Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unrest Growing up in Wilkes County

Kip Burke of the News Reporter reports that Mayor Willie Burns has taken steps to change the city's government from a "professional" council led administration to a strong mayor type in which he can veto anything that the council proposes to him.

Burns clarified, to some degree, what he was proposing. “This motion says that anything we can do under local home rule, it can be enacted. Any other changes, we’ll address at the retreat on the 29, because they’ll need to go to the legislature. But any changes we can make locally by home rule, like give the mayor veto power, which will make this a ‘strong mayor’ government, we can approve.”

Burns insists that the city had a strong-mayor type of government until he was elected, but that was contradicted by the most experienced city leaders. Councilman Pamela L.G. Eaton, who was sworn in Monday night for her fourth term, said that Burns was wrong in that assertion, and said she disagreed strongly with placing all power with one person. “In all my years on the council, we have always been the policy-making body. We’ve never had a strong-mayor system, and I have to say to my fellow councilmen that you’re voting to lose your authority and giving it to one elected official.”

Councilman Ames Barnett held up Georgia Municipal Association’s handbook for elected officials, a book that each of the councilmen should have studied. “In this book, it says that small towns should have what is called a ‘professional’ government, and that is what we have,” he said. “If you go to a single powerful man, everything becomes political because to get anything done, you only have to influence that one person.”

Click on Unrest up in Wilkes County for more.

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