Monday, June 04, 2007

Governor Signs Bill to Scale Back Power of Milton Mayor

By DOUG NURSE The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 06/03/07

The powers of Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood were pruned with the stroke of Gov. Sonny Perdue's pen on Wednesday. The governor signed bills that changed the city charter in a move opposed by the mayor but backed by the majority of the council.

The changes were OK'd by the Georgia Legislature at the request of state Rep. Jan Jones, a Republican who represents Milton and supported another candidate for mayor. The new legislation set term limits and offered symbolic criticism of the city's power to impose franchise fees, a form of taxation.

It also reduced the mayor's authority to name committees, and that's what particularly galled Lockwood. He asked Perdue in a letter to veto the legislation, which he believes limits his power and could "inject politics" into the running of the city.

Lockwood was overruled when four of the other six council members passed a resolution urging the governor to sign the changes."I don't blame the governor," said Lockwood. "He probably doesn't know all the details and the controversy."

Jones passed four bills amending the city's charter, including House Bill 811, which limits the mayor and council members to two terms. Otherwise the changes to the charter are minor, Jones contends.

But Lockwood doesn't see them as minor. He's especially concerned about new limits on his ability to make appointments.

"If someone had an agenda, the council could block everything the mayor brought up," he said.
Jones, who authored the legislation creating the city in 2006, has said the changes were simply a fine-tuning of the city's charter. She could not be reached for comment.

Lockwood said he was not kept in the loop on some details in the final bills, but Jones has said she talked to Lockwood about the changes before they were passed. She said she was "surprised and puzzled" by Lockwood's reaction.

Some changes in the charter don't really affect the city, particularly as they pertain to franchise fees, Jones said in an earlier interview. State law allows the city to collect franchise fees, but the bill simply removed such references from the city charter.
The fees have drawn criticism in Milton. Some contend the new franchise fees are just another form of tax. Jones said she removed the franchise fees provisions to send a message that she didn't approve of them.

City Council member Karen Thurman, who backed the changes, said she would have been surprised if Perdue had not signed the bills.


Anonymous said...

Dear Jan:

I know you must be busy making changes to the Johns Creek Charter, but I had to let you know something...

You have proven hypocrisy at it's best. You pushed for incorporation via the "local control" claim. Yet, now that all is said and done, the only control you want are folks that are willing to do your bidding and are within a certain circle. Funny. This elitist attitude is what you used to justify our pulling away from Fulton County. Now that you have your puppets of four, it appears as though we have the exact same
problem. I will never vote for you again.

Anonymous said...

We need a new Mother of Milton!!! Jan Jones is just another Politician with a capital P.