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Douglasville mayor’s veto of power shift effort stands
by Bill Baldowski
April 23, 2014 09:20 AM | 2288 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Douglasville City Council Monday night declined to override Mayor Harvey Persons’ veto of an April 7 action to shift some of the decision-making authority of the mayor to the council.

At the meeting, Councilman Samuel Davis read the mayor’s veto. However, no motion was made regarding the veto, allowing it to stand.

It would have taken five council votes to override.

After the meeting, Persons said he was pleased the governmental process was allowed to work, “and it worked as it should,” he said.

“The council and I had differences of opinion, which I respect, and there is a process in place to resolve such differences which was completed,” he said.

The city council had passed the amendment 4-2 April 7. Persons then filed his veto April 14.

Councilman Mike Miller said the proposed changes would have decentralized the near unilateral decision-making authority granted the mayor, which began with former Douglasville Mayor Mickey Thompson in 2004.

“The majority of this council wanted to restore an equal balance of decision-making power between the council and the mayor,” Miller said. He said the proposed charter change would have restored a rule preventing the mayor from any interference in the day-to-day operations of the city manager and city staff, “as contemplated by the city charter and Georgia law,” Miller said.

“Unfortunately, the mayor’s layman approach to the law, and admitted bias on the matter, led him to obstruct the restoration of an equitable balance of power in the city and blocked measures to protect city employees,” said Miller, who is an attorney.

The proposed charter change would not only strip the mayor’s office of its exclusive authority to appoint city council committees but also deny mayoral authority to direct city employees in the performance of their duties, Persons said.

In addition, the proposed charter change also would have denied the mayor’s authority to obtain written reports from city staff as well as make a second nomination to appoint an individual to any appointed office with these duties being transferred to the council, he said.

“Stripping the authority of the mayor’s office of its basic duties is tantamount to abolishing the office of the mayor mid-term, and without a referendum, which is prohibited by state law,” Persons said.

He said that, although the proposed charter change would have left in place the generally described executive authority of the mayor to see that all city laws and ordinances are executed, “it would have removed the means for the mayor to do so,” Persons said.

“The proposed charter change would have removed the executive power of the mayor, who is elected city-wide, and given that authority to the mayor pro tempore, who is elected from one city district,” Persons said.

The council appoints the mayor pro-tem, who presides in the mayor’s absence, annually from among its members

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