‘Payback time’ sparks heated charges at F’ville Council

For a local government like Peachtree City it would have been little more than a ripple in the pond. But for the usually orderly Fayetteville City Council a portion of the June 7 meeting was more like a large wave splashing over an otherwise calm shore line.

The fracas dealt with a resolution from Mayor Greg Clifton and responses by council members Larry Dell and Walt White over what they said was a lack of notification of its inclusion on the agenda. But a subsequent check on the procedure used for placing items on the agenda showed that Clifton had followed procedure in placing the item on the agenda.

The resolution proposed by Clifton was one “supporting those opposing the federal government’s unconstitutional encroachment of the free exercise of religion.”

Clifton stated up front that the item would be tabled for two weeks in deference to Dell, with Clifton noting that he and Councilman Paul Oddo felt strongly about the resolution. Clifton said the purpose behind the resolution was not to take a religious position on abortion, but to adhere to the Constitution and hold the federal government to the same standard. Though not directly linked to it, the resolution comes on the heels of litigation by more than 40 Catholic dioceses across the U.S. suing the Obama administration in its mandate that employers provide birth control coverage.

Referencing the Pledge of Allegiance made before each council meeting, Clifton said this republic is in bad shape in many ways. Clifton said he was opposed to the federal government making requirements on businesses and other entities in their insurance plans.

“I don’t have a problem with (the resolution),” Councilman White said in response. “The problem I have is that you didn’t notify us. I think you need to include the council before you start putting this on (the agenda).”

And that was when the discussion began to go south, with Clifton stating that for many years, “You did not provide the same courtesy to Mr. Oddo.”

With the ball rolling, several on the council began talking over each other.

“Excuse me, sir,” said Dell. “I’m not opposed to the resolution and I’m not opposed to what the resolution says. What I’m opposed to is the way it was handled and I ask you to give me time to look over it. If you’re going to be exclusive in your tenure, as you say we were, then so be it. The comment you just made, if you’re going to say that and we’re going to be exclusionary then we don’t have much of a council running the affairs of this city. So either we are included or we go about our separate ways. And I don’t think that’s an appropriate statement to make.”

“I have done as much inclusion as I intend to do and incorporate you guys into such things,” Clifton responded. “We do have the majority over here in most of the things we bring forward and push through with your input. I don’t necessarily intend to do that but I did intend to give you guys a little taste of the way Mr. Oddo has been treated.”

It was at this point in the relatively brief exchange that things deteriorated even further.

“Excuse me. Mr. Mayor, you didn’t attend a single council meeting until you were elected,” said Dell. “Now you’re telling me, based on what somebody else tells you, not on your observation, that this is fact. This is not fact.”

Dell went on to say that he sat down with Oddo after he was elected in an effort to work with him.

“Some discussions and innuendo came later on, therefore I chose not to discuss my feelings with Mr. Oddo,” said Dell. “But that has nothing to do with this council or what we do as a government entity.”

At that point White spoke up again saying, “The past mayor filled him in on everything that was filled in with us and if he says different he’s lying.”

It was then that Oddo made his first and only comment during the exchange.

“Well, that’s not the way it happened,” Oddo said in his only comment during the exchange.

Several on the council then began briefly speaking over each other until Clifton appeared to be making an attempt to wrap-up the agenda item. That said, the attempt included a comment that could have easily generated another verbal barrage from both sides.

Clifton said that, henceforth, he would include the council on issues subject to discussions and resolutions, adding that, “But I do feel that Mr. Oddo was not included in all the things in the past. I just thought it was fine to give you a taste of it.”

“This is hearsay, sir,” Dell said in response, followed by White saying, “This is a mayor the city ought to be proud of.”

Then Clifton rounded out the exchange.

“I don’t want this to turn into a Peachtree City Council,” Clifton said. “I want this to be a council that gets along.”

That completed the agenda’s final item. But what of the placement of the resolution on the agenda? And what is the process for having items placed on meeting agendas?

Oddo after the meeting said that when he first took office he was told that a council member could have an item put on the agenda if at least three council members agreed to do so.

A check with City Manager Joe Morton after the meeting confirmed the city’s procedure for establishing a meeting agenda. Beyond the large majority of items that come from city staff, the rules state that the mayor can put items on the agenda. Those items do not require consultation from the council. Pertaining to council members, they can place items on the agenda as long as three of them agree.

The resolution was posted in full on the city’s website approximately one week prior to the meeting.

Though not stated by anyone at the meeting, it has been obvious to many who keep up with Fayetteville politics that there has been an undercurrent brewing since before the election last November that saw long-time Mayor Ken Steele defeated by Clifton.

Spyglass's picture
Joined: 01/28/2008
Well, at least Fayetteville is watching Captain Kangaroo...

or so it seems.

Shoebox's picture
Joined: 12/09/2006
I voted for Clifton...

WHAT WAS I THINKING??????? Just another dishonest, manipulative man!

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Nice work Fayetteville! Race to the bottom!

I find it ironic that they don't want this to "turn into Peachtree City Council" and then go out of their way to do just that, especially over some totally asinine resolution that has absolutely nothing to do within the realm of the City of Fayetteville. I was happy Clifton beat Steele until I see he lacks real maturity and is yet another FC politician driven by extreme pettiness and "oooh..payback baby!" Geez. Grow up, already.

What makes Clifton's position and his leadership look so horrid is that he states he did the same thing to "them" as "they" did to Oddo, yet according to this article, everything as far as the agenda goes was A-OK, per Joe Morton. So.....if the "them" did the same in the past, that means that was also OK so how was Oddo wronged? OMG.......can anyone else with an IQ above 70 please run?

What's next? A resolution about whether the US should withdraw from Afghanistan tomorrow? Why not attempt to do the job you were elected to do in FAYETTEVILLE, nitwits. If u want to be real progressives and tackle the national issues, San Francisco and a few other cities are big on that in their elected councilmembers.

Tiger Dad
Tiger Dad's picture
Joined: 10/11/2007
Way to go Mayor Cliftton!

It's about time somebody stood up to the last remaining council members riding on Ken Steele's coat tails. Steele was a jerk to anyone that questioned him, whether at a council meeting or on the street and I can speak from experience on both. Larry Dell and Walt White are finally in the minority and are getting a little payback. I applaud Mayor Clifton on giving them a little taste of their own medicine. Mr. Oddo is an honest man and wants what's right for the community. Greg Clifton and Paul Oddo have my full support!

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Yee-Haw! Give 'em hell Mayer Clefton!

Who cares about good governance when we got some scores to settle here ya'll! We gonna make them damn traitors pay the price fer not winnin.

This whole cluster reminds me of Obama right after winning stating to the Repubs and non-Obama voters: "elections have results...we won, you lost." That attitude has really worked wonders for this country hasn't it? Can't wait to see it applied at the local level too.

AtHomeGym's picture
Joined: 01/18/2007
Nuk & Yee Haw

Of course you're right--if I was a citizen of F'ville, I'd be ashamed that such antics were masquerading as city business in an official meeting.

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