Suwannee Democrat

Letter to the editor

February 15, 2012

Suwannee Democrat letter to the editor - Feb. 15, 2012

Live Oak — Dear Editor,

As a member of the Charter Review committee I would like to respond to Mayor Nobles allegations.

Let me preface this by saying Mr. Nobles is a good man and Mayor Nobles has served this community above and beyond the call of duty. He has obtained grants, been a presence in Tallahassee and an Ambassador for our City. Unfortunately he has grown threatened by an advancing local government and is totally off base in his concept of separation of powers as they refer to the city.

For  Mr.Nobles to constantly say he is a victim of some conspiracy is ludicrous. He is inferring that Councilmen Rewis,Thomas, Prins, Yulee and Burch hand picked five people out to get Mr. Nobles. If he truly believes that, his fury should be taken out on the council not the Charter Committee. The tapes are open to the public, two members Chairman Mr. McCullers and Mr. Hale who worked with Mr. Nobles for 30 plus years, on numerous occasions mentioned the good things Sonny did. This is not about Sonny, it is about the position of Mayor.

As things exist today, the Mayor could override anything anyone does at City Hall. The City Administrator could be carrying out the orders of the City Council and the mayor could tell the city administrator to do the opposite. As it exists today, five members of the city council could want a different attorney and the mayor could refuse it. If the mayor did not want to call a special meeting, no special meeting would be called. If a vacancy exists on the city council only the mayor can recommend a replacement. The mayor must approve the appointment of any employee. The mayor may suspend anyone. The Mayor, not Sonny Nobles, currently has these powers which take things out of the Administrator's hands, who is paid $90,000 a year to run the city and change decisions made by the majority of a five man City Council. The conflict has come up between Mayor and Administrator, Administrator and City Council, and Council and Mayor.

An example would be when the Mayor sent city equipment to Gold Kist a few years ago. The council was not made aware of it, the administrator didn't order it and the mayor forgot he had done it. An example would be when the code enforcement officer was found at a liquor store in a city truck, in Lake City during working hours. The mayor suspended the employee which negated the city council's authority to fire him, due to double jeopardy. The Mayor also emphatically stated he was the only one who could fire the code enforcement officer.

Has Mr.Nobles blatantly abused his power as mayor? Absolutely not, has he gotten over zealous, absolutely yes. I believe Mr. Nobles decisions have been what he thought to be in the best interest of the city. Unfortunately, some of those unilateral decisions were not the best, and done without any regard to the city council wishes or the city administrator. We have been fortunate to have good men serving our community, whether they hold the position of mayor, or Mr. Mayor, whether they sit on the charter review committee. There is  no guarantee the next mayor will be as interested as Mr. Nobles. So, once again, I postulate this is not about Sonny Nobles, this is about the position of mayor, who still retains a veto.

As for Mr. Nobles "separation of powers", he is simply wrong. The City of Live Oak is a Municipal Corporation. Yes, the American Constitution has separate, but equal branches of government, called the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Unfortunately, for Mr. Nobles they do not exist in the city charter. Our system of checks and balances come from a five man council that needs three votes to pass legislation, not one mayor's decision. To imply that the mayor should have more power then the city council is simply wrong. To imply it is equal to five men is just as wrong. Mr. Nobles argument was also shut down by the city attorney, he currently gets to recommend.

Mr. Nobles told the committee he did not want to run the day to day operations of city. Having the power to supervise all aspects of city government, being able to suspend any employee, being the only one to call a special meeting, being the only one to approve the hiring of any employee, being the only one able to recommend people to fill vacancies, being the only one to approve the city attorney, doesn't leave much for the administrator or council.

I submit to you Mr. Nobles, what powers do you exactly want? The power to do what you want regardless of the Council and Administrator? What's wrong with making suggestions to the full time administrator or five man council, instead of usurping their authority for what you, one man wants? The administrator answers to the council the mayor doesn't.

There was absolutely no need to get personal and paranoid. Believe it or not ,there was not one person on the committee that didn't respect the job you have done. Thirty something years of public service does not give the right of entitlement, martyrdom, or despotism. It also should not allow someone to insult people who spent a great deal of their free time to do community service.

Tom Daniels

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