Politics & Government

Political Notebook: More than one leader in WR, council says

Apparently, the mayor isn’t the only one calling the shots in Warner Robins.

Or, at least, that’s what several City Council members may be saying.

Before the council moved to eliminate Perkins Field and the old FoodMax locations as possible sites for the city’s new police complex, Councilman Paul Shealy pitched to the group a suggestion of building on Prince Street.

It’s not a new idea, since a consulting firm made that suggestion about three years ago, but Shealy said the building could be built in two phases.

The first phase would use the $5 million the city has available for the project and would ready about 25,000 square feet of the building’s total 46,000 square feet space for use.

Councilman Daron Lee didn’t understand how the change of heart came about. Or he felt someone else was running the show.

“Now we do have an option besides Perkins Field,” Shealy said.

“So we didn’t have this option before?” Lee asked.

“Because of what I was following in government law,” Shealy began.

“Because of what you were following,” Lee continued, “or who you were following?”

Several minutes later, it was Councilman Mike Daley flipping through a white binder reading from the city’s comprehensive plan and mentioning wording in a not-yet-approved downtown redevelopment plan calling for the police department to be built along Watson Boulevard from Davis Drive to Robins Air Force Base, making that area a “hub of government and cultural activity.”

He then called on Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency head Gary Lee to better detail the plans.Again, Lee shot to action.

“You got somebody to gather some information for you,” he spouted after Daley finished talking.

Councilman John Williams, upset with the 4-2 vote against the FoodMax in which Councilman Thomas Simms Jr., who’d proposed the idea of renovating the old grocery store, voted against it, shared his disappointment in the council meeting.

He took it a step further when he detailed in a letter to another local newspaper his work over the past month to get the particulars handled for the project.

With it was a drawing he’d done, depicting Simms as a puppet. Someone got to Simms, Williams said, to get him to change his mind.

Political success not marital bliss

Monroe County’s Democrats decided to let the office of Probate Court Judge Karen Pitman run the qualifying process for them.

The leader of the local Republicans, Kim Stokes, thought he’d do it himself. Then he scheduled an out-of-town business trip. Then another. That left most of the work in the hands of his wife, Telsa.

Telsa Stokes qualified six political candidates. Kim Stokes, none. She expects a substantial shopping trip. We say she has more than earned it.

Staton movin’ on up

State Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, is moving up in the Georgia Senate, winning a prized position in the chamber’s Republican caucus Thursday.

The majority caucus elected Staton as its new vice chairman as the 2010 legislative session came to a close. It’s kind of a back-up administrative position for Senate Republicans. They named state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, as chairman.

State Sen. Greg Goggans, R-Douglas, is the new secretary/treasurer and state Sen. John Wiles, R-Kennesaw, is the new whip. Wiles replaces state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, who broke with his party’s leadership over a tax vote earlier this year.

Though every senator’s vote is his or her own, the caucus and its leadership hold a lot of sway over members, pushing them one way or another on major votes. As vice chairman, Staton will help develop the caucus agenda.

Taxing responsibilities

Bibb County taxpayers are getting their final tax bills, along with four pages of letters that seem to say, “I didn’t do it.” The bills address shortfalls from last fall’s temporary billing as well as two tax increases.Bibb County Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders notes he has “no control over the re-evaluation process or setting the millage rate.”

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert blames a tax increase on falling revenues, double taxation and higher health-care and fuel costs. The Bibb County Board of Education blames deeper state cuts for a 1-mill increase.

The Bibb County Commission notes it didn’t go up on taxes and kept a 2-mill tax refund of sales taxes in place. Commissioners expect to go up that 2 mills in the coming months, which constituents probably will see as a tax increase, rather than the end of a temporary decrease.

Telegraph staff writers Marlon A. Walker, Travis Fain and Mike Stucka contributed to this report.