publication date: Feb 14, 2009
author/source: The Beacon
Milton’s Mayor Joe Lockwood is startng to see results in his city after more than two years.It took him a full two years, a revolving door of city managers, a painful and embarrassing airing of his council’s ineptitude in the press and a Las Vegas style roll of the electoral dice, but Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood has finally cobbled together a solid working majority of council members in his recently minted city. We’ll call it the force of five. And the mayor deserves much of the credit for its assemblage.
His city is now making cogent and levelheaded progress towards solving its challenges – whether it be coming into compliance with Fulton County’s prior sewer enablement agreements or providing legitimate developers with a fair hearing in their zoning applications. His decision to shut the revolving door on city managers by permanently putting public safety chief Chris Lagerbloom in charge was astute and timely. Milton government needs stability – and sanity. Lockwood has deftly navigated his way to both. Given the cast of characters on his city council – past and present – this was no short order. The City of Milton may finally be poised for proficiency as a result.
Lockwood’s council coadunation includes members Bill Lusk, Karen Thurman, Tina D’Aversa and Burt Hewitt. This leaves more radical council members Julie Zahner-Bailey and Alan Tart isolated and standing alone on the fringes. The key shifts since the 2007 election have been D’Aversa and Hewitt. Both backed Zahner-Bailey in her successful re-election bid and in fact Hewitt may have been elected on the sole strength of Zahner-Bailey’s support for him.
Their evolvement to Lockwood’s governing center – and gradual estrangement with Zahner-Bailey’s uncompromising and wholly business antagonistic positions – may be linked to the fact that both have either owned or managed businesses. They get it.
This development is no doubt frustrating Zahner-Bailey to no end. Once the key cog in any Milton policy debate, she is now relegated to minority status, bordering on irrelevancy. At a recent Milton council meeting she questioned one city staff member a full 90 consecutive minutes about obscure minutia in the wording of a city zoning ordinance recommendation. In the end she changed a few words that had no impact on the intent of the ordinance, things like “shall” instead of “will.” We can only speculate, but antics like this smacks of the actions of someone desperate for a seat at a table she no longer heads.
Either way, Lockwood, through an adroit combination of patience and persistence has now forged a ruling government coalition in Milton that is attempting to make decisions in a much more thoughtful, deliberate and logical way. He’s even got his one time political nemesis, powerful Ga. House Majority Whip and Milton resident Jan Jones on his side. That is saying something.