Changes At City Hall

Sometimes it’s good to proclaim your independence; otherwise you’re always just a foregone conclusion. 

That gem of a quote is from episode two of the new political show, Boss when Mayor Tom Kane asks an alderman to act against his anti-Kane voting bloc. Perhaps on Monday, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell channeled the fictitious Chicago Mayor when he announced the 2012 Council committee appointments. Or perhaps he is just showing us that he has paid close to attention to the public and private personas of his colleagues and is making the necessary changes to allow for a more responsive and forward-thinking Council. While this may be glaze over news for most, it has raised eyebrows with those familiar with the political climate at 55 Trinity Avenue. Scott Henry at Creative Loafing and Cardinale of APN have covered the new appointments in their expected tones.

Most notably, District 7 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean has been replaced as chair of the Finance/Executive committee by the Council’s de facto budgetary watchperson Felicia Moore. Adrean will remain on the committee as well as fellow CPA Aaron Watson. Other shifts include Alex Wan replacing Watson as chairman of the Zoning committee and Michael Julian Bond replacing Ivory Lee Young, Jr. as chairman of the Public Safety committee. While Henry deems some of these as anti-Reed appointments, there is more than meets the eye in Mitchell’s thought process. The new appointments play to the strengths and the expressed interests of the incoming chairpeople and at the end of the day provide value to the taxpayers –or so we hope.

For example, behind closed doors, Moore’s pension plan carried much more weight than was publicly acknowledged in the media. APN does well to note that Moore typically opposes walk-in papers, thus requiring the administration to broaden their timeline for an expected up or down vote on the Mayor’s legislation. While this may be a nuanced change to the norm, it allows for more knowledgeable votes by the committee. As chairwoman of the Committee on Council, Adrean, someone with an understanding of processes, has a unique opportunity to iron out some of the wrinkles of Council-to-constituent communications and fine tune the legislative process.

As this Council moves into the latter portion of their current four-year terms, they will be consistently met with an aggressive agenda of responding to the needs of their evolving constituencies and putting forth legislation that promotes smart growth. If we want to live in the regional hub of the South, or better yet a global city, both sides of City Hall have to be able to have candid, comprehensive conversations that address what is best for Atlanta. When tackling transformational projects such as the BeltLine and Streetcar, economic development and becoming a more fiscally sound city, the City Council needs strong, independent voices with sound solutions.