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Midway mayor should be 'weak'

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POSTED: April 24, 2014 10:00 a.m.

Editor, Like many of you, I read Len Calderone’s “Midway Perspective” columns with interest. When I was on the city council, I would audio tape the city council meetings and have access to city documents, which I use to review his reported facts. I cannot always support his opinions, but his facts appear to be indisputable.
I also reviewed his April 13 column, and I would like to expand on his statement that “Midway’s charter calls for a weak-mayor/strong-council system” of government.
He is absolutely correct. An understanding of this form of government, how it is assigned and its limitation of the mayor’s authority may help clarify the purpose and content of his articles for our citizens.
Midway’s form of government, as well as its city charter, were approved by the Georgia state General Assembly in accordance with the Home Rule Doctrine.  
Georgia law requires an act of the General Assembly to take, “(an) action affecting the composition and form of the municipal governing authority” (O.C.G.A.36-35-6). Simply put, neither Mayor Washington nor the city council can change the composition or form of Midway’s government.
An extract, in part, from the “Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers” addresses some of the limitations of the weak-mayor/ strong-council system:
“However, in many cities with the weak-mayor form of government, the mayor’s role is primarily ceremonial, with the mayor possessing few, if any, executive powers. For example, the mayor may not have the authority to appoint council committees, develop the city’s budget or veto actions of the city council. Also, the mayor may have limited authority to appoint department heads, subject to confirmation by the city council, but may not possess the authority to fire those department heads.”
The city charter expressly addresses each of the above executive powers and they, along with other executive powers, are retained by the city council and not granted to the mayor.
In Midway, the mayor’s authority is limited to what the city council releases to that office. The mayor answers to the city council, not vice versa. (It would benefit the city if the Midway council asserted its authority.)

— Terry Doyle
Midway

 

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