Byrden upset with fellow councilmen, left meeting early
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A Cairo city councilman visibly upset when his motion died for lack of a second, abruptly exited the meeting Monday night before the council adjourned.
The city council has briefly discussed the idea of videoing council meetings and rebroadcasting them or live streaming them in recent months and City Manager Chris Addleton solicited proposals to provide the council with options and projected costs.
Addleton presented three options Monday night including:
A proposal from Blough Tech of Cairo to install cameras and other equipment to facilitate downloading the video broadcast of the meeting to YouTube for a cost of $2,000.
A proposal from EW Visons LLC of Tallahassee to videotape all meetings for a fee of $400 per month and the video would be uploaded to the city’s website.
A second proposal from EW Visions LLC to live stream all council meetings for a charge of $650 per month.
Councilman Demario Byrden offered a motion to accept the bid from Blough Tech, but his motion was not seconded by any of the other councilmen present, including Mayor Pro Tem Lannis Thornton, Councilman Jerry Cox or Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas. Councilman Bobby Gwaltney was absent Monday night.
Later in the meeting, when Mayor Booker Gainor recognizes each council member for individual reports, Byrden voiced his displeasure with his fellow councilmen opting not to second his motion.
“I don’t know why it didn’t pass,” Byrden said and he insinuated Gwaltney’s absence may have been intentional.
Byrden said that working people could not come to council meetings and that the public should be able to “see what is going on here.”
Councilman Byrden also criticized council members who may have pledged to support live streaming of the meetings while campaigning for reelection and then failing to act once they were reelected.
Byrden himself previously videoed and broadcast a council meeting on his own without consulting the council or seeking their cooperation. Members of the audience have also videoed council proceedings previously and posted them on social media.
None of the councilmen responded to Byrden and he abruptly exited the room.
After Byrden’s departure, Thomas L. Lehman, city attorney, sought to gauge the council’s interest in an ordinance that would permit short-term leasing in the city such as rentals offered through Airbnb.
According to Lehman, both Thomasville and Bainbridge have adopted short-term leasing ordinances. “If this is something you are in favor of I will begin work on putting something together for you to look at. If not, I won’t,” Lehman said.
Councilman Jerry Cox said that he receives frequent communication from people in the community asking for an update on the ordinance revision.
“I’m in favor of it. I get calls after every meeting so let’s kill it or write something up,” Cox said.
Lehman said he would begin work on an ordinance and would bring it back before the council for its review.
Mayor Gainor ended the meeting calling for better relations between the council. “I admit there is bad blood in the water. I look to put it behind me,” the mayor said and added that he would work with any of the councilmen on the council.