Attendance is key
West Memphis city officials get graded on presence at council meetings
School is starting back, and anyone will tell you that one of the keys to success in the classroom is simply showing up for school.
It would stand to reason that one of the keys to success in city government is for city officials to make their meetings.
The storm over West Memphis City Council attendance quelled after aldermen voted for a litany of city employee raises on Aug. 3. Council voted to make good on a promise to have the pay increase by mid-year, making the raises retroactive active to July 1.
The vote was delayed, however, by poor city council attendance for the final July meeting, an issue making it virtually impossible to authorize the competitive wage increases. At the meeting, half the city council no-showed, drawing the ire of many city workers and citizens.
The West Memphis city council has two regular monthly meetings, in addition to a number of commission and committee meetings throughout the year. Official attendance records are kept by the city clerk’s office. Those records reveal an average attendance record of 84 percent year-to-date for city council members at the board’s regularly scheduled meetings.
Ward 3 councilmen turned in perfect attendance so far. Neither Wayne Croom or Charles Wheeless has missed a meeting. Ward 3 councilman James Holt held down perfect attendance too. His counter part in Ward one, Tracy Catt, has missed only one meeting in 2019.
Mayor Marco McClendon’s replacement on the council, David Murray, is off to a shaky start, missing one of his first four meetings since being elected in June, including the controversial final meeting in July that led to the stalled raise proposal. Others absent for that meeting were Helen Harris, Melanie Hutchinson, Willis Mondy and Lorraine Robinson.
Robinson, who represents Ward 4 as councilwoman, shows a roll call record of three absentees.
Ward 2 representative Hutchinson has missed the most meetings this year with four recorded absences. The senior Ward 2 councilman James Pulliaum was out just once this year.
Ward 5 tied Ward 2 for most absences year-to-date. Harris has missed three meetings and Mondy was out twice, for a combined total of five absences across 17 meetings.
Three other city officials answer roll call, too. The administration’s attendance record showed a perfect attendance report card for Mayor McClendon, City Treasurer Frank Martin and City Attorney Mike Stephenson. The trio have appeared at every city council meeting this year. School starts back tomorrow. The next West Memphis City Council meeting is Thursday. In a move to foster more citizen participation, the city has elected to move the second meeting of each month (including this Thursday’s meeting) to 5 p.m. The meetings set for the first Thursday each month will remain at 1:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public. The West Memphis City Council meets at West Memphis City Hall, 205 S. Redding St.