The recently-elected Columbus City Council and Mayor Robert Smith were sworn into office Monday during an inauguration ceremony at the Trotter Convention Center. This is one of my favorite parts of the democratic process — seeing those who were elected with their moms and wives and family taking the oath of office.
But it was back to business Tuesday night. Actually, it was back to business a few hours after the inauguration ended as the wheeling and dealing started, leading up to Tuesday’s council meeting.
Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens has versed young Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner in how to make substitute motions as Turner made not one, but two on his first night behind the desk. But proving he is his own man, Turner would betray Mickens by the end of the night. “Et Tu, Marty Turner?”
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor was elected vice mayor on a 5-1 vote, which I didn’t see coming. I can see why Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin voted for him, but I fully didn’t expect Mickens and Turner to go that route. It’s strange days in the Friendly City.
Taylor would repay Mickens when he voted for Scott Colom for city prosecutor. In the battle of the really nice guys, Colom unseated Shane Tompkins as prosecutor.
“That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Karriem Tuesday night.
Turner also made a substitute motion to have the city request proposals from engineering firms. Reading from a script, literally, Turner made the substitute motion, knocking Neel-Schaffer off the table. Once again, this was, I’m assuming, at Mickens’ prompting.
The council also voted 4-2 to hire J5 Broaddus as the city’s project manager. An affiliate of Broaddus and Associates, who managed Camp David during the Reagan Administration, it is owned in part by Smith’s former campaign manager Jabari Edwards.
“Man, that the first thing people are going to say when they hear it’s my company,” Edwards said Tuesday night. “But I promise you, we will bring some value back to the city without straining its budget.”
Edwards said he started the company a couple of years ago. He said Broaddus is a very reputable company.
“I was on the ground in New Jersey four days after Sandy hit,” Edwards said. “We have helped with the rebuilding of Smithville. We are not an engineering firm, nor are we an architecture firm. We help with projects and work hand-in-hand with engineers and architects. We are a grant-based company. We aren’t here to cost the city a bunch of money.”
Box and Gavin, who voted against the company, both said they had no information about J5 and were surprised to see it on the agenda.
“The presentation has been at city hall for a couple of months,” Edwards said when asked why the council wasn’t notified about the project management company until the board meeting.
The real kicker of the evening was when Gavin asked the council to rescind the pay raise that was passed two weeks ago.
And here’s how Taylor became vice mayor….
Box, who nominated Taylor, and Gavin threw their support behind Taylor for vice mayor if he would vote to rescind the pay raise. This could have been a risky move that would have forced Smith to break the tie. But Karriem, who was betrayed by Mickens for the vice mayor’s spot, and who supported Mickens’ pay raise request the first time, spoke out against the raise. He publicly stated he was backing Gavin and Box to rescind the pay increase. And Turner followed the others, leaving Mickens as the sole vote for the pay increase. Mickens glared at Turner like he was shooting a hole through him with his laser eyes. Good for Turner.
Jeff Clark is the Managing Editor of The Packet. You can reach him at email@example.com/packet.0