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A special Paris City Council meeting scheduled for Thursday has been amended to allow PEDC Executive Director Steve Gilbert to rebut last week’s attack by Mayor AJ Hashmi on PEDC policies and procedures.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for the City Council Chambers at 107 E. Kaufman St., beginning at 5:30 p.m.
As originally posted, the meeting was to give Paris City Council members a second opportunity this week to discuss the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, followed by a call for a public hearing next week on any changes.
On Friday, City Clerk Janice Ellis sent out an amended agenda adding presentations by both Hashmi and Gilbert on PEDC procedures.
It will be the council’s second special session of the week. At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the council will hear from the last three of 12 construction, engineering or consulting companies to make a presentation on their desire to be a part of the city’s $35 million infrastructure project. The first six were local.
Also, the council will have an opportunity to discuss additions to the budget.
During last week’s regular council session, Hashmi took 30 minutes to go through PEDC credit card transactions that former Paris City Councilman Bill Strathern obtained through two recent Open Records requests.
“Some of these are rather exorbitant,” Hashmi said, as he went month-by-month through PEDC credit card receipts involving airplane trips, hotels, meals, drinks, gifts and other expenditures involving Gilbert and PEDC board members, economic prospects, local civic leaders and economic prospects.
Mostly, the mayor was critical of the lack of documentation to make clear whom the money was spent on and why – not only during gatherings out of town but in Paris.
Neither Gilbert nor members of the audience were given an opportunity last week to comment. Hashmi said it was his presentation, and if anyone wished to speak, the mayor would put them on a future agenda.
Strathern also requested a spot on a future agenda to make his own observations about PEDC shortcomings.
Gilbert has his chance on Thursday, but there is again no provision on the agenda for members of the audience to speak.
At last week’s meeting, Hashmi had boxes containing what he said were 1,800 pages of receipts he found lacking.
Although it was Strathern — Hashmi’s campaign manager for his council race in 2011 — who initially requested the documents, the mayor said he made his own request of the city, mirroring Strathern’s request.
Hashmi said that he paid the city $150 for the documents and that his presentation was made with no input from Strathern, adding that he had not talked to Strathern in six weeks.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra