Mayor questioned on appointment of assistant

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Ward 2 Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Bates has questionedMayor Bill Godbold’s recent decision to appoint Traffic SupervisorJimmy Furlow as the mayor’s assistant.

“It’s an issue that needs to be voted upon,” Bates said inbringing up the subject during Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Godbold, however, said he was approached by a group of aldermenand asked to designate an assistant for him and in other citydepartments. Citing his working relationship with Furlow and otherfactors, the mayor said he decided to designate an assistant forhimself but not other departments.

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“That was satisfactory with the group that met with me,” Godboldsaid.

When asked later, Godbold did not identify members of thealdermen group that came to him. No alderman acknowledged being inthe group during the meeting.

In a memo to aldermen informing them of the situation, Godboldreferred to his health as a reason for needing Furlow’s assistance.The mayor last night said Furlow was simply doing “leg work” forhim.

Godbold then accused Bates of trying to put himself in themayor’s seat.

“Nobody wants you in this seat right here. Let me tell you thatstraight out,” Godbold told Bates.

Bates denied that assertion and said he would want to be mayoron his own merits.

“I’m here to work with you, and I feel like I’ve done that,”Bates said.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said Bates would serve as mayor in theevent Godbold became incapacitated. He downplayed Furlow’s newrole, who he has no authority other than to carry out Godbold’sorders.

“It’s not a position created to bypass anything,” Fernaldsaid.

Bates said he would prefer Furlow to remain as a supervisor andnot have a new title.

“Any alderman around this board ought to be able to help you runthis city,” Bates told the mayor.

Later, Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner said he supportedGodbold’s right to run the city, but he understood Bates’ concernsover possible changes in the chain of command. Godbold said thechange is temporary.

Bates mentioned a recent incident at the landfill in whichGodbold was upset because the alderman got involved in a situationthere while the mayor was sick.

Godbold said the board passed a resolution that employees werenot to come to aldermen with problems, but Bates said he startedthe conversation with the solid waste employee. The mayor saidthere had been more problems since the status of a landfillemployee, who was not named last night, was changed.

“The one we brought in to the city we can damn sure send back,”Godbold said.

The board never acted last night on the mayor’s decision to nameFurlow as his assistant. Fernald said the board could ratify themove if it wanted to, but indicated it was not necessary because nomoney was involved.

Furlow did not speak during the board discussion. He had nocomment after the meeting.

In other action Tuesday, aldermen delayed action on a requestfrom the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League to build a new animalfacility elsewhere on property that the Hartley-Gove ThermometerPlant leases from the city. After a city request at an earliermeeting, BARL board member Tom Ross presented a drawing of theproposed facility last night.

“We’re hoping that we can get started on this as soon aspossible,” Ross said.

Water Department Superintendent Lanny Dickey said the city wouldneed to look at sewer line flow issues associated with the newlocation, and it would cost about $1,500 to run a water line to thenew facility. He expected to have the needed information at thenext board meeting.

Also last night, aldermen approved plans to purchase new chairsfor the board meeting table. The chairs are similar to onecurrently used by Godbold during the meetings.

The $309 per chair cost was the lower of two estimates received,and eight chairs will be purchased. It has been a number of yearssince chairs were bought, and aldermen last night joked about waysthey have to sit in the current ones, which are are in the bestcondition.

Following a request from Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill,Brookhaven Fire Chief Paul Cartwright will speak with Civil DefenseDirector Clifford Galey about estimated cost for new weatherwarning sirens. Massengill said he had received comments fromcitizens about difficulty in hearing the current siren, which islocated on Willard Street near the No. 2 city fire station, whenbad weather approaches.

“As you get farther out, it’s harder to hear,” Massengillsaid.