By ARTHUR L. MACK
MOBILE — Once again, local activist Reggie Hill was escorted from the Mobile City Council meeting because of violation of a rule stating masks have to be worn while addressing council members due to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
Two weeks ago, Hill was ejected for failing to adhere to face mask-wearing policies while attempting to address the Mobile City Council. Last week, he attempted to address the council while not wearing a mask and was one again asked to leave by council President Levon Manzie.
On Tuesday, Hill — who was wearing a mask while sitting in the audience — took his mask off when he was ready to address the council. And once again, Manzie asked him to put on his mask to comply with the rule requiring the wearing of masks when addressing the council.
“No rule supersedes state law,” Hill said as he was led away by police officers.
While outside, Hill and Public Safety Director James Barber exchanged words.
“We’re simply enforcing the law,” Barber said as he explained to Hill why he was asked to wear his mask.
“City rule can’t supersede state law,” Hill said. “That’s a violation (to have me wear a mask while speaking). You’re going to wind up being sued by citizens. You’re enforcing the city rule and not obeying state law. That’s in violation of your own oath that you took.”
“It’s their meeting,” Barber said. “They get to control the rules.”
When Hill said his rights to address the city council were violated by the mask rule, Barber told him to take it up with council members.
“How can I do that?” Hill said. “You took us out of the meeting,”
After things died down, Manzie said, “The presiding judge of Mobile County Court issued an order saying no one is to come into the building without a mask. It’s not about persecution, it’s about protection.”
Meanwhile, an ordinance to establish procedures and policies for the vacation or closure of any street, alley or dedicated right of way was laid over for two weeks because it was discussed at public safety committee meeting later on Tuesday. It is scheduled to be brought up for a vote on Aug. 18.
Two CIP resolutions were laid over. One of them was a contract with James H. Adams & Son Construction, Inc., in the amount of $231,436 for Airport Boulevard East. The other was with Tindle Construction, LLC, in the amount of $214,500 for Richards D.A.R. House exterior repairs.
There were several resolutions passed. The main one was a contract with J. Hunt Enterprises in the amount of $188,625 for the Ladd-Peebles Stadium walking trail. Another major resolution was a contract with J. Payne Organization for $166, 000 for work to be done on interior restorations for the Parkway S.A.I.L. Center.
Councilman Vice-President C.J. Small, whose district in which the Parkway S.A.I.L. Center is located, said he was grateful for the passing of the resolution. “I just want to thank the mayor for moving it forward,” he said.
In other city council related matters:
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson gave representatives of the Coast Guard base in Mobile a resolution commemorating the 230th birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Council members discussed going back to having Zoom meetings in the light of the COVID-19 crisis. Small asked how the rest of the council felt about going back to virtual meetings. Council woman Bess Rich said planning meetings could still be done in person in order to comply with the state’s Sunshine Law, but also said it would be a good idea to go back to virtual city council meetings. So far, no action has been taken on the suggestion.