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|Johnson 'evaluating' replacing Singer|
Winnsboro Mayor Jackie Johnson says he is still evaluating whether to recommend that the city council keep their long-time attorney, Tab Singer. The council balked at removing Singer during their July 19 regular meetinig.
Johnson recommended that the council replace Singer and fire chief Truman Welch and hire Carol Lexing, an attorney from Monroe, to be the city's legal counsel and Sykes Hamilton, a firefighter from Alaska, to be fire chief, at the meeting. Singer and Truman kept their jobs, however, when no councilman offered a motion to approve Johnson's recommendations.
Johnson later said he regretted making the recommendations and nominated Truman to be fire chief at the council's Aug. 16 regular meeting. An item to appoint a city attorney was also on the meeting agenda, but Johnson never made a recommendation.
"I have spoken with Tab and he understands my position. I am being handicapped. I have made a lot of campaign promises and I am being hindered in my plans to move the city forward into the 21st Century," Johnson said last week.
Johnson, who took office July 1, promised during the mayoral campaign that he would make sure that those who worked for the city during the late Mayor Jack Hammons' administration would not have to worry about being replaced. After being elected, Johnson said it was more important to "move the city forward" than to keep his promise.
After the city failed to move on his recommendations, Johnson told a Franklin Sun reporter that he would now keep to his campaign promise that city workers' jobs would be secure in his administration.
Johnson has been vague on how his administration is being hampered by Singer, who would cost the city tens of thousands of dollars less per year to retain as legal counsel than the woman he initially recommended to replace him.
Lexing asked for a monthly retainer of $3,500 to $4,500 plus $150 per hour to work as city attorney, according to council members.
Singer, who has been Winnsboro's legal counsel for 33 years, doesn't receive a retainer, but the city pays for his heath insurance at a cost of about $920 per-month. Singer charges the city $200 per-hour to work on legal matters, according to officials.
Singer said on Monday that he didn't want to involve himself with politics that might be associated with the move to replace him and he believes the city should have a lawyer with which the mayor is comfortable.
Even though Johnson has not yet recommended Singer as city attorney, he remains in the position.
Councilman Craig Gill said that he isn't sure how the matter will eventually play out.
"I don't know if there is a problem, but it is an issue that hasn't been resolved at the moment," Gill said.
In other city business, the Winnsboro City Council passed a resolution for an application for a $50,000 grant through the Louisiana Office of Community Development (LGAP) during a special meeting on Monday that would be used to purchase two police cars.
Timothy Washington, a Winnsboro fireman, is the first recipient of the Mayor Jackie Johnson's Award of Excellence, a new award created by Johnson to recognize dedicated city employees. Washington was nominated for productivity and safety in his job.
Employees can be nominated for the award by supervisors, employees or the general public.