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City Beat

Column
BY JEFF CLARK
jeff.clark
@test.columbuspacket.com/packet

When The Dealin’s Done

Marty Turner File photo

Marty Turner File photo

On Monday, Mayor Robert Smith and the new council will be sworn in at 5 p.m. upstairs at the Trotter. This will be a big night for newly-elected Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner.
I had a conversation with Turner Wednesday evening and he said he is looking forward to becoming a councilman.
“I’m very excited to be sworn in,” Turner said. “I’m ready to serve the people of Ward 4 and the people of Columbus as a whole.”
Turner said his mother will be holding the Bible for him when he takes the oath of office. Turner said his campaign supporters, including the Chocolate Roses and Edwin Chandler, will be attending the ceremony.
He has scheduled a city-wide water party for Friday in Memphistown on 23rd Street at 5 p.m. Turner said he hopes all of the city’s children will turn out for the event.
“My goal is to bring the city together,” Turner said.

With the council taking office Monday, they will conduct their first act of business Tuesday night at the regularly scheduled council meeting. This could be a fairly exciting meeting as several items will be placed on the table, including the coveted vice mayor position. Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin currently holds the spot, and he has told me he hopes to be able to serve as vice mayor for another four years. But it is unlikely Gavin will have the votes, and when I say “unlikely,” I mean no chance at all. It’s not going to happen.
Turner is the wildcard in the vice mayor’s race. With a 30 percent pay raise passed 3-2 at the last meeting, the dealing has been done to put Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem in the vice mayor’s seat. But Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens has been unpredictable in the past. If he were to step out and doublecross Karriem, who voted with Mickens on the pay raise, then Turner will be victorious.
“I do want to be vice mayor,” Turner said. “I do hope people will vote for me. I hope people in the community will be OK with me being vice mayor.”
One person’s support he will not have is Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box. I had a discussion with Box about who will be chosen vice mayor.
“Marty (Turner) is young and unproven and I don’t think I can vote for him for vice mayor,” Box said.

The vice mayor position will not be the only item on the agenda Tuesday night. This will be the night when professional city services are chosen. Word on the street is that prosecuting attorney Shane Tompkins may be on his way out and Aberdeen Municipal Judge Scott Colom could be on his way in as prosecutor.
“I just want to see how people feel about Shane and how they feel about Scott,” Turner said. “I just want the best person for the job. They are both friends of mine.”
This could set up a three-way split with Smith having to break the tie. If Smith is the tie-breaker, look for Tompkins to stay on board. But these are just predictions based on conversations with people in the community.
There were rumors circulating that City Attorney Jeff Turnage will be gone come July 2, but he’s got four votes in Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor, Box, Gavin and Karriem.
“I have no plans to vote against Jeff Turnage,” said Karriem in an earlier conversation. “Jeff’s done a good job and I will stick with him for city attorney.”
But here’s where things get really interesting — rumors started this week that City Engineer Kevin Stafford of Neel-Schaffer Engineering wants to break his ties with the city. As quickly as this hit the streets, a counter-rumor started that Neel-Schaffer will not have the votes to be on the city’s payroll.
This would not seem like a big deal had Stafford not been called on the carpet last week by Mickens over some items that were billed to the city by Stafford on behalf of Mickens’ challenger in the Ward 2 election, Susan Mackay.
“This is absolutely false,” Stafford said. “I enjoy serving as the city’s engineer. As far as the council hiring a new firm, we enjoy what we do for the City of Columbus, but it is their right to select who they want to use.”
And two councilmen have two entirely different responses to Stafford and Neel-Schaffer.
“I don’t think they are going to get voted down,” said Karriem on Wednesday. “It’s unfortunate that I’m hearing that they want to part ways with us. There hasn’t been any discussion on getting rid of Neel-Schaffer that I’ve been a part of.”
“The rumor is they are trying to move (Stafford) out,” Box said. “I’m afraid it’s probably true. I heard they are looking to bring in a city engineer from Meridian.”

Jeff Clark is the Managing Editor of The Packet. You can reach him at jeff.clark@test.columbuspacket.com/packet.

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