Why were half the planning commissioners absent for the coal terminal vote?

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) –  The Mobile Planning Commission approved what some might consider it’s most important issue this year, but only half the commissioners showed up for the vote.

The commission voted 4 to 2 Thursday, March 20 to approve an application for the Blue Creek Coal Terminal project. Six other commissioners did not attend.  The commission chairman, who only votes to break a tie, was needed Thursday to make a quorum.

Commission Vice Chairman Bill DeMouy  works for the city.  We asked him why he wasn’t there.

“I was attending a Gulf Quest project status meeting.  We’re trying to get the Gulf Quest maritime museum closed out,” DeMouy said.

But was that meeting more important than the coal terminal application which had been delayed several times?

“If I thought my presence was required for a quorum maybe I could have excused myself from the other meeting,” he explained.

The commission did have a quorum, barely.  In fact, the chairman who normally votes only to break a tie had to vote yesterday.

Of the six members who were not present, two recused themselves due a conflict of interest.  Commissioner James Watkins works for the law firm that represents Walter Energy.

Commissioner Tracie Roberson, who is also a Mobile County School commissioner recused herself from  voting on the application in November.

Three other commissioners did not attend.  They are;  Victoria Rivizzigno, Scott Webster, and Jarrett Wingfield. None of them responded to our request to find out why.

The Planning Commissioners are appointed by the mayor and city council, but they are not paid.  There is also no guarantee the vote would have turned out differently if the other members had been present.


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