Mayor-elect must tackle an out of control public agenda at Columbus Council meetings

Mayor-elect Skip Henderson - “I understand the amazing potential Columbus has”

After 21 years as District 10 At-Large city councilman, Columbus native Skip Henderson has been elected the city's next mayor.
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After 21 years as District 10 At-Large city councilman, Columbus native Skip Henderson has been elected the city's next mayor.

With only three regular Columbus Council meetings left in 2018, city officials need to reconsider how to handle an out of control Public Agenda but will wait until Mayor-elect Berry “Skip” Henderson takes office on Jan. 7.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley raised serious concerns over the time set aside for the public to speak on topics after it took more than an hour and half during Tuesday’s meeting. A line of public speakers delayed the 10-member council from getting to purchases and other issues until the afternoon.

“I just don’t know the right place for the Public Agenda on the agenda or if it should be part of the proclamation meeting but there is a lot of city business that we must get done,” he said.

Each person gets 10-minutes to speak now. In the state Legislature, the city manager noted that you can state all you can in two minutes and submit the rest in writing to the clerk if needed.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson asked Hugley to return to the council with some ideas. “You know what council has previously said they are not interested in,” she said. “We brought this up several times. We could put it at the end but give people estimates on what time to be here. We can’t tell you for certain but it looks like not before 11 am.”

Councilor July Thomas suggested leaving it up to Henderson and his administration to resolve. “That new administration, I think, must be consulted before we make any kind of decision,” she said.

Henderson agrees with Thomas. “If there is going to be any adjustment, it should happen with the transition,” he said.

After serving 20 years on the council, Henderson recalled how each person was given three minutes each to speak. If you failed to get on the agenda in time, you could wait until the end of the session and council would hear from you.

“I have got some thoughts on it,” he said. “ I’m going to talk to the councilors. Ten minutes is probably more than necessary.”

When asked what he favors, Henderson said one five-minute opportunity is probably plenty to bring something to the city. “We will evaluate it,” he said. “We will talk to members of council and talk to the city manager and get his input.”

With 10 minutes for speakers, Henderson realizes that councilors have been sitting around for more than three hours sometime before Hugley gets to his items. “You want them sharp and paying attention to what’s coming up,” he said. “They do a good job. It is an added challenge when you got that much time.”

With issues piling up already for the new administration, the council apparently wants Henderson to get to every meeting promptly. They approved a new Ford Explorer at a cost of $31,355 for the mayor-elect.

If you’ve seen something that needs attention, give me a call at 706-571-8576.