Richard Hyatt: Let them eat cake?

August 23, 2012 

"Qu’ils mangent de la brioche," Marie Antoinette is said to have declared, but Glenn Davis and Jerry “Pops” Barnes want to delay the eating of cake at Columbus Council.

A resolution they've drafted is being discussed among councilmembers. It would postpone the buying of celebratory snacks until council has had a chance to vote on appointments to city jobs and the idea has brought comments from Mayor Teresa Tomlinson about the $50 cakes.

The proposal has already inspired a spirited exchange of emails between Davis and the mayor that closely follows the hiring of Greg Coates as director of Inspection and Codes.

His appointment was approved July 10 after council failed to ratify City Manager Isaiah Hugley's choice in June.

The first vote didn't stop officials and friends from throwing the party that Tuesday evening on the Plaza Level at the Government Center, right outside council chambers.

The inconclusive 5-4 decision turned the post-meeting celebration into a wake and the contentious atmosphere improved very little the following month when Tomlinson was forced to break a tie in favor of Coates.

Davis and Barnes are considering ways to eliminate the dog-and-pony show that accompanies the votes, particularly what Davis described as the parade of family and friends that were brought in front of council.

"In today's world it is a very appropriate practice to confirm before one can be pretentiously displayed. Gambling that one may have enough votes to confirm an appointment is an awful way to deal with someone's life. As a matter of fact it's plain cruel," Davis wrote to Tomlinson.

To Davis, the scheduling of the party for Coates was an open assumption that council would rubber-stamp Hugley's nominee, to which the councilor was wrong. Davis was answering a message from the mayor in which she said "legislating cake" was beneath the dignity of council.

"Passing an ordinance which disallows the city manager (whether now or whomever that may be in the future) the ability to present his appointment in the fashion he deems appropriate and seeks to disallow the city manager from arranging for a $50 cake and 3 gallons of ice tea in the Plaza seems like micro-managing in the extreme," she wrote.

Tomlinson also presented the former big-league first baseman a lecture on Hugley's responsibilities.

"The city manager handles the daily administration of 3,000 employees and a $266 million budget for a city of 190,000 persons. I would think we could trust the city manager (whomever that may be) to make his appointment as he sees fit and to allow the staff he oversees to celebrate or console in the manner he sees fit," she wrote.

Davis is talking about delaying such festivities until the nominee is confirmed.

"That way we can all celebrate and feel good about eating our cake."

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. He is also found at

www.richardhyattcolumbus.com.

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