By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Why was our City Council majority sounding like the last session of the Confederate Congress? Because, to hear them talk, the passage of the new city charter last year was a disaster akin to Lee’s surrender to Grant. From which civilization may never recover.
Oh yes, there was an issue on the floor, wasn‘t there? It was whether the mayor could appoint an acting administrator to be permanent head of the Community Redevelopment Agency. This appointment power makes a difference -- it determines who controls inner-city development. Many feel the mayor would prefer to let the CRA vaporize and leave such matters to his private-sector friends. Some imagine that making current CRA chief Jerry Scharlin (whom Mayor Dick Riordan deputized when the original CRA head John Molloy left last year) permanent would let this happen.
Now, in the normal order of things, Riordan could make no such appointment without council sanction. In fact, as Chief Legislative Analyst Ron Deaton put it, this is the way such matters are supposed to work under both the old and new charters. The council chose, perhaps mindful of the burning of Tara and whatnot, to pretend otherwise. Appointing CRA heads was just another of those lost, past glories: After much bereavement and little practical debate, the council postponed the matter. Smart money says Scharlin stays on board.
The council’s week of passivity began passive-aggressively, when the council‘s ad hoc charter committee met Monday regarding the transfer of several significant new charter elements into city law. The elements included important stuff, such as who gets to represent the city in various circumstances: the council or the mayor? Now, when you think about it, you mightn’t expect much charter process from a five-member committee that contained two of the most outre charter opponents from last year‘s election.
Chair Laura Chick put on a brave face just before the meeting, telling KCRW’s Warren Olney that her colleagues surely would put aside former differences to pull together. Then she had to deal with the fact that Senators -- I mean Councilpeople -- Nate Holden and Jackie Goldberg were pulling, if at all, in the opposite direction. Neither Chick nor Councilman Mike Feuer made headway, as Goldberg and Holden seemed to rediscover the filibuster. And hence all matters were, of course, postponed again.
Will the cornpone conspiracy really stall the charter? Under law, the council must implement the voter-passed charter by approving the necessary regulations and procedures. So I believe that it can delay matters, if only until next year‘s council election, when its worst mossbacks -- for the most part -- automatically pass from the scene. Will the charter obstructionists get comeuppance in subsequent political life? I do hope so. Goldberg faces a tough competitor in her March Assembly race who’s likely to remind the voters of her reactionary role here.
But at the moment, when it actually can‘t obstruct the process, the council majority seems determined to do nothing on charter-related business. Last week, its definition of such matters included anything affected by the charter change. Such as the seating of department heads.
If that’s the way they want to be, why don‘t the molasses majority simply take a few months off? I understand that coastal Carolina is lovely this time of year.