The Mayor paid me a visit last week after I wrote my column about the coming traffic light at the intersection of Miller and Coffee streets. I ended the column by saying the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) would not pay the $150,000-plus cost of the traffic light. I was wrong.
While GDOT, from 2001 to 2018 deemed a traffic light unwarranted at the intersection, in late 2018 they changed their mind and agreed to pay up to $150,000 toward the project. That decision was never announced to the public so I was unaware of it. The Mayor brought me a copy of the $150,000 check GDOT send to the city so, I stand corrected.
However, that revelation does not negate the rest of my column: a traffic light is still not a safety device, but a traffic-control device; I still fear that some child will trust the “walk/don’t walk” signs and walk into the intersection without looking; studies have shown that traffic control devices tend to make streets less safe, not more safe; traffic lights don’t do a lot for speeding and side street speeds actually increase; and, perhaps most importantly, studies reveal that when traffic signals are introduced as a result of political pressure, crashes rose by 65 percent.
On another matter — I went to last week’s political forum for the November City of Hazlehurst election. I was disappointed. I have long advocated from this space that, if Hazlehurst is going to be a progressive city in the twenty-first century, hiring a qualified, trained, capable city manager is a must. I get newspapers every week from all over the state and every progressive, growing community in Georgia has a city manager form of government.
At the political forum, the question was asked about the mayoral candidates’ feelings about the need for a city manager. The mayor said we already have a city manager — him. And his opponent said Hazlehurst does not need a city manager.
I disagree with them both.
The Hazlehurst City Charter specifically says that an no elected city official “shall hold any other …. appointive office in the city….” and “no appointed officer of the city shall continue in such employment upon qualifying as a candidate for …. election to any public office.”
Anyone found to have violated those requirements “shall be guilty of malfeasance in office” and must forfeit their office.
According to the charter, a city manager is an appointed office and the Mayor is ineligible to serve in that capacity. Of course, the council never appointed the mayor to the position of city manager. He just assumed it. So I guess the point is moot.