Kreller accuses mayor of ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ to pressure council; says city already has emergency ‘plan’
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Original Flash: Thursday, May 27, 2021, at 7:58 PM
MANDEVILLE — The City Council approved Mayor Clay Madden’s pick for the city’s disaster recovery contractor tonight (May 27, 2021), despite a contentious back-and-forth between the mayor and District II Councilman Skelly Kreller.
A vote had been deferred from the May 13th meeting because a majority on the council wanted more time to review the contract. This was Kreller’s first meeting back since early April when he took a leave of absence to recover from a medical procedure.
Resolution No. 21-18, which authorizes the mayor to contract Richard C. Lambert Consultants LLC to manage the city’s disaster recovery efforts, was adopted on a 3-1 vote, with Kreller standing alone in opposition. District I Councilwoman Rebecca Bush was absent.
Kicking off the hour-and-fifteen-minute debate that preceded the vote, Kreller said the City of Mandeville already has an emergency plan that was created in the year 2000. “Why do we need a consultant… Why do we need to reinvent this whole thing… Why suddenly now,” he asked at different times during the discussion.
Madden rebutted, “I disagree with that. I think we need an updated and upgraded plan… We owe it to our constituents.”
Kreller directly accused the mayor of falsely alarming people via social media by saying they are in danger due to a lack of a cohesive and up-to-date emergency plan.
“I think when you use that rhetoric, it’s inflammatory… You were trying to stir up … and influence this council,” Kreller said.
The mayor reiterated his reasons for asking for the contract, which he had detailed at the previous meeting. He described five “partial” plans and how most of those are in draft form and many of the people named as having responsibilities are no longer with the city.
“We need subject matter experts,” the mayor added, emphasizing why Lambert Consultants had been selected over two other firms.
Ben Plaia, representing Lambert Consultants at the meeting, said the current plan that Kreller was referring to was basically full of holes and incomplete.