CLECO likely pick to provide power to city
Although the decision has not been made official, consultant Jim Poché, of Poché, Prouet and Associates, told the St. Martinville city council Monday that it appears CLECO has tendered the most advantageous bid for providing wholesale electricity to the city.
The official vote was postponed until Thursday to allow Mayor Melinda Mitchell, council members and City Attorney Allan Durand to examine the bids, which were delivered and opened during a meeting at Poché’s Lafayette office only four hours before the Monday council meeting.
Poché said a $250,000 annual cash incentive will be paid by the firm to the city for system improvements. But even without that, the four-year fixed-rate offer from CLECO would save the city an estimated $686,000 over the term of the contract.
There were originally five bidders for the contract until SLEMCO withdrew its offer.
Change of tone
Recent meetings of the council have seen an unmistakably contentious atmosphere, with a good bit of heckling and recrimination. A very noticeable shift seemed to occur on Monday.
Former councilman Jimmy Charles, on the agenda to speak about improvements needed at Adam Carlson Park, took the opportunity to address the fact that the city has seemed stuck in an uncooperative rut.
“We have so much energy for fighting each other,” he said, “Can’t we show just a little of that energy working together?” He suggested all present stand, hold hands and pray together.
Dist. 3 Councilman Dennis Paul Williams, then Mike Fuselier of District 1, led the group in prayers for cooperation. The atmosphere changed dramatically and the rest of the meeting proceeded in a completely different manner.
Not so pleasant, however, was a period at the end of the meeting, after the mayor, council and Police Chief Ricky Martin met in an executive (secret) session to discuss a police personnel matter. When they returned to open session, a motion was offered to dismiss an officer who is still in the one-year probationary period.
The chief said many complaints had been lodged about the officer, Alonza Jordan, mostly based on Jordan’s temperament and way of dealing with people. Of the many complaints received, Martin said, he had presented 12 in the closed session, which had been verified with complainants who were willing to be interviewed. He recommend termination.
Jordan took exception to the chief’s recommendation. He spoke for nearly an hour with great animation and anger about his treatment, saying it was just about his way of speaking.
Jordan impugned Chief Martin’s honesty, referring to his evidence as “fruit of a poisoned tree,” and said he is being persecuted for political reasons. He said he has hired an attorney and would file suit if he is terminated.
Jordan is in the final month of his probationary period, in which, Durand said, he could be terminated without the civil service protections that would be in effect after that.
The council tabled Jordan’s termination and placed him on unpaid administrative leave until the council’s Sept. 17 meeting.