The Columbus City Council held their regular first of the month meeting Tuesday evening at the Columbus Municipal Complex.
Ward 2 City Councilman Joseph Mickens announced there woud be an official opening of the East Columbus Gym at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning, August 8th.
Citizen Paul Swain came before the council to ask for additional funds to help complete work on the train in Propst Park. Swain has been working on the train for some time now. In addition to other volunteers (other than himself) Swain told the council that he did have one paid contractor that was doing work to help restore the treasure.
“We have done a tremendous amount of work on the train, especially the caboose. All of the interior has been reworked. Those beams are big and heavy. We have water-proofed it where we won’t have that roof-rot anymore. Both ends need to be finished, and the interior.” Swain told the council.
“I do come to you trying to get a little extra this year…before we get into the budget time. We could use up to $4800 to complete this car,” Swain added.
Swain has plans on hopefully completing the task of renovating the train within the next couple of years. He also hopes the train will be able to generate revenue when the renovation is complete.
The council approved the $4800 for the train when Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box motioned to do so. Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin seconded. It was approved 4 to 2 (Mickens and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem opposed).
Next up before the mayor and council was citizen Carl Lee. Lee wanted to speak about city government.
“Lord be, God Bless Columbus”, said Lee as he approached the mic. “Bless Columbus…change is still coming! i’ve given each of you, mayor and council…and City Attorney Jeff Turnage, a copy of a memorandum that I think best for me to read it to facilitate our moving forward this evening. As a citizen of Columbus and on behalf of the many citizens i’ve spoken with in recent days, moreover there are a number of matters which I believe our input is necessary, in order for the best decision to be made by you, our elected officials.”
“Specifically, the first matter that we ask your reconsideration of is the decision to appoint an outside search firm to appoint an outside search firm to assist in the selection of a new police chief. Let us remind you that the city is in the red, or simply put…broke, anyway you cut it! Additionally we have elected you to perform this task as has been done prior to the hiring of former chiefs’ J.D. Sanders and Joseph St John. Clearly we humans are not perfect so selecting a new chief now by you will not result in a perfect choice, but will save us the unnecessary cost, in these tough economic times, of a search firm.”
“We’re concerned that the change of the selection process, or rules of selection, is resulting in the thwarting of our efforts to promote from within a qualified officer.’
“Next, the other matter for your consideration is the recent public outcry regarding the Columbus City School board and the unwillingness to meet with you. Please let us remind you that the city school board is an autonomous entity. Similarly we ask you to reconsider the tone of your request. It has been stated by the school board president that, in the press, the tone of the letters, or request of the problem, we offer you the wisdom of the old adage…you can catch more flies with honey, mayor…and while the discussions and suggestions on these two issues are not our total concern, they are representative of what we believe is an on-going bad precedent for this mayor and city council. Specifically, we encourage you to merely change the tone, spirit…and demeanor coming from your body to us, the citizens, and remember…we have elected you and entrusted to you a service…you are here to serve us, lead us, govern us…but lest you forget, it is still government for the people, by the people…and guess what?…we are the people.”
“I’m concluding by saying this…i’m hoping this is received in the spirit by which it is offered, in the spirit of togetherness…but I will go further and say this to quote the late, great Robert Prather…we walk softly, but we carry a very big stick…and we’re willing now…to wield that stick! We want to meet you at the table to brotherhood…where they’re is room, Mr. Taylor and all, for the community of man. But if you won’t come willingly, we will follow the laws of the land…we will follow the process and we will change what is inappropriate here. I thank each of you for your time.” Lee concluded.
Mayor Robert Smith then said, “Mr. Lee, before you leave let me address a couple of issues here. I’m not aware that the city has requested an outside agency or firm, i don’t know where you got your facts from…for the selection of a police chief…and secondly…i’ll encourage you and whatever group or committee you represent…
“Citizens…”, Lee interrupted.
“Citizens…ok. so what citizens do you represent?” the mayor asked Lee.
“I’m just asking you a question” added Smith
” And i’m just gonna answer you” said Lee.
“Citizens, mayor, are not enumerated out here…they’re not standing out here as says in the beginning of the memorandum…i’m not gonna stand here and identify by name, rank and serial number.” Mayor Smith tried to interrupt but Lee said, “You asked me a question…now if you have the question AND the answer, I can turn and walk away!” added Lee.
After a little more back and forth, Lee finally left saying, “mayor…i’m not gonna stand here and argue with you”.
The council conducted regular business to finish out the council meeting. The city council will meet again in two weeks.0