Resolutions calling for the Arkansas State Police to investigate the Pine Bluff Street Department and the city’s Code Enforcement Department died for lack of a second during a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council Monday night.
Both were sponsored by Council member Steven Mays, who during a meeting of the Ordinances and Resolutions Committee prior to the regular council meeting refused to pull them from the agenda, despite the urging of other members of the council.
“You can vote them up or vote them down,” Mays said.
Asked by Council member Glen Brown Jr., about his request for an investigation of the street department, Mays said, “the streets are in terrible shape ”and went on to complain that while potholes get fixed, those fixes don’t last.
“You’re going to ask the street department to investigate the street department because of the potholes?” Council member Win Trafford asked.
Specifically, Mays said he wanted to know where the money to fix streets was going, prompting Council Member Joni Alexander to suggest that city Finance Director Steve Miller paperwork on expenditures.
He said he is constantly receiving complaints from residents about their vehicles being damaged when they hit potholes in the streets, going on to say that the city is receiving $100,000 a month from the casino and thinks more should be done.
Mays said the same areas are being patched over and over again to which Brown replied that weather conditions affect the work and frequent rain and cold weather affect the patches.
“We don’t need to be patching, we need to be fixing,” Mays said.
On the subject of the resolution asking regarding code enforcement, Pine Bluff Police did conduct an investigation into billing irregularities in that department which resulted in the director being fired. No charges have been filed.
“There was an investigation by our police but I think there needs to be a little more,” Mays said, prompting Alexander to call that statement an insult (to the department).
Council member and former Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield said he did not know what was behind Mays’ resolutions but called it a “second slap in the face of the police department.”
Whitfield said he had heard Mays say during two candidate debates to call him (Mays) and not the police.
“I think you want to be chief of police,” Whitfield said.
Mays and Whitfield are both candidates for Mayor in the March Democratic Primary, seeking to replace current Mayor Shirley Washington.
Trafford said while he had not received any calls supporting Mays he had received “plenty of calls wondering what’s going on in Pine Bluff.”
During the regular meeting, Mays called for the adopting of each resolution but Mayor Shirley Washington declared each had failed for lack of a second when no other member of the council spoke up.
That did not stop Mays however as he said “They (the other council members) know I’m right. Ask the citizens of my ward.”
Washington tried several times to get Mays to move on but as he continued to protest, she asked him if she “needed to ask an (police) officer to remove him?”
Before that, Washington asked one of the officers working security to remove a Mays for Mayor sign that a member of the audience had pulled up and displayed.
That sign was carried into the hallway where the man who displayed it picked it up after the meeting and carried it out of the building.