Future lawsuit number 1.
The Bessemer City Council has taken a page from the Robert Mugabe playbook by passing a measure to extend their terms of office by a year. (Mugabe, of course, finds ways to extend his dictatorship of Zimbabwe without elections).
On a 4-3 vote, the council voted to have the mayoral election in 2010, on schedule, and delay the city council elections until 2011, thus giving themselves an extra year in office.
Put another way, I voted, and you voted, for candidates to serve a four year term, and they just passed a measure that ignores the premise of the election in 2006 and allows them to serve for 5 years.
Jesse Matthews, Louise Alexander, Earl Cochran and Dorothy Davidson voted for the measure. Sarah Belcher, Jimmy Stephens and Albert Soles voted against it.
The mayor called the proposal "ridiculous."
Council member(s) want to run for mayor without giving up their council seat.
This proposal was drawn up by Greg Harris, the attorney for the council (for those who are not familiar, the city council is so dysfunctional that they hired their own attorney, a terrific waste of money for a city that does not have money to spare).
While Bessemer opinions believes that staggering the elections is a good idea, I do not believe it can be done in this manner. Maybe they could shorten the mayor's term by one year, and we could vote for mayor in 2009.
But really it seems a resolution would have to be passed which would change the length of term of officials elected in a future election, not those currently serving.
Bessemer Opinions expects a lawsuit to be filed.
Future lawsuit number 2.
At the same meeting the council voted to accept applications for a replacement for former municipal judge Jackie McDougal, the long time city judge who retired because of illness. The council will interview candidates on July 29 and will vote on August 5. Applications are due by Tuesday.
However, Robert Gordon reports in the Birmingham News that Mayor Ed May has appointed Bessemer attorney David Hobdy to replace McDougal. May acknowledges that the action would normally be a council responsibility, but says state law allows him to make the appointment because of McDougal's disability.
Lawsuit. Unless Hobdy applies through the council and is approved.
Current lawsuit. From Robert Gordon of The Birmingham News
Willie Petty, Bessemer resident and political activist, has filed a lawsuit against the city , Jordan Frazier and Daimler-Chrysler over the $2 million gift the city gave to former Jordan Frazier auto dealership ( the dealership is now named Bessemer Chrysler Jeep Dodge). In May of 2007 the council passed a resolution giving Frazier the money in part because other "dealerships got financial incentives to move to the Academy Drive area and Jordan Frazier did not."
The lawsuit claims that Frazier and Chrysler presented documents indicating the money would be used to create new jobs and expand the dealership.
Jon Terry, attorney representing Petty, says "It appears the Chrysler has taken over the dealership. It looks like the money was used to pay off old debt."
The lawsuit does not seek recovery of the money. It seeks to void the agreement, and if successful, it would be up to the city to recover the money.
Many Bessemer residents will be pleased to see this lawsuit as they were not in favor of the gift to begin with.