General authorization for building a model block of Second Street between Cherry and Poplar streets, and the long-touted connector between Second and Little Richard Penniman Boulevard, passed Macon City Council 13-1 Tuesday night.
Council President James Timley was the only no vote, and Councilman Charles Jones was absent.
But the next step in Mayor Robert Reicherts plan to make Second Street a walkable, business-lined corridor connecting major economic features didnt pass without controversy. Councilmen Henry Ficklin and Frank Tompkins sought to add official notice of some work to be done between the hump bridge on Second Street and Eisenhower Parkway, a stretch not part of the main plan. That was finally done, through Councilman Tom Ellingtons suggestion of attaching a recent description of the project; but not before Ficklin and Timley argued over what Ficklin was allowed to say and when he could say it.
Then Councilwoman Elaine Lucas chimed in to criticize Timley, and Timley threatened to have her thrown out if she spoke again without his permission.
No youre not, either, she replied.
Timley didnt have her removed, and the measure passed, amended to ensure that council maintains oversight of individual contracts for the work.
Local voters approved putting $8 million into the Second Street project from the special purpose local option sales tax passed in November 2011.
A request from Ellington for the city to come up with a comprehensive plan for dealing with blighted areas passed 14-0.
Ellington said he has no illusions that change will be swift; the incoming consolidated government will have much to deal with, but the city needs to be proactive in taking stock now, so the new government can allocate what resources it has.
The plan needs to go well beyond faster demolition of abandoned buildings to include redevelopment plans and possibly returning some parts of the city to green space, he said.
Councilman Henry Gibsons ordinance seeking to put civilians on Macon police disciplinary review boards passed 14-0. It also requires Internal Affairs directors to be replaced every six months instead of every three years, and would automatically send Internal Affairs complaints to a review board instead of waiting for specific appeals.
A last-minute amendment from Gibson added that in the case of a police-involved shooting, the chief will immediately ask the GBI to step in.
In a related resolution, also by Gibson, council voted 14-0 to call for equipping all front-line Macon police with Tasers.
Officers would get them anyway after city police become Bibb County sheriffs deputies in January 2014, but Macon police could answer another 150,000 calls before then, Gibson said.
We still have nine months, he said. Possible prevention of another shooting before then is worth the effort, Gibson said.
Macon police have already ordered 60 Tasers this fiscal year, but Gibsons resolution would probably require doubling or tripling that number.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.