I have not done a recap in a long time. With so many people being able to view the meetings I haven't felt the need. However, after last nights meeting, and frankly the last few meetings, I feel the need to speak on what is happening in our community.
When did we go from being a progressive village who celebrates our diversity and shuns our hateful past to this community who allows city employees to be attacked in public meetings? Who sits by as chaos ensues, orchestrated by a loud minority?
I have spoken to many of you and know that privately you do not agree with the public statements being made and you have stated that you are unwilling to speak publicly because of fear of retaliation and bullying. However, as your Councilmembers, your governing body, we need to hear from YOU! All of you!
Send an email, write a letter, let your voice be heard in some manner. By remaining silent your are consenting to the chaos. Let's get back to being the inclusive community we know we can be.
Let your voices be heard at the ballot box! Know who the qualified candidates are: http://stonemountaincity.org/residents/elections.php These are the only candidates who followed the legal process to have their names on the ballot!
Let's talk about the concept of the "Weak Mayor" form of government. A better term for this form of government is a Council - Manager form of government, in which the Council has the authority as a body (meaning in the actions taken by a vote of the body) and the city manager is hired based on their qualifications to run the day to day operations of the city. The city manager is responsible for enacting the legislation of the council and also reports directly to the mayor. Additionally, although the mayor does not vote unless it is to break a tie, the mayor still has the authority to set the meeting agendas, run the meetings and influence the growth and direction of the city.
The alternative that was being floated in the meeting last night is the "Strong Mayor" form of government, where the Mayor, who is duly elected by a popular vote and is not required to hold any experience or qualifications, is responsible for running the day to day operations of the city.
About 10 years ago, the city took action to move away from the strong mayor government to the Council-Manager form of government. That required an action of the Council, approval from the State Legislature on the new Charter (the rules by which the City is governed) and then it was put up for a vote to the Citizens of Stone Mountain. The Citizens spoke and agreed that we wanted a professional manager running the day to day operations and overseeing the tax payers money.
Finally, lets talk about the proposed Community Redevelopment Incentive Program or blight tax. This ordinance would not replace the existing code enforcement procedures, it would not be an automatic additional tax on all properties. It would provide the city with another avenue to rectify blighted property that have become public safety hazards.
As an example, there is a building on Main Street that has been cited by Code Enforcement repeatedly, the Judge has forced them to rectify some of the issues. However, the building is still falling apart. This ordinance would provide another means for the City to encourage the property issues be rectified for the betterment of the entire community.