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‘Fluff’ off the agenda

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Half-time schedule comes in at city hall

By Lora-Marie Bernard

A CITY council is attempting to cut out “fluff” from its discussions by cutting in half the number of times it meets each month.
For the first time in many decades, La Marque’s council has changed its meeting schedule – and mayor Bobby Hocking is taking responsibility for the decision.
The town that is home to BayouFest will reduce the number of its regular city council meetings from two per month to one, to be held on the second Monday, in 2016.
But Hocking said that, if the idea, doesn’t work, he will ask the council to reverse its decision.
“This is all on me,” he said. “This was my idea. I am presenting it.”
The ordinance to change the schedule was not without its critics before being adopted unanimously by the council this month.

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David Pennington, an avid La Marque volunteer who organized the recent Wreaths Across America event, said he had scratched his head trying to determine a reason for the change. He said the motion was quick on the draw and he questioned its justification.
“I’ve been attending council meetings for a number of years and most of you can verify that I haven’t missed many in the past eight years,” he said.
“And I have never seen a meeting cancelled because of a lack of city business.”
During the ordinance discussion, mayor pro-tem Keith Bell said he thought one meeting per month would be more efficient and that he expects the city council to become laser-focused on business.
“I’ve served on the council longer than anybody,” he said. “I think the man hours will flesh out and the resources will flesh out and we will save in using our manpower and we’ll get a bang for our buck. I’m more than willing to backtrack and add a special meeting.”
Hocking said that, after five years as mayor, he had decided that the second meeting of the month was becoming “fluff”.
If a specific need to conduct business arises, such as a time-sensitive matter, the council can call a second meeting on the fourth Monday of the month, he said.
“There is nothing subversive going on,” he said. “Staff had no idea I was going to do this.”
If the one-meeting system fails, he said he’d submit an ordinance so the council can begin meeting twice a month again.
The meetings, at city hall, 1109B Bayou Road, will take place on the second Monday of each month from 6:00pm.

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