Back to Elementary School for Many Canton City Councilmen

Many Canton City Councilmen think all municipality forms of government consist of a combined Legislative and Executive Branch, and strive to eliminate Canton's Mayor and his staff.

December 6th’s Canton City Council meeting rendered a true masterpiece, when for more than an hour over a dozen citizens spoke and voiced their deep concern in the direction of our city.  Two of the biggest “takeaways” from the council meeting was:  every Council Member and almost every speaker uttered the word “vision” and their deep desire for a clear vision for Canton; and second was Councilman Bryan’s report, or due diligence, on the structure of government.  This report from Councilman Bryan was an attempt to prove that our Mayor does not need a staff because he is part time and certain powers given to the Mayor were redundant.  Before I talk about Canton’s vision, and the unswerving demand for a vision, I want to first call to question the findings of Councilman Bryan’s report:

On December 8th Councilman Bryan reported to Patch that through his research of the structure of government of other Georgia cities, “I have learned local government is structured very differently from State and Federal Government.  Local government does not have separate Executive and Legislative Branches.”  I have worked for the United States Government and studied politics, at a major research university, for over 12 years combined and will say:  Councilman Bryan’s statement is without a shadow of doubt the most fallacious statement about the structure of any level of government in the United States, and I am deeply alarmed that any elected official believes this and is making policy on this statement.

Any United States History class will teach that the United States Constitution’s first three articles are on the form of government; and the Constitution clearly enumerates powers to three different branches.  This structure of government cannot be changed at any time, at any level, or with any degree of separation.  There are two structures of governments municipalities enjoy:  one with an elected Mayor and a City Council and one with an elected City Council and an appointed Mayor.  The first is what we call a Democrat Republic and the second is a form of Parliamentary Government.  Whichever the form of government a city exercises both have a clear Legislative Branch and a clear Executive Branch.  Canton has elected City Council members and an elected Mayor, both bound by the will of the electorate, and this form of government cannot be changed without the approval of Georgia’s General Assembly and must not contradict the Constitution of Georgia or the United States.  What does this lesson of Government 101 have to do with Bill Bryan’s “due diligence?”  This conclusion for Bill Bryan’s premise of changing the form of government, or even eliminating jobs in the Executive Branch, is rejected. 

To accept this due diligence to accept that:  these other cities have Canton’s history, these cities have Canton’s vision, these cities have Canton’s voters, these cities have Canton’s elected officials and most importantly that these cities have Canton’s full time problems.  Simply put, they don’t.  Canton has full time problems that require real time results and if the mayor, the Executive, needs a full time assistant than this ought to be granted.  To add, the Mayor’s assistant provides a critical role to the people of Canton like:  oversight and transparency, a point of contact when attempting to reach the Mayor or get critical information to the ‘part time’ Mayor, and peace of mind to the citizens of Canton. 

Secondly, Bill Bryan’s research failed to take into account the opinions and desires of his own ward and city.  Time and time again Bill Bryan has gone outside of the city to look for answers when in reality the answers lie right here.  With over 12 citizens speaking vehemently against eliminating the Mayor’s assistant I am convinced it is clear that the will of the people have spoken and this change in government speaks against the desire of Canton’s citizens. 

Thirdly, Bill Bryan’s research failed to provide a true and real time comparison on the full structure of government of these other cities.  When it comes to eliminating jobs, or taking power away from the Executive, Bill Bryan not only supports it but he is wiling to make back room deals and speak deplorably to voters who oppose it.  I bring to fruition the car rental pass through fee, which was to be used to invest in the Main Street Project.  Nearly all of the cities Bill Bryan researched impose this car rental fee while Bill Bryan opposes the fee.  I am concerned the council is picking and choosing different aspects of these other cities to replicate while debunking, or rejecting, those the Mayor and the folks of Canton want. 

Lastly, Bill Bryan is a proponent of firing the Mayor’s assistant and creating a position that was previously eliminated.  If something works we typically keep it, correct?  My concern is the Councilman is leading us down a dead end street by enacting the failed policies of the past.  This Department of Economic Development failed yesterday and will fail tomorrow without a change in its direction, the City Council.  Until the City Council fosters new energy, from new Councilmen, Canton will no be able to cultivate true economic development. 

Now, lets delve into Canton’s need for a vision.  Canton needing a vision is something the voters and council unanimously agree on, including the Mayor.  The Mayor has said he has a vision and this vision includes a full time assistant.  Instead of listening to the Mayor and working to execute his agenda, or vision, this council has been working non-stop to take the Mayor’s power away.  Instead of working with the mayor and saying, “Mayor we need a vision; how may we help you,” this council is calling for a vision but taking all the Mayor’s tools away and his ability to truly and effectively be the Executive.  Now one would be foolish to think the City Council should take all the recommendations of the Mayor, or fall to his feet, but this City Council isn’t listening and continues to exclude other council members and the Mayor out of any process in any vision.

The gang of five continues to meet outside of the public, draft and disseminate letters that outline decisions made in these meetings, and use demeaning and profane language when questioned by the citizens.  This is a clear violation of the charter and the constitution of Georgia.  I fear if this behavior continues we will begin to fall victim of tyranny of the majority and Canton will not begin the healing process from the effects of a Trojan Horse.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jay Saro December 17, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Justin, I will be posting quite a bit more in the days, weeks, and months ahead! Kind regards Jay Saro
Change For Canton December 17, 2012 at 09:16 PM
This is a very well written and insightful blog. I am looking forward to many more of your post. The "gang of 5" needs to know that the public will not stand for this behavior. Bill Bryan is on a power trip and he needs to be pulled in or seek counselling. Anyway, right on!
Jay Saro December 18, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Thank you! Stay tuned!
Username December 18, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I grew up in Canton and recently moved back so I attended the City Council meeting. Frankly I was shocked at how unorganized this meeting was, and how much self promotion was dribbling out of the councilmen's mouths. For many years the towns makeup was mostly law offices, and small retail shops. It has not ever really been a city that offered much, and everyone shopped at the mall. We need to hire a city planner that can make better use of our infrastructure to provide VISION and an experience that anyone can enjoy. We need better parking, and design standards for new and existing buildings. We need walkable paths so that we can connect the downtown loop with our green space near the Etowah river. This area could be used for concerts, and events. And what is it with the old retail buildings that border the Etowah river. Has anyone even dared to buy something there? This is a prime location for art galleries, music instrument stores, collectibles, cafes, and eateries. There is a lot that can be done to put Canton on the map, but the councilmen seem to be more interested in lining their own pockets and personal agendas.
Jay Saro December 18, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Thank you, sir or ma'am, for your thoughtful insight. I think these are great ideas and we should look at each, but I fear that the impasse is so great that we will not truly move down the path of recovery until we get new people in leadership. I am excited by the prospects of candidates for the November City Council Election.


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