Council opposes Sen. Sanders’ bill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

A 6-to-3 vote of the Selma City Council at its Monday meeting puts the council’s opposition to a bill affecting the appointment powers of councils across the state in writing.

The resolution, which was opposed by council members Jean Martin, Sam Randolph and Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, states that &uot;The Selma City Council goes on record opposing the bill recently submitted to the State Legislature by (State) Senator Hank Sanders.&uot;

The resolution continues that &uot;The passage of the bill would, indeed, undermine the appointment power of the Selma City Council. We the members of the Selma City Council do here urge the defeat of the bill giving the mayor the appointment power.&uot;

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The council currently has the power to appoint department heads.

In a Friday press release, Mayor James Perkins Jr. said he didn’t know that the bill had been resubmitted by Sanders until he received a copy late Wednesday afternoon.

The same bill was defeated 62-8 in late 2003 after vocal opposition by State Reps. Yusuf Salaam and William Dukes.

Salaam, who was present at Monday’s meeting, questioned the city’s governmental stability if appointment powers changed with each new mayor. &uot;When he (Perkins) was elected, he bought the form of government we had,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;If he’s voted back in, he can tell the council that he has a mandate for change.&uot;

Salaam said that elected officials shouldn’t have the right to change the system of law. &uot;That sounds more like a Latin American government, not an American government,&uot; he said.

Perkins previously stated that he wouldn’t ask Sanders to remove the bill because it had already been submitted. On Monday he explained why he wouldn’t make the request.

Council President George Evans said former Mayor Joe T. Smitherman had appointment powers in the early 90s, but gave them up after a series of protests. Crenshaw, though, said that Smitherman held department heads in &uot;bondage&uot; because he had appointment powers.

Perkins said that when he became mayor, he and the council had an agreement. If he recommended a department had, and the council agreed, no problems would ever develop. Perkins said it worked for a while, but eventually the council declined to accept a recommendation.

Evans noted that the council agreed with all of Perkins’ recommendations, except one.

Councilman B.L. Tucker agreed. &uot;We gave him city attorney,&uot; he said. &uot;We gave him finance director. We gave him an administrative assistant. We gave him everything he wanted.&uot; Perkins then appealed to the council to not allow Salaam to draw the city into a confrontation. &uot;If Mr. Representative wants to argue it, he can argue it in Montgomery,&uot; Perkins said.

To which Salaam replied, &uot;I can’t come to a council meeting?&uot; After handling other city business, the council returned to the issue near the meeting’s end and voted 6 to 3 in favor of the resolution.

In other matters the council:

Discussed a curfew ordinance. Selma’s crime task force recommended a curfew for youth at the city’s second town hall meeting on crime in December. The council placed the ordinance on first reading and will examine it again at its Feb. 23 meeting.

Discussed the city’s noise ordinance. Crenshaw said she wanted a bi-monthly report from the Selma Police Department detailing how many noise violations were given for each period. &uot;If we get that, we’ll know if the police are doing their job,&uot; she said.

Heard from Youth-in-Government Mayor Jessica Willis. Willis said that Youth-in-Government members had examined the city’s smoking ordinance and had several suggestions. Suggestions included forbidding smoking in any sports arena and raising the fine for violating the ordinance.

The council voted unanimously to examine the suggestions.