Mobile City Council Vice President Levon Manzie began creating standing committees despite a months-long standoff over who the next president should be.
Citing issues with the city’s capital improvement program, Manzie appointed Councilman C.J. Small as chairman of a committee to study it. He also appointed councilmen John Williams and Fred Richardson as members of the standing committee.
This marks the first time in the now six-month impasse Manzie has named a standing committee. He had previously appointed temporary, ad hoc committees to deal with issues. Manzie believes he has the authority to do so as the de facto chair of the council.
“It’s an integral function of the council,” he said. “A standing committee allows for subject-matter experts to study particular issues.”
Manzie said several councilors have asked him to make committee appointments and he plans to make more, as they are warranted.
Williams, a former rules committee chairman, said he believes Manzie, as vice president, lacks the authority to appoint members to committees.
“He has the power of the chairman, which is to call meetings, announce speakers and adjourn meetings,” Williams said.
That disagreement aside, Williams said Manzie has provided “fantastic leadership” for the council.
“I’ve been more than pleased with what he’s done,” he said.
Tim Hollis, a former candidate for the District 1 council seat, urged councilors to pick a president and break the impasse. Hollis called the inability to elect a president an “embarrassment” for the council as residents and other cities view the antics. Hollis said the actions are contrary to how the council sees itself.
“This does not look like One Mobile,” Hollis said, borrowing a campaign line from Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “Please do everyone a favor and walk it like you talk it.”
For his part, Williams said he favors electing a president and believes five of seven members could be eligible, given previous votes. He doesn’t feel there would be enough support for either Richardson or Councilwoman Gina Gregory at this point. The two previous candidates for president received four votes and three votes, respectively. Council attorney Wanda Cochran has said the public vote for president requires a supermajority, or five of seven votes, in accordance with the Zoghby Act.
“I’m in favor of anyone we can find,” Williams said. With his acknowledgement, though, Williams said he believes the impasse is not impacting the council’s ability to handle city business.
In other business, the council approved a $25,000 grant from the National Basketball Players’ Association to begin construction of a basketball court at Figures Park. The council also approved a $42,000 contract with Dell Consulting for HVAC replacement at the Mobile, Alabama Cruise Terminal.