City Council snubs other charter changes

Published 9:57 am Friday, December 23, 2011

FRANKLIN—Dr. Linwood Johnson said he was “shocked” by the City Council’s lack of action on charter amendments proposed by him and other citizens at the same time the council was sending other charter changes to the General Assembly for approval.

City Attorney Taylor Williams determined that the suggested amendments, including requiring a supermajority for approval of future charter changes, were legal, but no motion was made at a Nov. 28 meeting to move forward with the changes.

At the same meeting, the council voted to submit to the General Assembly charter changes recommended by Franklin attorney Jim Rainey. Those changes, which require General Assembly approval, include a recall procedure for council members and a requirement that sitting council members resign before running for mayor.

Proposed changes snubbed by the council included term limits for council members, a supermajority of six votes for future charter amendments, an elected school board, and converting from a council-manager form of government to a mayor-council form, in which the mayor would have more control over the day-to-day operations of the city.

“I was shocked actually they would respond in that fashion because it was open to citizens to make changes,” Johnson said. “Those are all things that other municipalities are using.”

Councilman Greg McLemore said he hopes the other changes are brought back before the council but added that he doesn’t plan to bring them up.

He said he believes no action was taken on the other suggested amendments because, unlike Rainey’s amendments, they weren’t designed to kick anyone off the council.

“These charter amendments weren’t written to benefit citizens,” McLemore said.

Councilman Don Blythe said he would have made a motion to send the second group of amendments to a public hearing, but they didn’t have the votes to pass.

“I think they should’ve all been added,” Blythe said of the amendments.

Johnson added that he would continue to bring up the proposed changes at future council meetings.

Williams said a charter amendment would not be needed to switch from an appointed school board to an elected one. Such a change could be made by voter referendum.

Franklin resident and former police Sgt. Ronnie McClenny pitched the proposed switch from the council-manager form of government to a mayor-council form.

“The mayor is elected at large by the citizens and should have more authority,” McClenny said. “Right now the buck stops with the city manager.”

Unlike Johnson, McClenny said he was not surprised by the council’s lack of action.

“When I went up there, I knew what was going to happen,” he said.

William Kannan was among the citizens who submitted proposed charter changes to the council. He too was not surprised by the outcome.

“They are doing theirs and theirs alone,” Kannan said.