Mayor names assistant to help him with duties

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

Mayor Bill Godbold this week named Jimmy Furlow assistant to themayor in order to allow the city’s traffic supervisor to act as aliaison between aldermen, department heads and the mayor.

Godbold, who has been ill following recent mini-strokes,informed aldermen and department heads of the move in a memo sentout Thursday. Furlow has been helping the mayor, who is notsupposed to drive, in various capacities during the illness.

“I appreciate you letting me use him in this way,” the mayorsaid in the memo. “I ask that you allow me to appoint him asassistant to the mayor to perform duties that will come from myoffice.”

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City Attorney Joe Fernald said Furlow will not be acting in anyministerial fashion. He said Godbold is not incapacitated but doesrequire some assistance.

“The mayor is physically capable of dispensing his duties,”Fernald said.

Furlow agreed.

“All I’ve done is what he’s asked me to do,” Furlow said of themayor’s request.

Furlow said he understood he has no authority, nor did he wantany, in the new position.

“If there’s a problem, I’ll take it to him and he resolves it,”Furlow said.

State law states that the mayor pro tem, in this case Ward 2Alderman Terry Bates, is to assume mayoral duties in the event themayor is incapacitated. Fernald said that was not the situation nowand naming an assistant did not represent any delegation ofauthority.

“That would be improper and illegal, to bypass the mayor protem,” Fernald said.

Alice Wise, state special assistant attorney general, said theboard has the authority to hire someone to assist the mayor.

“The mayor has superintending control,” Wise said. “The boardcan hire someone to assist him in whatever capacity.”

In Brookhaven’s case, Wise indicated the board would need toapprove or ratify the action.

“It’s ultimately the board that prescribes the duties,” Wisesaid.

The board of aldermen has not acted on the mayor’s action.

A preliminary draft of Tuesday’s city board meeting agendaincluded the item, but it was not discussed. It was expected to bementioned during a special called board meeting Wednesday todiscuss a solid waste personnel matter, but there was no quorum forthat meeting.

Fernald said the matter is expected to be discussed at the nextregular city board meeting. That meeting is scheduled for May20.

The mayor’s memo said Furlow would be receiving a pay raise atthe end of the year. Fernald, though, said that was not unusualbecause aldermen consider pay raises for all employees at budgettime.

The assistant designation was described in the memo as atemporary chain of command. When contacted, Godbold did not say howlong the designation would be in effect and said all necessaryinformation was included in the memo.