In previous columns I have suggested a way to help the City find a new City Manager. You can view these articles, but basically I had said to them before I left that they should seek to appoint a group of professional City Managers from around the area to select three candidates for the Mayor and Council to consider. This might be similar to what some churches do in finding a new Pastor.
First though, they must legally post the job on the bulletin board. This has not been done. I began several weeks ago trying to find out when this was to be done.
I called a Council member twice but no return phone call. Then I asked Interim City Manager Brad Hulsey about this and he said to call the City Clerk. I called twice last week but again no return phone calls.
Then I called another person who might know and there was some hesitation and clearly that person did not want to get into it. Finally I called the Mayor and she said this:
Currently they are working on the budget. There is no Finance Director on board and . Mr. Hulsey is doing the best he can in preparing the budget right now.
She pointed out that it would be a waste to look for a City Mgr right now because a possible Manager would also be working on his/her budget for another City. Therefore they would get over the Finance Director hump and once on board then post and advertise or whatever method for a City Manager.
First I think that this whole matter reeks of secrecy. I called two council members beside the one who never called me back, and these two knew nothing of this selection process as outlined by the Mayor to me. So why has the Mayor, who evidently is the only person to know about this plan, never told the council members?
Surely this issue rises to a top issue and all should have an idea of what is going on. Why should they learn about this from me?
Next, while I can see some reasoning behind what the Mayor wants to do she should have cleared it through the Council in open session. Next, there is no reason for anyone at City Hall to believe that they should clam up about such an issue.
Secondly: Why not at least post the job and then get working with the Georgia Municipal League (GMA) on finding the selection committee City Managers and line them up. There is no possibility of finding a new Manager for at least four months or even longer. The budget is voted on in June and then its over for this year. I would think that all would like these top positions to be filled ASAP.
I think it unfortunate when any government has folks wondering about what is going on and finds it hard to find answers. I believe everyone is better than that.
Open Meetings/Open Records Update
Thanks to the efforts of Attorney General (AG) Sam Olens the Legislature approved some sweeping changes to these important laws that I have written about previously.
Open Meetings: Raises the fine for violating the Open Meeting law from $100 to $1,000 for the first violation. Then for subsequent violations, $2,500!
I suspect that after the Governor signs this law that will put an end to these violations state wide. However, vigilance is still needed because the AG cannot go poking around in every City, County and School Board across the state.
Open Records: Reduces the amount that a unit of government can charge for copies of requested documents from .25 cents to .10 cents.
This will greatly improve access to records for the citizens and the media. Some governments have used this as way to stop citizens gaining access to documents and even routine papers that they hand out to Council members at meetings and should anyway be made available to the public at that time for free. They always have plenty of paper items I can assure you.
I hope that you have read on the proposed one percent sales tax increase question that will come before you July 31.
This is very important and extends beyond the sales tax issue. I am busy putting together these articles for you so that you can make a reasoned decision come July 31.
Thanks for reading,