Hobgood, City Council clash over Canton CID nomination
by Joshua Sharpe
June 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 2753 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Gene Hobgood
Mayor Gene Hobgood
CANTON — Mayor Gene Hobgood said Tuesday he is regrouping after the city council struck down his suggested appointment to the Canton Marketplace Community Improvement District board in a matter of minutes last week.

With almost no discussion, the council voted 4-1 during its work session Thursday against confirming Hobgood’s appointment of Councilman Bill Grant to the board overseeing the CID.

Grant would have replaced former Councilman John Beresford on the board that handles administrative matters for the district, made up of representatives from a few of the big-box stores in retail development and representatives from the city. The board’s chief duties include setting a millage rate, which the members pay on top of city taxes for infrastructure improvements.

Councilwoman Sandy McGrew cast the only vote for Grant — who abstained from the vote. Others say they voted “no” because the mayor sprung the issue on them and he seems to be playing favorites, always picking Grant for special assignments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious: Mr. Grant is on everything,” said Councilman Glen Cummins, who is acting city manager, adding it was nothing personal against Grant. “And it’s time to share things with other members of council.”

Grant is also on the fire services committee, city manager selection committee and the retreat planning committee, in addition to being mayor pro tem.

Hobgood says he was caught off-guard by the resistance, and he is planning to float another name to the council — maybe Grant’s again.

“I’d like to get some discussion going as to why they think he’s not qualified,” the mayor said, adding if it seems like Grant gets picked for all the appointments, “It may be because he’s willing to do those things and do them well. Also, we need to remember that (Councilman John Rust) was appointed to the (city manager) selection committee and refused to serve. It’s not like I haven’t tried these other people.”

Grant, McGrew and Rust came on to the council in January, after winning election with the support, albeit quiet, of Hobgood.

Hobgood may find more trouble from the council no matter who he chooses, as some members of the council say the mayor had only one shot at appointing the council’s representative on the board.

Both Cummins and Rust said Canton’s charter indicates if it votes down the mayor’s recommendation, then the council can make the appointment. Hobgood, though, said, “The appointment process is in state legislation, which trumps our charter.”

Like Cummins, Rust said he voted against Grant joining the board because anytime an appointment comes up, Hobgood calls Grant’s name.

“Every single committee that comes up, he’s on them,” Rust said. “I just think he has to realize there’s more to the city council than Bill Grant. It had nothing to him personally at all; it has to do with the mayor’s process of selecting Bill for everything. I love Bill Grant. He’s a great guy. He’s done tremendous things for the city of Canton.”

Rust also took issue with the way Hobgood went about presenting his appointment to the council, because he brought it up and asked for a vote during a work session, which Rust feels goes against the council’s policy of voting in work sessions.

“I had no idea we were going to do that,” he said. “I did not speak to anyone else on council. We had no idea what he was doing. He broke the rule of voting in a non-voting meeting. Give me a break.”

Hobgood said during the meeting time was of the essence. The board has a meeting Thursday.

Cummins also said he didn’t know the mayor was going to try to appoint Grant.

But Hobgood said he was bothered the council had almost no discussion and no one explained their dissent.

“Not one of them came to me and said ‘Look, why don’t you appoint so and so?’” he said. “I thought they did (know). Maybe they didn’t. I didn’t try to keep it a secret or anything.”

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