It appears that Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington really believes Midway is hers to rule. Midway’s charter calls for a weak-mayor/strong-council system, which means the mayor should have no formal authority outside of the council.
During a May 22, 2013, discussion about paving city roads, the mayor stated that she is the “official representative of the city,” and she told Councilman Terry Doyle that the Georgia Department of Transportation is “... not obligated to speak to you” — even though, according to the charter, the city council holds sway over the mayor.
This all started Sept. 11, 2012, when the notification, application and instructions for the 2013 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant were sent to the mayor, giving her 3½ months to get the application approved by the city council. During the Dec. 18, 2013, special called meeting, using “crush and run” — a mixed grade of mostly small, crushed stone in crushed limestone powder — on Old Sunbury Trail was discussed. The question is: How did “crush and run” became asphalt paving in the grant application? The council never voted to pave the road.
On Dec. 28, 2012, Washington signed an affidavit stating that she was submitting the grant application on behalf of the city of Midway, committing the city to spend $130,270 to pave about one-third of a mile of Old Sunbury Trail over and above the grant amount. The dilemma is that the city council never approved this money to be spent.
The mayor sent in the grant request without approval, even though she stated in a Dec. 27, 2012, special called meeting that all council members would get the application before it was submitted. A copy was sent to the council via email at 6:04 p.m. Dec. 28, after the close of business and after it already had been sent via FedEx to GDOT.
Why was this road selected to be paved at all? Old Sunbury Trail starts and ends on dirt roads. As traffic moves on and off of the paved road onto a dirt road, the paved road will fracture and break, eventually being destroyed. Why wasn’t Windy Oaks Lane selected first, since it is accessed from another paved road, Lake Gale? I guess reasoning did not come into play here.
During the Jan. 14, 2013, council meeting, Doyle, still a councilman at the time, confronted the mayor and told her that she had no authority to submit the application. She responded that nothing was binding and that she did not commit the city to anything. However, on Feb. 13, 2013, the council members received an email stating that the grant for the road project was approved, thereby obligating the city.
Also, Doyle asked the mayor when the council approved the $144,000 for Old Sunbury Trail. She replied, “That amount was not approved.” She insisted that the city was not committed to this amount to pave the road with asphalt, although she signed an affidavit and certification. If Midway does not follow all LMIG rules, it could render the city ineligible for future grants. The paperwork that was submitted for the grant by H&K Engineering Group showed the estimated cost would be $144,000, with $13,730 coming from LMIG and the rest from the city.
On March 5, 2013, Midway was asked to submit its 2014 LMIG application and a project list. In order to get a 2014 grant, the city was supposed to present a project list, indicating the status of the 2013 grant work. This information was to be submitted before July, yet nothing had been done to Old Sunbury Trail. The material to be used for the construction hadn’t even been decided on. The council never was informed on whether the requested report ever was submitted to LMIG.
Read the second half of this column in the April 20 Coastal Courier.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway and has written for trade publications in various fields. Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part column.