All the major action's in the city attorney's court Tuesday as Columbus Council votes on laws establishing a Public Safety Review Commission, moving public agenda speakers to the end of its meetings and further restricting on-street parking around Columbus High School.
And with council holding public hearings on demolishing 25 buildings city inspectors have deemed unsuitable for occupation, it could be a long meeting.
The more controversial measure is the law turning Columbus' current "Public Safety Advisory Commission" — established in the wake of the fatal Kenneth Walker shooting in 2003 — into a group with a little more clout.
About 200 police officers have signed a petition opposing the law, which would give the commission the clear authority "to investigate specific public safety matters or incidents involving the Columbus Police Department, Columbus Department of Fire and EMS and Muscogee County Prison."
Police officers opposed to this say they already are subject to the scrutiny of their supervisors, internal affairs investigators and the courts, and adding the oversight of people who are not trained in conducting such inquiries is unnecessary and unwise. Proponents tout this as a way to provide citizen oversight and increase public confidence in law enforcement.
The commission's decisions still would be only "advisory," under the law, which specifies that residents' complaints first must be filed with a department head or the mayor, and not sent directly to the commission. The ordinance also says the commission "may conduct investigations only after department internal investigations are complete and only after all related civil litigation or criminal prosecutions are completed."
The proposed law moving council's public agenda to each meeting's end has drawn opposition from speakers who regularly address council on that agenda, during which any resident can bring up city issues. The public agenda now is scheduled toward the middle of council meetings, following the mayor's issuing proclamations and expressing appreciation to community groups and leaders, and the city attorney's holding public hearings and recording council votes on rezonings and new laws.
And speaking of new laws, again, council lately has been passing multiple daytime parking restrictions in the neighborhoods around Columbus High School, where residents complain of students' leaving their cars lining the roadsides as they head to class. Now another restriction's up for a vote — extending a no-parking zone along the north side of Leonard Street to Forest Avenue, and allowing only two-hour parking 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays on Forest Avenue from Leonard Street to Garrard Street.
Among the buildings that city inspectors have recommended council vote to demolish are structures on Calvin Avenue, North Lumpkin Road, South Andrews Circle, Youmans Street, 13th Avenue, St. Marys Road, 30th Street, Esquiline Drive, 26th Street, First Avenue, Bragg Smith Street, Samson Avenue, 24th Street, Mason Street, O'Neal Street and Ninth Street.
The total price the city would pay Reaves Wrecking for those demolitions is $102,056.