• April 2, 2020

Hamilton resigns council - Odessa American: City Of Odessa

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Hamilton resigns council

Other members to decide who to appoint

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Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 5:56 pm

Just as Tuesday’s city council meeting was ending, often embattled District 1 Council Member Malcolm Hamilton resigned saying his priority was his family.

Hamilton announced his resignation after taking issue with several items dealing with preparation for the coronavirus situation.

Hamilton asked if there would be any facilities willing to take people in if the coronavirus hits Odessa and overwhelms hospitals.

“I’m concerned about us and our preparation,” he said.

He asked if hotels like the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center would accommodate sick patients if hospitals were to be overwhelmed.

“A lot of these hotels,” he said, have Odessa citizens “money in their pocket and so I think it behooves them to show the people how much they’re appreciative of them by, if need be, stepping in should it get to that point.”

Mayor David Turner said that community officials have activated the Emergency Operation Center, which allows more federal and state money and equipment to come in.

“Unfortunately right now, they’re allocating tests and things like that for communities that have it,” Turner said.

Odessa City Manager Michael Marrero said that one hotel owner did reach out to the city to offer the use of one of their facilities, if needed, to help isolate people.

Hamilton said he was infuriated “with this fact of we are lacking in a lot of areas where we should have already been caught up. However, the most affected by this will be the elderly,” he said. “Of course, kids as well. Well, I know District 1 has a lot of those elderly people and a lot of those people are gonna need help. However, we seem to wanna pick and choose where we wanna allocate funds.”

Turner said, “No, we’re not picking and choosing.”

District 2 Council Member Dewey Bryant said that’s not what they are doing at all.

“You could believe whatever you think,” Bryant said.

Hamilton said Bryant could think what he wanted, as well.

Turner moved onto the consent agenda and District 4 Council Member Tom Sprawls asked to pull the sexually oriented business ordinance from the consent agenda. The city council voted to remove the utilities policy that would have prevented sexually oriented business employees from renewing or applying for their SOB license if they were late on their Odessa utility bills during the time of application.

At-Large Council Member Peggy Dean, who was outspoken against the utilities policy, thanked the council for removing it before it was moved to a motion.

The council unanimously approved the SOB ordinance, but after removing the utilities policy.

They approved the other facets of the ordinance, however, which will still extend the distance a SOB can be from a school or church from 600 feet to 1,500 feet and will require those SOBs to have human trafficking signs in Spanish. They are already required in English.

Odessa Senior Assistant City Attorney Dan Jones said that billing and collections is going to try to put in a computer system at some point that will be able to read if a person has a water account and a permit.

“Right now they have two programs,” he said. “And neither one of them talk.”

Jones said that this wouldn’t be just for sexually oriented businesses.

“Let’s say if a builder comes in and they haven’t paid their water bill, well, we won’t give them a permit to build. Same thing with entertainer and non-entertainer,” he said.

Jones projected that it would be in around a year or two, but they would need to wait until they received the technology that could show utility holders who also were applying or reapplying for any permit.

The city council also extended the Mayor’s Declaration of Local Disaster from March 18, which Gov. Greg Abbott’s declaration holds precedent over. The mayor’s declaration will be in place until city council terminates it, even if that time comes after Abbott’s ends at midnight on April 3.

Before Turner entertained a motion to adjourn, Hamilton said, “I’d like to announce something. I’d like to formally announce my resignation as of today. It’s been a pleasure serving with every one of you guys, but I feel like it is time to take care of my priorities which is my family and my children.”

In a phone interview, District 5 Council Member Mari Willis said that she wished Hamilton well on his endeavors and thanked him for his service to the citizens of Odessa. As far as what will happen to the seat, she said that they do not yet know what will happen.

“The people of District 1 will have to be represented,” she said. “I’m sure that they will get someone from that district to represent them for now until, you know, the election in November. I’m not sure what process that will take, but I’m sure that it would not go unrepresented.”

Dean said that there will not be a special election because there was less than a year left in Hamilton’s term and that city council will consider accepting Hamilton’s resignation at the next city council meeting on April 7.

City Secretary Norma Aguilar-Grimaldo said that city council will vote to appoint someone new to the District 1 seat and, “that city council will have to decide how they want to go about the process.” That person would have to meet the regular requirements to serve on the city council including living in the district within the past 6 months. Grimaldo said that if the council decided not to appoint someone, then the seat would remain vacant until after the November elections.

Dean said that Hamilton was a pleasure to work with and that, “None of us knew that was coming,” and that she didn’t think anyone had any time to consider an appointee. “We were all pretty surprised by it,” she said. Council member Hamilton said he had no comment after Tuesday night’s meeting.

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