Thursday, September 28, 2006
Board overrides mayor’s veto
By SUE WATSON
A growing schism between the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen and Mayor Andre’ DeBerry widened a bit more last week with a 5-0 vote to override the mayor’s veto of the board’s pick for police chief.
The board also voted unanimously to offer the general manager position at Holly Springs Utility Department to the last remaining candidate in the applicant pool after another candidate withdrew his application.
Following the override of DeBerry’s veto, the mayor asked to make a statement and launched into a lengthy talk on the three branches of government and duties of the executive and legislative branches. He said the mayor has authority by law to make recommendations for candidates for heads of departments and questioned whether the board has the authority to “screen” an applicant pool or to override his recommendation.
DeBerry said the board, by its override of his veto of a motion to offer the police chief job to an applicant, had “diminished” the position of mayor, but not him personally.
DeBerry questioned the authority of the board to review the resumes of an applicant pool or screen candidates. He asserted that screening of the applicant pool is the right of the mayor.
The department heads choose those whom they want to recommend from a pool of applicants, but he is not given the same privilege, the mayor alleged.
Back in June of this year, DeBerry vetoed board action when aldermen voted to require the mayor to submit all copies of job applications for department heads one day after the deadline listed in the job vacancy advertisement.
The board of aldermen and the mayor have been in adversarial positions a few times in recent years after the board overrode at least two vetoes by the mayor, only one which involved the hiring of a department head.
The other veto overridden by the board came in 2005 in the run up to the municipal elections. DeBerry vetoed a motion by the board to allow alderman Garrie Colhoun to rescind his vote for a financial study the mayor was pushing that involved a contract offer to International Forex Financial Group to do a study of the city’s bond rating.
At the meeting, Alfred Moore said the board of aldermen should speak since DeBerry had spoken on who has authority to recommend someone for a position.
Alderman Russell Johnson defended the board, saying he had researched the question and the law and felt the board was within the bounds of the law in overriding the mayor’s veto in the selection of a candidate for police chief and in becoming involved in the interviewing of candidates.
Aldermen Nancy Hutchens, Tim Liddy and Naylond Hayes made statements in agreement with Johnson.
In an interview after the meeting, Hutchens said if the mayor had authority to hire anyone he wanted without board approval, there would be no need to have a board of aldermen. She said the board has sole authority to hire any city employee, either a candidate recommended by the mayor or another applicant who may not be the mayor’s first choice.
Hutchens said the attorney general opinions she studied indicate that there is a gray area in the law regarding who has the authority to recommend candidates to the board of aldermen for hire.
Turnovers of the heads of departments in Holly Springs is infrequent, usually occurring at the time of retirement.
The last two departments that had new leaders in Holly Springs was the hiring of Information Technology Center director Ken Robinson, appointment of Belinda McDonald as city clerk last year and the hiring of Robert Burby as police chief. Burby spent about two years in Holly Springs before accepting a position in Texas.
In other business, the board:
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