Like a father disciplining unruly sons, Robinson wagged his mayoral finger at his fellow “willy-nilly” city councilmen. He scolded them for voting to rescind a worthwhile business license ordinance that would help the city’s struggling budget. And he also emphatically refused to resign.
“Why would anyone want anyone to resign from this council?” Robinson said. “We might be an arguing council. We might be somewhat of a fighting council. But, by golly, we achieve stuff.”
Not really, Mr. Mayor.
The rescinding of the business license ordinance that councilmen approved last October is an example of this council’s problematic track record. But questionable policy decisions are only part of the equation.
The 15 months this mayor and council have been in office have been marred by missteps, none worse than the incessant and unbecoming bickering that exists among their different cliques. That stains all of Anniston, not just its council.
The relationship between some of these men seems so irreparably damaged that it’s difficult to imagine them collaborating positively on Anniston’s future.
It’s time for change. Not the mayor’s resignation, considering that the city’s Council-Manager Act doesn’t specify how a mayoral vacancy should be filled. Today, that’s turmoil the city doesn’t need.
Instead, it’s time Robinson and councilmen Ben Little, Herbert Palmore, John Spain and David Dawson give Anniston the management it craves. They tried to do that by updating the city’s business licensing, but their regrettable back-and-forth has only put the city in a deeper financial hole.
Anniston thirsts for elected leadership, and too often it receives too little of it. In that sense, it doesn’t matter if Robinson sits in the mayor’s chair or not. It’s about Anniston’s health, not a first-time politician’s tenure.
From a sagging budget to filling its many vacant storefronts to the plight of its low-income residents, Anniston is a city of needs. That’s why its office-holders must be leaders, not impediments to progress. Improvement is possible; the Eastern Parkway and McClellan development are but two examples. But it takes work and guidance.
We thank the mayor for providing Wednesday two hand-written pages of what he considers the council’s achievements in the last 15 months. Unfortunately, the accomplishments this council has managed are overshadowed by a frequent lack of decorum at council meetings and untimely examples of divisive ward politics. Such behavior smacks of leaders more interested in themselves than the people who elected them.
The city should not have to suffer through nearly three more years of escapades caused by councilmen’s bruised egos, brash statements and poor judgments.
Anniston deserves better than that. It’s up to some of these men to change — if they can. If not, the city may be no better in 2012 than it was when they took office.