The drama surrounding the upcoming Mobile City Council leadership vote was ratcheted up Tuesday when a number of residents spoke in favor of selecting current council Vice President Fred Richardson as president of the council.
Four speakers weighed in on the Monday, Nov. 6, vote and asked councilors to consider Richardson for the presidency, replacing current President Gina Gregory.
Gregory told the speakers she felt it was “inappropriate” for them to campaign for Richardson at the council meeting. She said discussions have begun on the council leadership vote and they have remained cordial. Gregory said she hoped that would continue.
Gregory added that each councilor could have residents speak in favor of each and every one of them for the presidency, given the council’s popularity as a whole.
The Rev. Cleveland McFarland Jr. said he supports Richardson for the leadership post because he’s a progressive and productive member of the council.
“Mr. Richardson loves this city and the council,” McFarland said. “He speaks very passionately about it.”
After the speakers were finished, Richardson assured those in attendance that he was not “the source of divisive.” Instead, he blamed Lagniappe for first publishing the story about a possible leadership change.
“A local newspaper put it all out there,” he said. “They got the community all stirred up.”
Richardson elaborated on his point by comparing himself to a red flag being waved in front of a bull.
Also in that initial story referenced by Richardson, Lagniappe reported of a communication issue between councilors and Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office. During a pre-conference meeting, Gregory referenced the communication issue. Stimpson’s administrative assistant was also present and taking notes for the mayor, who was on a trip to Phoenix.
Gregory asked the councilors if any of them needed information from the mayor’s office. Richardson asked Finance Director Paul Wesch a question, before asking the administration to simply answer the questions the council asks going forward.
Gregory cautioned her colleagues to get their questions answered at the meetings, “instead of going to the media.”
Between meetings, Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber responded to concerns from downtown residents over the noise from loud bass coming from car stereos.
Jerri Keith, who has lived downtown for two and a half years, said she’s used to loud noise downtown, but she gets awakened often by loud bass coming from car stereos on Dauphin Street early on weekend mornings.
A neighbor of Keith’s also complained about the noise. He said he doesn’t believe the short-lived cruising ordinance was a good idea because it can lead to issues for people trying to park downtown, but he wants the city to do more to enforce the noise ordinance already on the books.
In the case of loud bass, Barber said officers are instructed that if they can hear it from 50 feet outside of a vehicle it’s too loud. The problem, Barber said, is many times violators will see police coming and turn down the stereos until they are out of sight.
Barber added that a recent focus on enforcement of the noise ordinance by placing officers in some unexpected places has netted 21 tickets in two weeks.