Just as the last meeting of the Hempstead County Quorum Court never happened October 26, surprisingly, Tuesday's scheduled meeting of the Hope City Board met the same fate as four City Directors were no shows, and the likewise, the Hope City Board also failed to gain a quorum to conduct business.
Just as the last meeting of the Hempstead County Quorum Court never happened October 26, surprisingly, Tuesday’s scheduled meeting of the Hope City Board met the same fate as four City Directors were no shows, and the likewise, the Hope City Board also failed to gain a quorum to conduct business.
Local historian and veteran political observer Mark Keith called the nearly back-to-back misses in local government “unprecedented.”
“I’ve never seen something like this happen in 30 years, where you had both the major governments, the Quorum Court and City Board, fail to get quorums and cancelled meetings. It is rare for either of them, but to have them both back-to-back is really unheard of,” Keith said.
Active in local radio for decades, Keith has regularly covered both the Hempstead County Quorum and Hope City Board for years, and he said, “Over the years, I’ve always been impressed by diligence of the folks serving on these public bodies to attend these meetings and conduct business.”
“The idea that both of these bodies would miss meetings with a two weeks time, when it has been such a rare, rare occurrence over the many years is really unusual,” he said.
Tuesday night, Mayor Steve Montgomery along with Reginald Easter and Don Still were present, but Kiffinea Talley, Mark Ross, Trevor Coffee, and Don Hall were all no shows, and after consulting City Attorney Joe Short, the formal meeting itself was called 7:07 p.m.
As meeting time was approaching, City Manager Catherine Cook did announce that she had been contacted previously by both Talley and Coffee regarding their absences, but when neither Ross nor Hall appeared, Montgomery and Cook looked to Short for advice.
Like the Quorum Court two weeks before, the City Board could not conduct official business or have a vote without a quorum, or required minimum number of members present. Montgomery, in fact, could not even call a meeting to order at 7 p.m. because no official meeting was permitted.
And like the Quorum Court before, there apparently was no formal protocol for determining went to officially call the meeting off, or time requirement. It was learned that Ross was home ill through a text message, so he would not arrive, and Hall could not be contacted by phone.
Keith said it has been common practice locally over the years that someone would “get on a phone and try to find someone.”
“Back in the day, it was common to call around, and see if folks could be found, especially if there was some type of urgent business or vote needed,” he said.
In lieu of any official meeting, Short said that only informational announcements could be made informally, but no actions could be taken, so the three attending board members heard announcements from Cook, JR Wilson, and Steve Atchley.
Otherwise, prior to meeting, the only other matter of concern was one of a malfunction to Montgomery’s chair, which saw Cook and Montgomery gamely attempt to correct the height of the troublesome seat. The proper seat adjustment, like the meeting itself, proved to be lost cause, but at least, Montgomery was able to leave the rogue chair behind early.
Before departing, Montgomery apologized to the small gathering profusely, and he thanked everyone for showing up.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Hope City Board is Tuesday, November 21, and the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Hempstead Quorum Court will be a week early, Thursday, Nov. 16, in front of the Thanksgiving holiday.