City council moves to cut down surprises

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It’s official. Anytime a member of the Selma City Council wants to introduce a new piece of municipal legislation, the other members have to have been given advance notice.

The Council voted 5-4 to pass a change in the official rules of the Selma City Council.

Council members were allowed to introduce legislation during the meeting and could expect a vote, unless the council decided otherwise.

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The new rule states that all Council members see any item on the agenda at least by the Friday before the Monday meeting.

Council President George Evans introduced the changes in the rules, which was contested by some members of the council.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said it was unnecessary.

In particular, she had problems with listing “financial/budget items” in the rule change.

“I’m not sure I want that in or not,” she said.

Crenshaw also said she was concerned about what would happen during emergency situations.

Evans said the council had the right to suspend the rules in such situations.

“We need a procedure in place so that we can act in good faith,” he said. “I’m trying to cut down on some of the problems.”

Evans was referring to several issues, including the resolution on Good Samaritan Hospital.

The Good Sam resolution was originally brought up on the regular Nov. 22 meeting. Council rules require that any item requiring the expenditure of funds be passed unanimously, or it automatically carries over into the next meeting.

Council member Reid Cain voted against the item, causing the issue to carry over to a special called meeting on Nov. 24.

Cain said that one of the reasons he voted against it the first time was because of the lack of time the council had to review and discuss the resolution.

“Hopefully, (the new rules) will allow all individuals involved adequate time to review this information and receive clarification, if needed, before each meeting,” Evans said in a letter to the council explaining the change.

The new rule passed with a 5 to 4 vote. Crenshaw, Councilman Johnnie Leashore, Councilwoman Janie Venter and Councilman Sam Randolph voted against the issue.

In other business, the City Council reviewed the hiring process for the city’s new Municipal Judge.

Cain said that the public safety committee would meet next week and discuss the screening process for the applicants to the job.

Crenshaw indicated that she favored an open interview procedure, much like the one used to pick the candidates for the Selma City Schools Board.

During the discussion, Williamson asked City Attorney Jimmy Nunn who appointed local attorney Christmas Green to the position on a temporary basis.

Nunn responded that the mayor had.

Williamson said he didn’t think the mayor was allowed to under the Council’s new rules.

Previously, when the council voted to give Mayor James Perkins Jr. appointment powers, the position of Municipal Judge was left to the Council to fill.

“The mayor doesn’t have the authority to appoint a municipal judge,”

Williamson said.

Nunn disagreed. While both Williamson and Nunn cited state law supporting their opinion, the city decided to table the issue.

Some council members said Perkins was well within his rights as long as the appointment is on a temporary basis, as Green’s is.

“The mayor was within his executive authority,” Leashore said. “The mayor is not trying to usurp our authority.”

Williamson requested that the city request an Attorney General’s opinion on the issue.

The council didn’t vote on Williamson’s request, but Evans did say that when the mayor was in attendance, the Council would question him.

“I think we need to open communications,” Evans said.

In other news:

Council members responded to criticism regarding a recent League of Municipality Conference in Indianapolis. The council members who went on

the trip said it was a necessary training trip and that nothing but work was conducted.

“Professional development is very necessary,” Councilwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen said.

Heard citizens requests from the American Red Cross, The National Voting Rights Museum, the Dallas County Health Department and the Zeta Eta Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Service Sorority.