Council allowed to take mayor’s power

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Linden City Council acted Monday night in an appropriate manner and exercised its authority in adopting new hiring and firing procedures, Linden City Attorney Alex Braswell said Thursday.

Linden City Council approved a motion by councilman Dennis Breckinridge that Public Safety Director Jeff Laduron can promote someone in the police department up to the sergeant rank and hire his own officers.

The council then voted and expanded the hiring procedures and allowed all department heads to filter through applicants, choose the most qualified and bring it to the council for approval, Braswell said.

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After the second motion, Linden Mayor Pat Vice who previously had power over hiring and firing, objected to the council action and requested an opinion from Braswell.

In Linden council procedures, the mayor does not technically vote except in the case of a tie.

The city attorney told the mayor that evening the council has the right to approve such changes. Under Alabama code section 11-4381 it is reads "the mayor has the power to appoint all officers whose appointment is not otherwise provided for by law." However, according to an Attorney General’s opinion, the council can declare it has power over hiring and firing, Braswell said. "A council may adopt an ordinance which gives the council exclusive authority to appoint a chief of police, all police officers and the superintendent of utilities," the opinion stated.

A resolution will be sent to the Alabama Attorney General’s office for clarification, Braswell said. That clarification should come within a month.

The mayor will be able to vote on future hiring as a member of the council, Braswell said.

At a recent council meeting, Mayor Vice and Public Safety Director Laduron argued over police officers communicating with council members. Vice did not want individual officers bringing grievances to council members, and Laduron had cautioned officers to simply just not talk to council members.

Bingo Legal?

In addition, the Linden council voted Monday to allow a $300 license for bingo. Only coupons non-redeemable for cash can be given out to winners in such a bingo game, Braswell said.

Is bingo is the same category as the other arcade games? "I think it is teetering on the edge of being a game of chance," he said. "A non-cash benefit is won."

Arcades owners are waiting on an Alabama Supreme Court decision on whether such gaming is legal. District Attorney Greg Griggers has interpreted current law as saying as long as there is no cash payment they are OK, Braswell said.

He did not know of any established city licenses for bingo in the state. Churches and nursing homes have bingo games and award prizes. "It is different when you’re giving a cash-like prize; that’s what kicks in the red flag."