Mayor Sam Jones’ time in office is drawing to a close, and in the last few weeks he has left on the 10th floor of Government Plaza, he is attempting to fill four positions on a board that carries a lot of power.
On the Oct. 9 council agenda, Jones sponsored ordinances to appoint four people — Carol Franklin, Thomas Tyrrell, LeBarron McClendon and Thomas Oldweiler — to the Industrial Development Board.
The board has the legislative authority to acquire, own, lease and dispose of properties in areas in which corporations may develop industry, according to its legal description. Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s IDB provides members to a joint city/county industrial park board that handles such property issues.
The board is also legally empowered to offer tax incentives to businesses and issue bonds. Its members are not paid.
“Our IDB serves as the granting authority for statutory tax incentives. They review projects based on a cost benefit analysis and judiciously make decisions based on each projects merits of job creation, capital investment and salary,” Wayman explained.
While the mayor is responsible for making recommendations to the board and the City Council must approve them, the Mobile Chamber of Commerce oversees its administrative needs. Both Wayman and Cesny Soffronoff serve in that capacity.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Assistant Shelly Mattingly said the appointments are not on any schedule and members can be put on and off at the mayor’s discretion.
“The terms are normally six years for board members, but it’s really up to the mayor,” Mattingly said.
Jones is seeking six-year terms for all four members.
The board can have up to 13 members. According to a roster provided by the Chamber of Commerce, there are currently nine voting members.
They are Dr. Kenneth C. Brewington, Richard Davis, Robert A. Guthans Jr., Adam Metcalfe, Lee Moncrief, Lowell Friedman, John Lewis Jr., Council Powell and Celia Wallace.
How long there have been openings on the board is not clear.
Of the four people who may be approved by the City Council, Thomas Tyrrell was appointed to the MAWSS board by Councilwoman Gina Gregory’s recommendation in 2011. Thomas Oldweiler served on Jones’ transition team when he was first elected as Mobile mayor in 2005.
Whether Jones’ efforts to appoint new members to this board just before leaving office is a point of contention for mayor-elect Sandy Stimpson is hard to tell. His chief of staff Colby Cooper simply said they hope any appointments would mesh with Stimpson’s priorities.
“During this transition period, Mayor-elect Stimpson is hopeful that any action taken by the current administration begins to align with his vision of One Mobile and becoming the safest, most business and family-friendly city in America by 2020,” Cooper said.
Attempts to reach Jones about his appointments were unsuccessful before press time.
Updated at 10:37 a.m. Oct. 5 to include Troy Wayman’s remarks and to correct information concerning the names and number of members on the board.
Updated at 1:31 p.m. Oct. 5 to include statement by Stimpson Chief of Staff Colby Cooper.