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Heated special meeting never makes quorum

Tempers flared and accusations flew at a special meeting of the Port Arthur City Council on Friday morning.

The meeting was called in hopes of securing the city’s logo on a new water tower. However, the meeting itself was adjourned because it never made quorum.

Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr., District 5, said he requested the meeting with three others in order to vote to force City Manager Brian McDougal to ask the contractors to paint the city’s logo on the new tower.

As it stands, the tower already has a U.S. Coast Guard logo and a Lamar State College-Port Arthur logo painted on it.

Lewis pointed out that the city council did not have to meet, and that McDougal could have simply asked the contractor to paint the city’s logo on the tank. However, Lewis alleges McDougal has stonewalled the process and refuses.

“The contractor did not have to get our permission,” said Lewis, in a phone interview. “They wanted the city manager to contact tem with a memo or a phone call to say it was it was alright.”

Because the city council couldn’t make quorum and vote to request McDougal act, he believes the water tower would be raised without the city’s logo.

“No, the logo probably wont go on there,” Lewis said.

The tank will be raised Monday.

Lewis alleged that McDougal called the other councilmembers and asked them to not show up for the meeting.

“He’s the problem,” Lewis said speaking of McDougal. “We don’t have to vote on this. We didn’t vote on the other logos.”

“If he hadn’t interfered we would’ve been done with this last Sunday,” McDougal said.

The meeting regarded the existing contract between the city and Landmark Structures I, LP of Fort Worth for the Terminal Road storage tank and pump station project where Carver Terrace Apartments once stood.

Calvin Prosen, senior project manager with the Port Arthur engineering firm of Arceneaux, Wilson & Cole, said the reason the city of Port Arthur logo was not already painted was the city was in the middle of a rebranding campaign. The city council voted last week to stay with the current city logo and the race began to get it painted on the tower.

Crews and equipment must get in place and it will take a day or two to size and paint the logo.

Lewis said McDougal was an autocratic manager who acts unilaterally and doesn’t include his staff in the decision-making process.

“You manage out of fear. Industry got rid of autocratic management a long time ago. You can’t manage the city out of fear,” Lewis said. “The same people (councilmembers) dictating to him are the ones who want to get rid of him.”

At the end of the meeting, McDougal said he could not comment on the remarks because they didn’t make quorum at the meeting.

“You totally ignored the council’s eight-to-one vote to keep the current logo. You didn’t get permission for the other logos,” Lewis said.

Mayor Pro Tem Raymond Scott Jr. asked City Secretary Sherri Bellard if the councilmembers tell her why they can’t attend a meeting. She answered no.

Lewis said the city manager told him the majority of the council didn’t want the city logo on the water tower though a majority voted to keep the current logo.

Lewis asked how would McDougal know that unless he spoke with the councilmembers before the meeting.

The contractor doesn’t need permission from the city to proceed, Lewis said, because he works for the Texas General Land Office. He was doing this as a courtesy.

He added that either a phone call or a letter from the city would had sufficed, but the city manager refused it.

“It’s up to the company now,” Lewis said.

David Ball: 409-721-2427