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Resolve to do more and more often

The Demopolis City Council has made a habit of taking too long to get too little done and table too many discussions in recent years. Thursday night’s meeting was little exception given the amount of energy and time spent on what seemed like a short agenda heading into the first meeting of 2011.

On the positive side, the city council did vote on a few issues Thursday night.

The first, and perhaps most perplexing, vote of the evening saw the group settle on a course of action regarding a vacancy on the Industrial Development Board.

The discussion served as a carryover after the topic was tabled at a previous meeting. It centered around two individuals who had been nominated for the empty seat.

Rather than vote on which of the two individuals would fill the vacancy, the council opted for an uneasy precedent. The resulting vote placed one individual in the current vacancy and preemptively placed the other on the board effective March 1.

It is the City Council equivalent of the President of the United States filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court and announcing ahead of time who the next appointee will be when another seat comes open.

At that time, three other IDB members will be up for reappointment.

So, rather than take time to evaluate the work of those three IDB members and determine whether or not each should return to the board for another appointment, this council decided to arrive at what it calls “compromise.”

Instead of voting between two individuals for one seat, the council decided to create for itself a vote that will focus on three individuals for two spots.

More alarming than that is the fact that one of the three individuals up for reappointment may not have the opportunity to have his or her body of work fairly evaluated because it has already been predetermined that the delayed appointee is more worthy of the seat than at least one of the current IDB members. Granted, the IDB member in waiting may be a quality individual who could do great things for the city of Demopolis. But to install him in a move designed to avoid having to follow the tried and true method of voting out in the interim is nothing short of a head scratcher.

After a lengthy discussion that produced an unfavorable precedent, the council moved on to a debate that started with the purchasing on an infrared camera for the fire department, moved on to the merits of undermining city department heads, included a spirited speech from one councilman and an offended rebuttal by another before finally settling on a vote that honored the recommendation made by the appropriate department head in the first place. While the intentions and sentiments of each individual involved in that discussion were understandable, the dialogue involved far too much grandstanding to be considered efficient or effective.

The Demopolis City Council is blessed with a number of intelligent, rational, caring individuals. Unfortunately, those traits do not always translate clearly during the group’s processes.

It is a new year and time to turn over a new leaf and move forward. The Demopolis City Council should resolve in 2011 to get more accomplished in less time, stop voting not to vote and make a decision even when the result may be tough to swallow for someone.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of The Demopolis Times.