City aldermen reject mayor's street nominee
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:00 AM
A recommendation by the Mayor that would change the longstanding tradition of an aldermen serving as city street commissioner failed last week for lack of a second during the first meeting of the newly elected board.
Mayor James A. Young asked aldermen to appoint Rusty Holley, the current street foreman, as commissioner.
By law, the board has to appoint a street commissioner but not a commissioner to oversee the fire, police and cemetery departments, among others.
Young told aldermen that Holley had the expertise and experience to serve as commissioner.
"His duties don't change," Young said. "He is already doing what the job requires. He serves at the will and pleasure of this board."
Young said he wanted to "cut out the red tape" that had interfered in the past with the day-to-day operation of the street department.
In the past, he said, five different aldermen could direct the street foreman to do certain tasks.
"By law you can not direct city employees," Young said. "I know how it's been done but that wasn't correct. That was not correct."
As mayor, Young said it was his job to oversee department heads.
"We are starting off like the order of the law states," he said. "Until we get it right, we are going to have confusion. My role is I oversee everything in this city. Y'all demand what you demand and it comes to this office."
He asked aldermen to approve his recommendation, saying he would stake his reputation on it being a workable solution to previous problems.
He said it was important that issues be discussed among aldermen in the board room and "not at a restaurant somewhere else on the other side of town."
Ward 4 Cecil Nichols made a motion to appoint Holley as street commissioner, which failed for lack of a second.
Alderman-at-large Willie Jackson said he had no intention of telling city employees what to do within their departments.
"But, cutting the board out of having a relationship with department heads, I think that is a bad idea," Jackson said.
"He has a lot riding on his shoulders.
"If we have an alderman that can be his liaison with the citizens, I don't think that is a bad idea."
Ward 1 Alderman Josh Gamblin agreed.
"I'm with him. I think two heads are better than one," he said.
Gamblin said there had to be a better way to operate the street department than all requests coming through the mayor's office.
"I think there is a better way but I don't know what it is right now," he said.
Aldermen tabled a decision for a later meeting.