Spokesman for Kennedy Heights residents accuses city council of prejudice

Lisa Yates

Tyrone Smith, a spokesman for the residents of Kennedy Heights subdivision, has accused the city council of prejudice at its July 9 meeting.

“The majority of the council members came to the June 25 meeting with a prejudice mindset,” he said during the public portion of Monday's meeting. “The city council was not following the Gonzales City ordinances to the letter. Instead of tabling the vote, the council proceeded and voted on the 'out of compliance' zoning request. Not conforming to the code of ordinances because of ignorance is simply doing it with a lack of knowledge or unawareness. Having the knowledge and then not conforming to the code of ordinances is arrogance - arrogance, conceit, superiority, pride, self-importance.”

Smith was protesting the council's 3-1 vote which changed 18.62 acres at the intersection of W. Orice Roth Rd. and S. Veterans Blvd. from Residential-15 to Commercial-2.

He asked the council a number of questions, alleging that proper procedure was not followed regarding the zoning request.

“If Emerson is the property owner, then it is their responsibility to petition for the zone change,” Smith said, citing a section of the city ordinance which he read to the council members.

City Clerk Clay Stafford said the Planning and Zoning Commission had the authority to change it.

“You are arguing semantics,” he said to Smith.

City attorney Ryland Percy also spoke, noting the city was following correct procedure.

However, Smith continued reading from the Gonzales Code of Ordinances. He said:

“Any person, corporation, partnership or association of persons violating any provision of this chapter shall be punishable as provided in section I-11. This council has an opportunity to correct your violations of the Gonzales Code of Ordinances. What will this council do?”

Mayor Barney Arceneaux answered saying: “The vote has been made.”

Councilman Ronald “Joe” Waguespack chose to address the antagonistic remarks made against the city council.

“Everything done in planning and zoning was done in a very legal manner,” he said. “I know I did not act in a prejudiced, arrogant manner steeped in self-importance.”

Regarding the rezoning issue, Waguespack stands by the council's vote.

“I still think it's best for the citizens of Gonzales - for all the citizens,” he said. “More positives are going to come out of it.”

In a separate interview with Gonzales Weekly Citizen, Waguespack said he appreciated Smith's presentation and agreed that he had the right to voice his opinions, but disagreed with the name-calling.

“This is not a place for that,” he said. “But I don't believe he was calling me or anyone else prejudiced.”

Councilman Terrance Irvin, who voted against the rezoning at the June 25 meeting, praised Smith's presentation.

“Critique is always good for any organization that governs the people,” he said.

In a separate interview with Gonzales Weekly Citizen, Irvin said he did not believe Smith was engaging in name-calling.

“He was not directly calling anybody prejudiced,” he said. “He was criticizing the process and procedure.”