Carl Parker out as city of Port Arthur legal counsel

Published 1:07 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The relationship between the city of Port Arthur and a former Texas legislator and longtime attorney ended on Tuesday.

The Port Arthur City Council voted 5-4 to end an agreement with the Parker Law Firm at their regular meeting on Tuesday morning. Those voting not to keep the firm were councilmembers Raymond Scott, Cal Jones, Thomas Kinlaw III, Harold Doucet and Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr. Those voting to keep Parker were Mayor Derrick Freeman and councilmembers Osman Swati, Charlotte Moses and Kaprina Frank.

Parker had been on contract to lobby for the city at the state capitol.

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Parker had been paid $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year.

The discussion to overturn the resolution started Tuesday morning when Doucet said the council should review outside yearly legal contracts and possibly eliminate them and to look to City Attorney Val Tizeno’s office possibly taking up some of the duties to save money.

Another contract considered for elimination but kept was a contract for services for the city and city prosecutor Jesse Branick. He is paid the rate of $3,800 per month with an additional $275 per month to be paid for health coverage.

Tizeno said it’s more affordable to hire Branick than a city employee and pay their benefits. She added that Branick has done an excellent job in moving the caseload.

Swati said both contracts benefit the city.

“We need lobbyists for us,” he said. “We need a person (Parker) on board to look out for our interests in Austin.”

Doucet replied the city could use representatives from the Texas Municipal League for legislative purposes.

“I haven’t heard one resolution yet from the attorney (Carl Parker) to lobby for us,” Doucet said. “Our best voice in the Legislature is (State Rep.) Joe Deshotel.

“He can lobby, he’s a senior representative and he chairs several committees. TML updates us. If he can’t pull it off then no attorney can.”

Tizeno was asked how many arbitrations Parker was working on. She said at least three that she knows of.

Freeman said he was concerned about agreements the city has with industries and TML not knowing what to do with them.

“If (Gov.) Greg Abbott takes away our power to annex refineries (in the special legislative session), our budget could be cut in half in one day. We would have to let half our employees go in one day,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t seem like the right time now. Maybe after the legislative session. I think it’s a little premature.”

Doucet said Deshotel understands these important relationships the city has.

In other city business, the City Council listened to a presentation by Bobby Long and William Cranston about an Emergency Medical Services provider The Choice.

Long said the company is based in Houston.

He called Acadian Ambulance, the city’s EMS provider, as an “illustrious company” and The Choice isn’t requesting to replace Acadian. However, he said they could both operate under a competitive enterprise system and the constituency in Port Arthur will benefit.

“Not to poke at them, but we’ve heard over and over what the people want is community involvement,” Long said. “We spoke to Dr. (Marsha) Thigpen of Gulf Coast Health Care Center who asked ‘Who do you talk to? Who do you reach out to?’ This is a start of the process of collective choice.

He added that the company focuses on integrity and transparency in addition to community involvement.

The company also has a unit available Long described as a “hospital ER on wheels.”