Atlanta Council Chairs Announced, Dickens to End Comment Limits at CD/HR (UPDATE 1)
UPDATE 1: And Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) as Chair of Transportation [accidentally omitted from the article as first published].
(APN) ATLANTA — Yesterday, January 07, 2014, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell announced a new slate of Committee Chairs, including more changes since Mitchell announced his first slate of Chairs in 2010.
Most significantly, Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) was stripped of her Committee Chair position on Community Development/Human Resources (CD/HR) Committee, where she implemented a controversial and adversarial five minute time limit for public comment.
The policy led to lengthy debates among the Committee Members, and between Committee Members and citizens, and to Sheperd having called security on Atlanta citizens numerous times in her efforts to silence the public.
Despite these problems, Mitchell had repeatedly allowed Sheperd to continue to Chair the extremely important Committee. According to sources familiar with the matter, Mitchell had wanted to give the Committee Chair position to someone else in previous years, but Sheperd resorted to crying and throwing tantrums in order to keep the post.
Sheperd did not receive any Committee Chair position this year.
Starting in 2014, Council newcomer Andre Dickens will be chairing CD/HR.
In a phone interview with Atlanta Progressive News, Dickens committed to keeping his campaign promise to not support time limits.
Because Sheperd’s term will be ending, the rule–that she used her discretion as chair to set–will expire. Dickens has promised not to set a new time limit, although he has reserved the right to change his mind if necessary.
Natalyn Archibong (District 5) has received her seat back as Chair of City Utilities Committee. Archibong served as Chair of City Utilities from 2000 to 2012, and was replaced by Howard Shook (District 7) for 2013.
Shook had been the second Committee Chair to set a public speaking time limit for a committee, which had been a three minute limit. That limit will now also expire and will not be reinstated, as Archibong is firmly against time limitations on the public.
The only Committee at this point that will likely have a time limit is Finance/Executive Committee, which will now be chaired by Alex Wan (District 6). Wan lives to silence the public, so the only question is at this point how oppressive and draconian his policy will be.
Yolanda Adrean (District 8) will serve as Chair of Zoning Committee, most recently chaired by Keisha Lance Bottoms (District 11). Adrean served as Chair of Finance/Executive Committee from 2010 to 2011, and Committee on Council from 2012 to 2013.
C.T. Martin (District 10) will serve as Chair of Public Safety/Legal Administration Committee, most recently chaired by Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large). Martin served as Chair of Transportation Committee from 2010 to 2013.
Councilman Bond no longer has a Chair position.
Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large)–who won back her old seat and is returning to Council–will serve as Chair of Committee on Council, most recently chaired by Moore.
Generally, Mitchell has selected some of the more progressive Members of Council to serve as Chairs. Archibong, Moore, Martin, and Adrean, for example, are among the six most progressive Members of Council, according to the APN Atlanta City Councilmember Scorecard. Wan is a middle-range Councilperson. Dickens and Norwood do not currently have scores on the Scorecard. [Norwood will start the year with a score based on a few votes pre-dating 2010.]
However, progressiveness does not appear to be Mitchell’s only consideration. He also appears to be trying to contain the public profiles of possible 2017 Mayoral contenders such as Kwanza Hall (District 2), Bond, and Bottoms. None have Chair positions this year, and Mitchell has never given Hall a Committee Chair position to date.