Historic City News observed the regular meeting of the city commission tonight convened at 5:00 p.m., however, two of the five member board were absent — former Vice Mayor Errol Jones acted as chair.
As expected, no action was taken, or public hearing held, in the matter of Ordinance 2011-01; the controversial horse-drawn carriage ordinance.
With comments from both assistant city attorney Carlos Mendoza as well as city attorney Ron Brown, who explained that any new ordinance will require 3/5 vote to enact, Nancy Sikes-Kline made a motion, seconded by Bill Leary, to delay the second public hearing and final action on the horse-drawn carriage ordinance for two more weeks.
Leary proposed having public hearing tonight, noting that the meeting room was full. Attorney Brown informed the commissioners that although it would be legal to take public hearing now and delay the vote until the mayor and vice-mayor have returned, in the past, the commission would delay the entire process for the future meeting — allowing the absent members the benefit of hearing public testimony first hand.
Acting chairman Jones voted no; saying that he believed that the quorum present should vote “one way or the other”. Anything short of a 3/0 vote tonight, would mean that the proposed ordinance would have failed.
On a 2-1 vote, the ordinance was tabled, and the floor was opened to regular public comment; had anyone in attendance wanted to address the issue. From what acting chairman Jones described as “quite a stack of cards”, dwindled down to only three public speakers; only one of which had made the trip specifically for the proposed carriage ordinance.
Don Anthony, spokesman for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida spoke in favor of the latest amended version of the proposed ordinance; however, he expressed concern as to why carriage drivers are not required to have motor vehicle drivers license as a minimum criteria.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer