Live Oak —
The Live Oak Charter Review Committee voted 3-2 Monday night in a special meeting to recommend keeping the chief of police position as an appointed position, overturning their 3-2 vote at a previous meeting to make it an elected position. Committee members Stephan Blue and Tommie Jefferson voted against. This was the third time in 15 days the police chief position has been visited.
The purpose of the committee was to review the current city charter and establish a recommendation to the Live Oak City Council on changes that need to be made, if any.
Monday began with several members confused over their final decision made at the last meeting to make the chief of police position an elected one. Committee member Jeanne d’Eauede called the meeting to clarify the board’s recommendation of the position.
“I thought we were putting it before the Live Oak City Council and letting them decide if they wanted an elected or appointed chief of police,” d’Eauede said. However, the minutes reflected they were recommending making it an elected official.”
On Dec. 17, the committee voted 3-1 to place the police chief position on a ballot and allow the voters to decide if the position should be elected or appointed. d’Eauede was not present for that meeting. The committee then met again on Dec. 23 to revisit the police chief position. Blue made a motion at that meeting to put the chief of police position on the ballot and let the voters decide if it should be elected or appointed. The motion passed 3-2.
In a letter to the city council stating the committee’s recommendation, it stated their desire was to see the position become an elected office. Confused, committee member Wendell Hill refused to sign the recommendation letter.
“It was my understanding the council would decide,” Hill said.
Hill, who left the last meeting perplexed over the recommendation, was asked by Jefferson to make his wishes known for the chief of police position. Hill had previously voted twice in favor of the position being elected, however, Hill once again stated he was confused.
“I want (Live Oak Police Chief) Buddy Williams to have his job and the city council to see that his office is being run properly,” Hill said. “Leave it like it is.”
After a long heated debate between d’Eauede and Jefferson, City Attorney Erny Sellers turned their focus to the duties and responsibilities of a police chief.
“You’ve chosen an elected police chief, but not the duties or responsibilities,” Sellers said. “He’s got a title, but no authority.”
Sellers said if the board had submitted the position to be elected, but did not establish the term, salary or duties of the position, the police chief would operate under the city council by default.
“You’ve got to set out his duties and responsibilities,” Sellers said.
Blue then made a recommendation with Sellers’ guidance to amend and adopt sections 24, 25, 29 which speak to election term, salary, and duties and responsibilities, which previously existed in the model city charter. The motion failed 2-3, with only Blue and Jefferson voting in favor.
d’Eauede then made a motion to amend the recommendation to leave the chief of police position as is, which passed 3-2, with Jefferson and Blue voting against.