Who Needs a City Charter?
"Why do we need an agenda item to cure something doesn't need curing?"
By Wells Dunbar,
11:08AM, Thu. Nov. 8, 2007
Controversy sparked on the dais this morning when Mike Martinez raised objection to a clean-up item buried in today's agenda: Item 57 ratifies a $57,000 payment to the World Congress on Information Technology for booth rental. City Manager Toby Futrell shelled out the money for the convention last year, yet her administrative spending limit at the time was only $47,0000 – meaning she spent $10K more than she was allowed to. Martinez then put the question to City Attorney David Smith (with whom there's no love lost), asking "whether or not that act violated the city charter."
"The short answer is, in my opinion, no, it did not," Smith said. He noted council vested Futrell with the authority to spend over $1.5 million on the WCIT; with that, "it is my opinion the manager did not have to come back to council with each invoice."
"Then why do we need an agenda item to cure something doesn't need curing?" Martinez asked. Smith replied that external audit firm KPMG had "expressed concern" with the episode." Martinez then asked he be shown voting no on Item 57.
Couple that with the fact that Sheryl Cole, Betty Dunkerley, Will Wynn and Brewster McCracken all just voted to deny voters the chance to make needed changes to the office of the City Attorney, and you've got a sorry City Council more interested in deference to authority and the maintaining the status quo than democratizing a suffocatingly-insular autocracy.
But hey, we've got a website!