Pelham mayor vows to veto contract with lobbying firm

The Pelham City Council voted 3-2 March 15 to extend a service agreement with the lobbying firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in the amount of $90,000 to help secure federal and state funds.

Council members Steve Powell and Karyl Rice voted against the resolution, while President Mike Dickens, member Bill Meadows and member Teresa Nichols voted for it.

However, Mayor Don Murphy, who originally brought the firm’s services to the council’s attention, has spoken out against extending the agreement and vowed he would veto the measure.

To veto the resolution, the mayor must inform City Clerk Tom Seale in writing within 10 days that he is vetoing the measure. Seale must then inform the council of the mayor’s intentions, and the matter will be brought up again at the next regularly scheduled meeting, which is April 5.

In order to override the veto, two-thirds of the council, or four members, must approve the resolution again.

Although Murphy said he is not blaming the firm for failing to secure any funds, he did say that nothing has been done in terms of the city receiving any stimulus funds since the city began its agreement with the firm in March 2009.

“We’ve had these folks under contract for a year and we’ve seen zilch, zero,” Murphy said. “If I pay someone to do a job, I want them to do the job.”

In July 2009, the council requested a meeting with the firm to see what had been done with the $45,034.63 that was spent on lobbying efforts since March 2009.

In November 2009, the council passed the 2010 budget with $30,000 going to the firm.

The current resolution would increase the 2010 budget by $60,000.

Meadows said he believes the reason the city hasn’t received any funds is because everyone has not been on the same page.

“We’re not working as a team, and we’ve got to work as a team,” Meadows said of the council and mayor.

Meadows claimed that mayor did not respond to repeated e-mail inquiries by the firm, which resulted in things not getting done.

“Where was the ball dropped?” Meadows said. “The city of Pelham did not respond.”

Murphy disagreed and said he would produce any e-mails that Meadows wanted to see.

“Ain’t no ball been dropped on our part,” Murphy said. “They didn’t do their job. That’s where the ball got dropped.”

Murphy also said that while Meadows has been adamant about the agreement with the firm, he has offered no answers to why funds have not been secured or solutions on how funds will be secured if the agreement is signed.

“You’ve talked in circles, but you’ve offered no answers to the problem,” Murphy said to Meadows. “I’ve not seen anything but a shuck and jive, and when I see a shuck and jive, I know it.”