Bringing back Clayton County manager ill-conceived

Commissioner Edmondson should reconsider

When the county manager position in Clayton County government was eliminated just nine months ago, it appeared the bold move had strong community support behind it.

It was touted as a measure to streamline local government and strengthen the role of elected officials.

When government is administered more by elected representatives and less by hired professionals, the governance is closer to the people and that is always a good thing.

As we have said repeatedly, and will repeat again and again in the future, government belongs to the governed and not the governing, and most certainly not to bureaucrats.

Whether it is city or county government, putting too much power in the hands of hired professionals moves government one step further away from citizens.

Of course, eliminating one powerful position of authority merely to create other positions really does not accomplish a lot.

After a while, it begins to look like a bit of a shell game.

So why now revisit the notion of the county manager position?

If it was the right move to eliminate the position back in January, then the current proposal seems like it would be one step forward followed by 37 steps backward.

Why vote to eliminate the position at the beginning of the year and support legislation to recreate it at the end of the year?

It makes it appear as if the intention was merely to get rid of former County Manager Wade Starr.

If that is all it was about, then it was a short-sighted, misguided, ill-conceived, premature piece of business back in January.

We have commended Commissioner Michael Edmondson in the past.

We appreciate his efforts to keep an eye on spending and often scouring budget amendments and being the lone voice to question large expenditures.

That kind of leadership, even during the previous administration when he knew that he would be on the short end of any vote, was courageous and an obvious attempt to put the interests of the people of Clayton County above the interests of government itself.

So, we have to ask the commissioner why this, why now?

When city mayors showed up to voice their concerns and displeasure with the proposal last week, it represented the kind of proactive, bold leadership that our county so desperately needs.

The fact they did it out in the open instead of networking behind closed doors and in backrooms constitutes the kind of transparency that bodes well for our county and cities.

We commend Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day, Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, Lovejoy Mayor Bobby Cartwright and Morrow Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke for showing up, standing up and manning up to take a strong public position.

These mayors are looking for some stability in county government under Chairman Jeff Turner.

If this piece of legislation gets legs, it would be the third time in the last five years that Clayton County has seen a change in its form of government.

It’s time for the game of musical chairs to end.

We agree with Mayor Cartwright who argued that once again shifting the form of government would disrupt progress that has been made in the county since Turner became chairman in January, including a closer relationship between the county government and its cities.

We also find ourselves in agreement with resident Jim Carter who suggested the county already has “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”

Of course, we agree with citizens who gave the mayors boisterous applause last week when they spoke against the proposal. After all, the government belongs to those citizens.

We encourage Edmondson to listen to the cities, listen to the people and to pull the proposal — for good.

— Editor Jim Zachary