Three Columbus City Councilmen, fresh off of a recent re-election to their office’s, voted themselves a raise during Tuesday night’s Columbus City Council meeting. Ward 1’s Gene Taylor, Ward 2’s Joseph Mickens and Ward 5’s Kabir Karriem voted ‘yes’ to the $4000 annual raise. Ward 3’s Charlie Box and Ward 6’s Bill Gavin opposed the raise, pointing out that city employee’s have only had one raise in the past 4 years. Ward 4 City Councilman Fred Stewart was absent Tuesday night (with his recent defeat at the hands of Marty Turner, I doubt Stewart wanted to be put in that position. RW)
It’s typical. To do so quickly after the election, those council members know that the public has four years to forgive or forget (many of us were born at night, but not last night!) Actually, they’re counting on the fact that you’ll just flat out forget, or not really care. Besides, the only one kicking up a fuss is this local newspaper columnist who opposes nearly everything they do anyway. Who listens to that guy anyway?
NAACP’s Lavonne Harris & Kamal Karriem Speak Out About CMSD Board
Local NAACP head Lavonne Harris and WTWG-AM radio host Kamal Karriem (former councilman and brother of current councilman Kabir) came before the council to complain about the Columbus Municipal School District board Tuesday night after the board ousted CMSD Superintendent Martha Liddell. Karriem complained, in particular, about the fact that the school board goes into executive session much too often, especially lately.
It’s long been my understanding from Packet Reporter Brian Jones and others who have long attended those meetings, that the board going into executive session is (and has been) commonplace for some time now. In fact, they do very little-to-no business in front of the public. (Obviously they were complaining because they know that those board members were appointed by the council members they were complaining to.) Furthermore, ironically, I wonder if they realize that they were complaining to a body (the Columbus City Council) that conducts much of their own business out of public view. In fact, in appalling fashion, Mayor Robert Smith and Ward 5’s Kabir Karriem seemed genuinely surprised that the school board acted in such a manner — they wanted answers as well, they said! Their reaction was almost comical.)
Many of the reasons that the CMSD board probably used to oust Liddell were likely legit. But, for that body (the school board) to oust her in executive session and not give the public they serve the reason for doing so, is hypocritical and mimics, well, our own city council. Both of these bodies, if the topic is controversial, run into hiding as fast as a rabbit being hunted!
But, hey, this newly re-elected mayor and council want answers…now! (In my most sarcastic tone). So those school board members will now have to answer to this council when their time comes to be reappointed or not. But it’ll be another four long years for this mayor and council to answer to the public, of which it serves, as far as voting themselves raises and appointing school board members who mimic their own governing style.
And as I often say — the beat goes on.
Harry Sanders “Ticked Off'” By Harvey Myrick
After the last supervisor meeting, Board President Harry Sanders spoke to me about former Columbus-Lowndes Conventions and Visitors Bureau (CVB) board member Harvey Myrick. Sanders and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith had previously jointly-appointed Myrick to the board. With the CVB board about to adopt guidelines relating to banning family members, elected officials or those running festivals from coming before the board to ask for funds, the fact that Myrick was on the CVB board (given his association with Grillin’ On The River) was an embarrassing, glaring example of what the board wanted to rid itself of.
Sanders and Smith tried to get Myrick to resign the position. Sanders said that Myrick immediately kicked up a fuss at the suggestion — Sanders said Myrick even talked about suing. When that happened, Sanders told Myrick he and Smith were removing him from the board.
I’ve said it before — I like Harvey. But Harvey, my friend, you can’t ‘sue’. Board members serve at the ‘will and pleasure’ much like that of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors own board attorney, road manager, financial head and county administrator. In other words, a simple majority vote of the board of supervisors can take either of those county officials out at any time — for any reason. They serve at the ‘will and pleasure’ of those who appoint them.
If you don’t believe me, ask a couple of county officials who previously served in those positions. They were removed, sued, and after a long, expensive court battle, lost their cases.
Open Carry Law
With the implementation of the ‘Open Carry Law’ taking effect July 1, many municipalities and counties are having to take action to insure guns cannot be brought into places such as our courthouses, etc.
Guns in a courthouse have absolutely no place, except in the hands of law enforcement —period!
The views and opinions expressed in Ron Williams’ columns are the author’s and are not necessarily those of The Packet or Packet Media, LLC.
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com.