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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Politics of excuses make council appear impotent

The surest and quickest way for government to lose public support is to appear weak and sneaky. That's the road Decatur City Council chose to travel this week with its appointment of Betty Marshall as city clerk.

Council members were sneaky in elevating the long-time assistant city clerk. They were weak in their excuses for being sneaky.

On. Oct. 12, council President Billy Jackson added the elevation of City Clerk Gail Busbey to be chief financial officer to the work session agenda. But nothing was said at that time or any time publicly about elevating Ms. Marshall.

Fast forward to Monday's council meeting when on 4-1 votes the council took both actions.

The problem? The selection process wasn't open. Apparently, none but chosen council members were in on the new lineup at City Hall. Certainly, the public had no advance information that this important clerk change was taking place. Mr. Jackson had the opportunity at the work session to tell the public that he and three other council members were considering making Ms. Marshall city clerk.

Why didn't he? He apparently didn't want the word out.

Councilman Ray Metzger voted against both appointments because he said the council had not discussed either appointment.

Good for him.

But the other council members wimped out. They hid behind Mr. Jackson's authority as president.

Gary Hammon didn't like the way the appointments were handled, but he went along, anyway. He said he found out about the pending action no more than an hour before the council session. That should have really upset him.

Then there was Councilman Ronny Russell, who seems to have been in on the orchestration of events. But he said he wasn't responsible for setting the council agenda.

How lame.

Councilman David Bolding said he, too, was not responsible for setting the agenda. That pointed the finger of blame at Mr. Jackson, who was not the least bit apologetic. His response was that he will continue to do what he thinks is best for the city.

How he handled the two appointments was not in the city's best interest, and only one council member was willing to make that point.

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