complex months ago. At that time, Bloxom says she requested that the field be named in honor of her late husband. However, according to three other city officials, the idea was not brought to the council’s attention and the field was named without their knowledge or consent.
Mayor Terry Gardner acknowledged that it was not brought before the council. After lengthy heavy discussions and short-lived argument between at least one councilman and an onlooker, the motion to add the matter to the agenda was not unanimous. As a result the motion failed.
The meeting went downhill from there. Motions failed or were approved on 3-2 votes.
But what evoked the most emotion was when the council voted 3-2 — with the African American members (Taylor, Tereka Walker and Vincen Bradford) in the majority — not to seek a grant for airport improvements.
The mayor said they were giving up free money. Business owner Kerry Easley asked the three who voted to explain why.
None did immediately but finally admitted it was because the mayor refused to put the employee handbook on the agenda. That was the reason the three walked out of last month’s meeting before it started.
Then Lisa McKinney went before them and said she had been home sick but after seeing the meeting live stream she felt compelled to tell them how their actions are an embarrassment to the city.
“Y’all look like a bunch of idiots," she said, and told them to get their act together. “It’s got to stop y’all.” The audience applauded.
Then another man also spoke about his displeasure with their actions and said even though he loves Minden he was ready to leave because of what’s going with the city government.
Even the city attorney, Charles Minnifield, was ruled out of order when he got into a debate with an audience member.