City trying to hide finances
People have been asking what happened Nov. 15, 2012, that caused Midway Mayor Pro Tem Curtes Roberts Sr. and Councilman Levern Clancy Jr. to walk out of the May 13 council meeting rather than have the minutes of that meeting read.
Well, here’s the story. I was at the November meeting when the financial director, Gwendolyn Lowe, indicated that there was a need for a 50 percent fee increase for an “outside contractor.” It appears that the contractor now is being paid $36,000 when, up until last July he was paid $24,000 a year. Councilman Terry Doyle questioned the $12,000 difference and who authorized it.
Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington exclaimed that she gave the contractor the increase. At this point, Doyle asked the city attorney to come to the podium, and Doyle asked the attorney if the mayor had the authority to give such a raise without the council’s approval. Attorney Richie Braun said it depended on the wording of the contract.
Doyle then said, “I would like to see the contract.” Immediately, Washington stated that there was no contract. It appears that the mayor gave this raise without consulting the council or obtaining the council’s approval. And both she and Roberts had been signing the increased monthly checks to the contractor since July 2012.
Doyle wanted to pursue this issue further, but the mayor cut him off by stating that this was not a budget meeting and that they were going to move on.
Doyle fought for seven months to have these facts entered into the minutes. The issue was defeated. The mayor and Clancy claimed that since no action was taken, the discussion did not have to be in the official minutes. To me, the fact that a need to increase the budget, and that the issue was defeated, are actions and the issue should have been in the minutes.
There is a reason the city has a city council, and that is to be a check on the mayor and to safeguard taxpayer money. This is the second time the mayor had work done without a contract. Remember the Lake Gale road repairs? That work was done without a contract and the workmanship was shoddy, as re-occurring potholes attest.
Talk about spending taxpayer money: The citizens of Liberty County are upset with Lily Baker, the chairman of the Board of Education for taking trips around the country at taxpayer expense in 2012, which totaled $5,960.
Well, in Midway we have two officials who are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Doyle and Councilwoman Melice Gerace always check for the best rates before traveling to meetings.
For example, in January 2011 Washington, Roberts, Clancy, Gerace and Doyle attended a Mayor’s Day Conference in Atlanta. The mayor, Roberts and Clancy stayed at the Atlanta Hilton and paid $165 per night per room and $21 for parking. Gerace and Doyle stayed at a four-star Motel 6 one block away, and each of their rooms cost $59.39 a night with free internet and parking.
You do the math.
Stay tuned for another day in “As the World Turns in Midway,” and discover why a city mayor hassled a council member for saving the city money on travel expenses, claiming the council person saved the city money by a “non-acceptable use” of a city credit card. Don’t miss the next exciting episode.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and has written articles for trade publications in various fields for 30 years.