EDITOR'S NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author of the post and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Patch.
Remember when you were a young inexperienced kid about to do something wrong, maybe even illegal, and an older wiser soul told you not to do it; and you did it anyway?
This is exactly what happened January 3, 2013, at the Canton City Council meeting, when Roy Barnes, yes, former Governor Roy Barnes, spoke before the council. You see, the council previously voted to pass a charter amendment, that would take power away from the Mayor, and the Mayor in good faith vetoed this amendment. Governor Barnes went before the council quoted case law and how it applied to our charter, more specifically the section the council was seeking to amend, and even said he authored the legislation that made their amendment unconstitutional and the council ignored Governor Barnes’ testimony voted 5-1 to override the Mayor’s veto. The only councilman to vote to sustain the Mayor’s veto was Councilman Cummins.
Even after the Governor and the Mayor tried to stop the council from passing an amendment that was unconstitutional and only the state assembly had the authority to pass, they chose to override the Mayor and pass the amendment anyway. What does this mean for the Mayor, City Council, and the citizens of Canton? The decision to ignore what the Governor said and the Mayor vetoed has entwined Canton in a legal battle that is likely to cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
If you remember, there is currently speculation that several councilmen have been meeting behind closed doors, which has been reported to the Attorney General’s office, and the continued outcry of discontent with decisions of the council. It is my belief, and the belief of many Canton citizens, that the council has become ineffective and we have reached an impasse. To that end, it would be best for the City of Canton if Councilman Bryan, Councilman Beresford, and Councilman Huffman tender their resignations immediately for lack of confidence and conduct unbecoming of an elected official.
Remember when the citizens of Canton approved a 5 million dollar reservoir? The City Council asked the citizens to give them a 5 million dollar check but failed to provide a clear vision for the reservoir. As of today the taxpayers of Canton are liable for over 25 million in capital, which is 25% of the total cost of the project. . Sadly the reservoir has produced not a single drop of water and is still costing the taxpayers more money. This failed leadership of the council and clear vision has caused a lack in confidence in the council to appropriately manage the affairs of the city and the money.
After spending over 25 million dollars, to date, on the reservoir, the City Council recently passed a referendum that will go to the taxpayers in March requesting a 6 million dollar bond for the renovation of the Downtown Fire Station, three additional fire stations, and fire trucks. I recently met with Bill Bryan, at the Canton Library, and he informed me that the fire chief was doing most of the research for the cost of the project. Wait, a fire fighter is doing what? Shouldn’t you have builders, architects, and engineers putting together the details of this type project?
Further, I asked Councilman Bryan if there were blueprints for the proposed fire stations and told me that they “had blueprints of other standard fire stations.” I asked if the land was ready to be built on and if the 6 million was a hard number based on proposals; he said it was a good number that the fire chief worked up. So Bill Bryan wants the citizens of Canton to give you another “blank” check with no vision? The answer is NO!
To add, during the January 3, 2013 city council meeting the city councilmen themselves acknowledged how ineffective they are in governing. After watching the video of the council meeting I counted about 12 times where a city councilman talked negatively about Canton or the City Council’s ability to govern. My question is simple: if you, the city council, don’t believe in yourself then how is anyone else going to believe in you? It is my belief that the council and citizens lack confidence in the City Council and for that Beresford, Huffman, and Bryan ought to resign immediately.
Over the past couple days I have been thinking about the horrible events of that cold January night, speaking about the January 3rd council meeting, and I began to wonder what the papers would write about Canton and the council. I have honestly never in my life seen such disrespect and conduct unbecoming than I did that night. Conduct unbecoming means: conduct on the part of a certified professional that is contrary to the interests of the public served by that professional, or which harms the standing of the profession in the eyes of the public.
When Governor Barnes was speaking Councilman Huffman cut him off repeatedly, admitted he did not know the functions of government, and made snide remarks under his breath. Further, Huffman blatantly disrespected the Office of the Mayor during this council meeting. Councilman Beresford kept making remarks to the audience instead of directing his responses to the Mayor, spoke disrespectfully to the Mayor, made numerous hand gestures, falsely accused the Mayor of sending personal emails on official city letterhead, and most shocking was he called the Mayor a “sorry bastard” at the end of the council meeting (can be found on the second video during the last 15 seconds of the recording.
Councilman Bryan used profanity (and this is only one of multiple times he has used profanity while in the chambers), disrespected the office of the Mayor, and speaking directly to a citizen with belittling him. None of the three men understand the form of government we have in Canton, even after the Governor explained it to them.
Under the strictest of scrutiny the elected official must maintain control and respect the office of which they hold. Being a Canton City Councilman means you represent the interest of citizens who elected you, both in the chambers and in any business you conduct for the city. The actions witnessed January 3, 2013 prove that the council and Canton’s citizens have reached an impasse and it is time for Bryan, Beresford, and Huffman to step aside. I have read what others have written about our council and their behavior and I am embarrassed that people we elected to represent us and hold the office to the highest of standards put Canton negatively in the spotlight.
As most of you know I proudly served my country, and each of you, in the United States Navy. We were taught honor, courage, commitment and that we must hold ourselves to the highest standards. When a sailor failed us he was censured and stripped of his uniform and discharged. I urge each of you to contact Councilman Bryan, Beresford, and Huffman and demand they turn in their uniforms and lay before the Mayor their resignation. Below you will find links to the patch article written about our council, the video link of the council meeting, and contact information of each of the three councilmen:
Video of council meeting:
Councilman Bryan: cell # 770-827-0048 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman Beresford: cell # 678-361-7081 email: email@example.com
Councilman Huffman: cell # 770-853-8193 email: firstname.lastname@example.org