I surely hope that when residents contact council members for ordinary constituent services, they get better service than this. Don’t be fooled by performative politics, folks. Watch what they do, not what they say. (If they say anything at all.)
In the minutes after the May 11 open forum on the Vick Cemetery GPR report, Mayor Carlton Stevens and Councilmember Gillettia Morgan asked if I could provide a few fast-action items prior to council’s next agenda work session on June 1. Here was my response:
After four days of silence, I wrote:
Morgan replied; the Mayor did not:
I responded with thanks and another quick-hit item.
Morgan promptly responded with the attachment enlarged below.
She provided an update of actions taken by council, noting that the land survey was complete; the surveillance cameras were in place; and New South Associates had okayed and would oversee installation of a fence. She also agreed to place a copy of the GPR report with the library and requested that I provide a copy of my presentation as well. No mention of the independent investigation. Or the reconsecration. (For the record, there is a reconsecration service planned at Vick on August 5, but it is not City-planned or -sponsored. I reached out to two local ministers who got the ball rolling.)
I was a little confused about the “survey” part and asked if a survey map had been produced already.
Morgan’s answer is ambiguous. I initially assumed that by “survey report” she meant a land survey map, but I now think she meant a final GPR survey report.
I responded with some notes about the survey flags and urged that the areas at the edges of the cemetery be scanned with GPR. I did not receive a response to this email.
Fifteen days later, I wrote to ask for confirmation that the City had not ordered the contractor to prepare a survey map. The City is not being transparent, I asserted. In keeping with the theme — no response.
I followed up after four days. Crickets.
On June 29, I emailed all seven council members, the Mayor, the city manager, and the various city officials whose fingerprints are all over decisions about Vick Cemetery. I repeated my request, first made in December 2019, for a full survey map of Vick. (Note that some people received duplicate emails. That’s because, in a shocking lapse of cybersecurity and public records protocols, several council members conduct city business using personal email addresses.) Not one person responded.
Twelve days later, I circled back to ask the Mayor and Councilmember Morgan their positions on the survey map. Neither has responded.
On July 13, I asked City Clerk Tonya West to confirm that the GPR report provided on April 18 was not the final version and to ask if the final would include updates from New South’s June 29 activity. West has not responded.
On July 23, I emailed West and city attorney Jim Cauley a public records request for documents related to Vick Cemetery. Details of the request to come. Neither West nor Cauley has acknowledged receipt of the request.
Expect more. Demand more.
We want a full survey map of the property.
We want GPR work completed at the edges of Vick and in the public right-of-way, and we want a soil penetrometer survey of any wooded areas as recommended by New South Associates.
We want engagement with the descendant community on any proposals for restoration and repair at Vick Cemetery and certainly before any decisions are made about anything, including fences and parking lots. There’s much more to talk about.
We want transparency and accountability.