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Resignations sought from city volunteers

May 11, 2005 - Newly elected Crestwood Mayor Roy Robinson is calling for the resignations of all members of the city's standing boards and committees.

Though Robinson has requested the resignations of volunteers serving on boards and committees, he told the Call, "That doesn't mean everybody's going to be re-placed.''

About 65 letters were sent last week to volunteers serving on the city's boards and committees, City Administrator Don Greer told the Call. Though the letters are dated April 27, most people didn't receive them until late last week because of a delay in mailing them.

The letters, signed by Greer, note that Robinson was sworn in as mayor on April 26 and state: "Mayor Roy Robinson has asked me to communicate his wishes to have the chair and members of each standing board and committee submit resignations to his office as soon as practical. The mayor indicates that members will continue to serve until such time as they are either reappointed or replaced.''

"I was instructed to send that out,'' Greer said.

But some volunteers have bristled at the letters and question Robinson's authority to seek their resignations. One volunteer, Da-vid Brophy, told the Call that he will not submit his resignation from the Charter Commission and says he views Robinson's request "as an assault on my integrity.''

Robinson said he believes "new blood'' is needed on some of the city's boards and commissions.

"All of these boards need new blood,'' he said, noting that some people serve on multiple panels. "We can't have the same people running every board.''

However, he did acknowledge that difficulty in finding volunteers might account for the reason some volunteers serve on more than one board.

Some members of the Board of Alder-men, including President Richard Breed-ing of Ward 1, were surprised to learn that the new mayor is seeking the resignations of volunteers serving on boards and committees.

"I can't believe it,'' Breeding told the Call. "It's hard enough to find volunteers these days.''

Breeding, who has served on the Board of Aldermen since 1998 and was acting mayor for several months last year, said he's never seen a new mayor request volunteers' resignations.

"I've never seen it before in all my years on the board,'' he said.

In his review of the membership of the boards and commissions, Robinson said he learned that in many cases, volunteers were continuing to serve even though their terms had expired. In one instance, he discovered one person serving on three different panels. By ordinance, however, that person was prohibited from serving on more than one panel, Robinson said. He de-clined to identify that person.

"Evidently, nobody read the ordinance,'' the mayor said.

Asked how many people had resigned, Robinson said, "I've got quite a few.''

As of Friday, he had received four or five resignations. Asked what would happen if a volunteer refused to resign, Robinson said, "I don't think they have any choice if their time is up.''

But Brophy, who now serves on the Charter Commission and previously served on the Sign Commission, said he has no intention of resigning.

Referring to his tenure on the Sign Com-mission, he said, "In none of my previous experience have I been asked to submit a letter of resignation by either Mayor (Pa-tricia) Killoren or Mayor (Jim) Brasfield when Mayor Brasfield took office. In fact, I was, at the proper time, simply reappointed, to the best of my recollection.''

The city's Charter Review Commission began meeting in mid-February and plans to conduct a public hearing next week.

The City Charter, approved by voters on Nov. 7, 1995, states, "From time to time, but not less than every 10 years, the mayor and Board of Aldermen shall provide for a Charter Review Committee to consider whether any amendments to this charter are appropriate.''

Under the charter, the commission has up to 12 months to complete its work and submit any proposed amendments it deems necessary to the Board of Aldermen. Voters would have to approve any charter changes. Commission members also could decide that no changes are needed.

Brophy said, "I would also like to point out that as a member of the Charter Com-mission that the charter provides the mayor the power to appoint members of the boards and commissions with the approval of the Board of Aldermen. It is not specified in the charter, however, that the mayor can ask for a resignation of a member. And I would assume that in the normal course of events only such would be asked for in a case of malfeasance or dereliction of duty or misperformance of the duties for which you have been appointed.''

"The fact of the matter is, is that I believe that this may well be an attempt to intimidate and influence the commission on which I am currently a member. This commission is dealing with matters relating directly to the office of the mayor on various issues and indeed throughout the city government various offices and when I accepted the appointment to the commission to do so, I did with the understanding and indeed I asked at the first meeting if our body was properly constituted under the law and was assured that it was,'' he continued.

"I asked that question specifically for two reasons. One, as to whether the recommendations of the commission could be legally challenged, but also whether I would be subjected to pressure in doing my job as a member of the commission. I feel very uncomfortable having my letter of resignation, if I submit it, being able to be used as a club over my head for political purposes.

"I view it as an assault on my integrity. The fact of the matter is, is that there are many volunteers of boards and commissions who have served faithfully the city of Crestwood for extended periods of time, some I believe for as long as 30 years. And to ask for their resignation without having specific cause, I find is offensive ... Res-idents of Crestwood should be able to serve their community without being subject to political whims and pressures of a mayor.

"From my point of view, he can fire me if he wants or remove me and so on and so forth, but I will not submit my resignation,'' Brophy said.

Asked if his actions might create some hard feelings or ill well, Robinson said, "I've got to do what I think is right.''

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