City Council denies subdivision application, appointment of new city attorney

The City Council voted unanimously to deny the decision of the City Planning and Zoning Commission to approve an application by Braddox Johnson to subdivide 3 parcels of land on a 17 acre tract. Homeowners filed an appeal after the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-3 at its Aug. 18 meeting. Chairman Charles Whitehead was the split vote that approved the application.

The Council made this decision at Monday night’s meeting, Sept. 14, after hearing the concerns of several residents in the Katelyn Circle and Ledet Drive area. The overall consensus among residents and council members alike is that the City needs to address drainage issues in East Natchitoches before continuing to allow more development.

Another agenda item that garnered attention was a resolution to appoint Alex J. Washington as the City Attorney for the City of Natchitoches. Some Council members were concerned about Washington’s experience with municipal government and over a two year probation period his law firm is currently under. According to Washington, this relates to an accounting error made by a former employee. He reassured the Council that he has the necessary experience for the job with over 20 years of practicing law under his belt and let them know he is a Natchitoches native and Northwestern State University graduate. Washington also said he plans on opening an office in Natchitoches.

City Attorney Ron Corkern submitted a letter of resignation on Sept. 14. Council member Eddie Harrington said that, according to the City’s employee handbook, if the City is hiring from outside itself for the position it must advertise the job for a two week period and accept applications.

Corkern offered to stay on as City Attorney until his contract ends in June of 2021 and have Washington as an Assistant District Attorney during this time period so he could transition Washington into the City Attorney position. When Corkern was instead asked to stay on as the assistant city attorney to Washington, Corkern declined. He said that it had nothing to do with his ego in regards to his title. He felt department heads and employees would still reach out to him, which he felt would undermine Washington’s position as City Attorney. He also said that not having the ear of the mayor, as a city attorney should, would make this situation unworkable for him.

Council members Harrington, Dale Nielsen and Council member-at-large Betty Sawyer Smith voted against the resolution. A motion was then made to amend the agenda, which passed. A second motion was made to advertise for the City Attorney position and accept applications.

Other agenda items included:

PLANNING & ZONING – FINAL:

Declare buildings unsafe and recommend that same be demolished or put into repair to comply with building code. Buildings are located at 1217 Dean Street (has been demolished), 1124 Allen Street, and 130 Howell Street (pulled permit for demolition, but haven’t completed the process yet).

ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:

Award the bid for caustic soda for the water treatment plant

Amend the 2020-2021 Budget to reflect additional revenues and expenditures.

RESOLUTIONS:

Advertise for bids for liquid chlorine for the water treatment plant (Bid No. 0632)

Extend Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. for an additional two year term

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The next scheduled City Council meeting will be September 28, 2020.

https://www.facebook.com/NPJNatLa/videos/2016114715189460

City needs to address drainage issues in East Natchitoches

5 thoughts on “City Council denies subdivision application, appointment of new city attorney

  1. There are plenty of law firms in town from which to choose. Apparently keeping our tax dollars local only applies to others. So he is going to open an office here in town, big deal the money will still go to Caddo Parish. Bad move.

  2. I think we need more information on what happened, and why that judgment against him. A question and answer period by the City Council might be a good idea here, with possibly the public submitting questions in advance that they would like to ask. Just my idea of getting all the info needed to make an intelligent decision.

  3. And so it begins. I don’t have a clue who Alex J. Washington is but if you’re currently under a two-year probation period because of an accounting error, you blame on a former employee, I have to question your ability to manage people and more importantly accept responsibility for the actions of your firm. Understand this; I am absolutely no fan of Ron Corkern but at least he, and the firm in which he works, have years of municipal experience. With a new mayor and three new council members I would think maintaining some experience with municipal law would be important, not lining the pocket of someone unable manage his own firm.

    • While I am skeptical I will see how it plays out. I have been told he does have experience with parish government and the error was an honest mistake, that said in terms of this town and the events of the past one should always look at things with a judicious eye, even as we move forward…

  4. Seems excessive for an entire firm to be put on a 2 year probation for an accounting error. The city needs to do some more research and find out for sure.

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