WARNER ROBINS — City Council, in its role as the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency board of directors, swiftly voted out Mayor Chuck Shaheen as chairman in favor of Mike Daley after changes to the agency’s bylaws allowed other board members to hold the position.
Discussion to make Daley chairman apparently was done in secret, with other members of the board unaware of the move until a motion was put on the floor by Bob Wilbanks.
It passed with four votes. Tom Simms Jr. voted against the measure and John Williams abstained from the vote.
When the RDA was put together in 2007, its bylaws specified that the chairman of the group would be the city’s mayor. The board would consist of the members of the council.
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Wilbanks announced the resolution changing the bylaws as a way to allow others to do the work, which led to a heated exchange with Shaheen.
“What’s the reason behind this?” Shaheen asked.
“The mayor is a good person, and this is a very good job. But we have other people fully capable of doing the job,” Wilbanks said.
“Is this in response to the article in the newspaper where Mr. (Gary) Lee said he didn’t get enough support from the council?” Shaheen asked.
“I don’t think it’s in response to anything,” Wilbanks said. “It’s a sound decision.”
“That’s not what you said last week,” Shaheen said.
The article Shaheen referred to appeared in The Telegraph on May 9. In it, RDA Executive Director Gary Lee said he felt the board should be revamped to remove the mayor and council from the board in favor of business people who better understand what the board can do to enhance city development.
“You don’t ever get anything accomplished because, see, instead of the development authority doing what it’s supposed to do, you have elected officials trying to use the development authority as an election vehicle,” Lee told The Telegraph for the May 9 story. “So what it does, it hinders me from doing my job.”
Councilman Daron Lee, a member of the board and brother of Gary Lee, said he could see the need for the changes to the bylaws as the beginning of much-needed changes to ensure a more capable board for the RDA.
“I think the RDA would be in a better position to operate and build relationships,” Daron Lee said of the changes. “I don’t see any further harm that it will do. If you want to operate a business, you’ve got to take come chances. I think it’s a good direction to move forward. And I’m going to take the chance — until proven otherwise. The other RDA boards aren’t set up this way,”
“You’re dealing with a lot of money,” Shaheen said of the role as chairman of the board.
“Just because you’re an elected official doesn’t mean you have the know-how to operate,” Daron Lee said. “Sometimes we have to release our pride.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9725.