New Haven City Council: Board now complete

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By Stephanie Hornback

The New Haven Board of Commissioners’ special-called meeting Wednesday night was quick, but it wasn’t easy.


In his first official action as mayor, Bobby Johnson asked for nominations for commissioner. Two of the four seats were already filled — by Don Cecil, who ran in the general election, and Fred DeWitt, who was a commissioner the last two years and filed as a write-in candidate for a new term. For the remaining two seats, three men submitted their names — John Ray Ball, a former commissioner who ran for mayor against Johnson; Jerry Nevitt, a former commissioner; and Jeff Rogers.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Cecil made a motion to nominate Ball. But DeWitt, who was the only person who could second Cecil’s motion, remained silent. Johnson then asked for other nominations. DeWitt nominated Nevitt, and, with Cecil’s second, Nevitt was sworn in.

Cecil then asked if he could make a second motion to nominate Ball. The reason, he said, was that Ball had been involved with the New Haven community and its projects for many years. DeWitt said he had a problem with that.

“I think there’s been too much conflict, disagreement and blame,” he said.

Nevitt said he didn’t have a problem with Ball but that he wanted to abstain from the discussion since Ball is a distant relative.

DeWitt made a motion to nominate Rogers for commissioner, and Nevitt seconded. Johnson approved and Cecil opposed.

Speaking to Ball and Tim Bartley with New Haven’s public works department, DeWitt further explained his reasons for not wanting Ball to be on the board, saying Ball and Bartley had to understand his position.

“You two can’t get along,” DeWitt said.

Ball said he disagreed.

“That’s OK,” Ball said. “I’ll run for commissioner in two years and I’ll be at every meeting (in the meantime).”

Johnson then swore in Rogers, a University of Kentucky graduate with a B.A. in journalism who now works in advertising.

On Thursday, Ball said he didn’t hold any grudges, he simply disagreed with DeWitt’s comment that he and Bartley couldn’t get along. Ball voted against rehiring Bartley after Bartley retired, and the two had some disagreements concerning the city’s sewer upgrades.

Ball lost to Johnson in the mayor’s race by 24 votes — 150-126 — which he said proves that at least 126 people in New Haven think he is qualified to be in city government.

In other news at Wednesday’s meeting:

• The board approved a proclamation declaring Jan. 14, 2011, as Phyllis Mattingly Day. Mattingly, Nelson County’s longtime clerk, retired when her term ended in December 2010.

• The board authorized City Clerk/Treasurer Linda Mattingly, Utility Clerk Joanie Corbin, Johnson and Cecil to sign checks for the city.

The board’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at New Haven City Hall.