The council, without the backing of Mayor Gene Robinson, has held inquiry sessions since late July, with City Attorney Cleo Thomas charging the going rate of $150 per hour for his inquiry-related services.
Thus far, here's what the inquiry has revealed:
Robinson has a hair-trigger temper, can be confrontational and brusque, has made a few people mad, and occasionally uses salty language that's unbecoming of his elected position.
We knew that.
The Courthouse Café, the downtown Anniston diner owned by Judge Joel Laird, is closed.
We knew that. (In fact, it's been closed since December 2009.)
Thousands of dollars of state and city taxes on Laird's diner have not been paid, and the judge has faced several liens because of those delinquencies.
We knew that.
Mid- and high-level staffers at Anniston City Hall are fond of writing e-mails and memos to conduct official business, even if the mayor or various councilmen aren't aware of — or in agreement with — the content of those e-mails or memos.
We could have predicted that.
Thus, the grand, over-hyped inquisition sanctioned by this council has determined that the mayor is indeed temperamental, that a sizeable amount of back taxes is owed by the owner of the Courthouse Café, and that important city business is hidden in the pages of the supposedly nefarious e-mails and memos.
For that, the city's paying a pretty penny in attorney fees. It's also expending a truckload of the council's and residents' time on a pointless probe that seems to have scant direction or goal — other than stroking the ego of councilmen who think this is necessary.
It's not. Robinson's boycotting the sessions. And a judge's order has quashed the subpoena orders for three witnesses, including Laird, saying the subpoenas were unenforceable.
This is what we've come to expect from this dysfunctional council.
Based on what they've uncovered thus far, these men didn't have to don investigator's hats to locate the truth. What they've found out is old news — about the mayor, about Laird's diner, and about working conditions at City Hall.
The best approach this council could take would be to pull the plug on this inquiry, save Annistonians the grief and call it what it is: A waste of time, money and resources.