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SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Ray Metzger can play vital role at City Hall

First-term Decatur City Councilman Ray Metzger turned 69 last week in the style the city's residents have come to expect from him.

He went drag racing with his motorcycle and announced that halfway through his term on the City Council he won't be back for a second one.

Not many people race cars or motorcycles at his age but as he says, he's in good physical shape, and he enjoys racing.

Being effective and enjoying what he does are basic to Mr. Metzger's philosophy. He apparently, though, is not enjoying his foray into elected office as much as he enjoyed getting there.

As part of a group that constantly dogged the previous City Council over the controversial one-cent sales tax addition and spending, he rode voter unhappiness to a surprising victory in District 5.

Now, he says, he sees that the council is not going to revoke the tax and that its spending habits are not in line with his fiscally conservative bent.

It's refreshing to hear a politician admit to being ineffective and deciding to move on. But the other things he said on the eve of his birthday Thursday should disturb every city resident. Basically, without calling names, he said a triumvirate runs the city. He's apparently not included in all discussions because he's said he was unaware of proposals until they came before the council's formal session.

"There must be some favoritism going on that I don't get involved with," he said, in talking about his relationship with City Hall.

The three unnamed members are President Billy Jackson, David Bolding and Ronny Russell. Even Mayor Don Kyle complains privately about the lack of discussion that takes place before some decisions.

Historically speaking, governing bodies that have little give and take at work sessions and in formal session are finding other ways to reach decisions. That's not healthy.

Mr. Metzger has two years remaining in his term. Because, as he says, he can't get his program enacted and he's excluded, he can still perform a vital role for all Decatur residents. He can insist that every council member participate in all discussions and that they be in public.

He proved effective in needling the previous administration. Perhaps it is time for him to target the incumbents.

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