Council fails to excuse Estes absence during visit to Asia
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Mar 12, 2013 | 1264 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland City Councilman Bill Estes, left, People for Care and Learning Chairman Bill George and Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow pose for a picture in front of government buildings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Estes is fulfilling two functions in Cambodia.
Cleveland City Councilman Bill Estes, left, People for Care and Learning Chairman Bill George and Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow pose for a picture in front of government buildings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Estes is fulfilling two functions in Cambodia.
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A motion to excuse the absence of one its members failed without a second Monday afternoon during the regular meeting of the Cleveland City Council.

Councilman Bill Estes, who represents the 2nd District, is in Cambodia on business for Lee University. He is also representing the city of Cleveland on behalf of Mayor Tom Rowland. The trip is in response to a visit to Cleveland by the governor of Phnom Penh and a delegation of leaders from Cambodia in August 2012.

People for Care and Learning took a group of Cleveland governmental, civic and business leaders to Phnom Penh to confirm a sister city arrangement between Cleveland and the Southeast Asian capital.

A motion to excuse Estes’ absence was included in the consent agenda. Approval of consent agendas are generally quick and unanimous. Council members sometimes request an item be moved from the consent agenda to new business where it can be discussed.

At-Large Councilman George Poe requested the motion excusing Estes be moved under new business. Vice Mayor Avery Johnson made the motion, which died without a second.

Poe said during an ensuing discussion that he made the request because the motion was unnecessary. According to the city charter, a Council member must resign after three consecutive unexcused absences.

“So this one does count (as an unexcused absence)?” Johnson asked. “I don’t see how this meeting can count as a missed meeting when he’s over there representing the city.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say,” Poe said. “It shouldn’t be on here.”

In the past, the Council has excused absences after three misses and one at a time. In Estes’ case, the vote is meaningless unless he misses two more meetings for some unforeseen reason.

Johnson agreed the action on Monday did not make any difference. “But we do it for one and not the other. If we are going to excuse individuals for missing one meeting, and I know we have, then we need to excuse him as well. That’s what I don’t understand.”

“You excused me when I went fishing,” At-Large Councilman Richard Banks said.

The Council unanimously approved all other consent agenda items that included:

- Final Passage of Ordinance 2013-09 to amend the Municipal Code, Title 9, Chapter 7, Sections 9-701 through 9-734 relating to taxi cabs;

- Resolution 2013-17, a 2012 tax refund to Matt Houston in the amount of $341;

- Resolution 2013-18, a 2012 tax refund to Habitat for Humanity in the amount of $144;

- A motion authorizing Mayor Tom Rowland to send a letter of support for a YouthBuild Grant.

Under new business, the Council approved the following items:

- Resolution 2013-19 authorizing and providing for the financing of the construction of a wastewater facilities project including authorizing the execution of applications, agreements and other necessary documents for Cleveland Utilities to borrow $1.826 million;

- Resolution 2013-20 authorizing and providing for the financing of the construction of a wastewater facilities project including authorizing the execution of applications, agreements and other necessary documents for Cleveland Utilities to borrow $8.174 million;

- Ordinance 2013-11 to abandon a section of 4th Street N.E. located between Church Street N.E. and North Ocoee Street at the request of Lee University.