Bastrop City Attorney Ricky Smith recently resigned from his position as the city’s legal counsel after a dispute among city officials about last month’s failed vote to appoint Bastrop Police Capt. Carl Givens as chief of police.
In July, Bastrop Police Chief John Evans retired from the position after only 11 days of service. Givens was named provisional police chief after Evans’ retirement. During its Aug. 12 meeting, the Bastrop City Council rejected Mayor Betty Olive’s recommendation that Givens serve permanently as police chief.
The vote to appoint Givens failed on a 2-1 vote, according to Smith, at the time.
During the City Council’s Sept. 9 meeting, Olive and some members of the City Council appeared to dispute whether the vote failed.
When the City Council took up the routine matter of approving minutes of its past meeting, the meetings of the Aug. 12 meeting indicated the vote to appoint Givens succeeded—not a failed vote.
“Shouldn’t the minutes reflect what actually happened in the meeting?” said City Council member Angela Moore, who abstained from the appointment vote last month.
City Council member Larry Prater also abstained from last month’s vote.
Last month, Olive stated the vote to appoint Givens succeeded until Smith explained that the 2-1 vote failed because it did not represent the decision of a majority of the council (three members).
During last week’s meeting, Smith resigned and explained he had sought only to explain the law.
“I still have confidence in this administration and this board,” Smith said. “I just don’t think I can any longer be a part of it.”
At Olive’s invitation, Jamie Mayo, with M5 Consulting Group LLC, addressed the City Council after securing an opinion from the Louisiana Municipal Association, or LMA. Olive said she had tasked Mayo with researching whether Smith’s legal advice was correct. The city previously hired Mayo’s outfit as a consultant.
Mayo said he reached out to the LMA for clarification and learned from Karen White, LMA’s executive counsel, that the motion to appoint Givens succeeded according to Robert’s Rules of Order.
Moore asked that the minutes include a copy of a news report by The Ouachita Citizen pertaining to the City Council’s Aug. 12 meeting.
“It’s not what any external party thinks,” City Attorney Rodney Pierre said. “If the five of you left here at the conclusion of that meeting thinking the motion failed, that’s what the minutes should reflect.”
In response to Pierre’s advice, Moore asked that Smith’s statements about a majority of votes be included in the minutes.
The City Council did not take a vote on Moore’s motion. Instead, City Council member Howard Loche offered a motion to table the approval of the minutes until the state Attorney General’s office could issue a legal opinion about the situation. Loche voted against Givens’ appointment last month.
City Council member Robert Shaw, who voted in favor of Givens’ appointment last month, seconded Loche’s motion, which was successful.