Public needs to know decisions on trash talk

City officials talked trash last week. And Commissioner Jimmy Smith talked about coming out in his drawers.

It's time to put the garbage contracts out for bid, and commissioners are trying to decide whether to expand the area of service, reduce the number of pickup days to one or leave it at two, and whether to change the schedules for yard and bulk waste pickup.

Landfill Director Mark Johnson laid out all the options and asked commissioners which way they wanted to go.

Mainly, they want to know how much cutting back to one day will save on residents' annual garbage bills.

And some, such as Smith, are concerned about letting the public know when changes are coming.

"The last time we drove up in front of people's houses and dropped those containers down, I was in there taking a shower, and I looked under my carport. A bell was ringing and they were beating on the door. I went out there in my drawers with a shotgun. I'm just telling you we need to cover our bases before..."

Later, they talked about cutting costs by reducing the number of days haulers pick up yard waste.

One suggestion was to have a big spring and fall pickup, but Commissioner Jerry Brigham noted that wouldn't work because people don't do major cleanups on the same day.

GOOD LEGAL ADVICE: Commissioners plan to hire attorney Andrew MacKenzie as city attorney when they meet Tuesday.

MacKenzie has been acting city attorney since Chiquita Johnson was forced to resign.

The job was advertised internally, and MacKenzie was the only applicant.

He seems pretty capable so far, even though Commissioner Alvin Mason had to give him a good talking to Monday.

Commissioners were discussing two options for a local vendor preference ordinance.

Under Option 1, which is now in force on bids of $10,000 or less, if a local bidder's bid is within 5 percent of the low bidder's, the local vendor is given the option of matching the low bid, and if he chooses to do that, he gets the bid.

Under Option 2, proposed by Commissioner Don Grantham , if the local vendor's bid is within 5 percent of the low bidder's, he's automatically the winner.

MacKenzie opined, "You can do it the way Mr. Grantham has it, or you can leave it the way that it is, and we can make it work."

Commissioner J.R. Hatney wasn't quite satisfied.

"So being the attorney who's supposed to keep us out of harm's way -- I know you said you could make either one work, but do you have a suggested preference?" he asked.

"Certainly. I mean..." MacKenzie said before Hatney cut him off.

"If either one works, when we vote today we ought to vote on one or the other."

"Sure. Like I say, both of them I think we can make work. When I wear my legal hat, I try to make things a little smoother and less likely to have occurrences in which mistakes could be made," MacKenzie said, continuing on in lawyerly fashion to explain in detail what he had basically just said.

Then he said, "If you're asking me my legal opinion, there would probably be less risk associated with mistakes with Option 1 than Option 2."

At that point, Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said he wanted to clarify something with the legal counsel.

"We're asking you for your legal opinion," he said. "You're getting paid to have on that legal hat. And that's what we want to hear from you. I don't want to hear your personal opinion. Not that it's not relevant, but in this particular case, we only want to talk from a legal standpoint in this government in keeping us as straight as we can, out of hot water.

"So to clear any confusion in the future when those questions are pointed toward you, we are asking for your legal opinion. And I want to make sure we are clear on that."

"Absolutely," the young attorney said.

It was a long meeting day, so no wonder that at the end while talking about the new state transportation bill, City Administrator Fred Russell referred to Georgia DOT as "Georgia Detox."

THE MUSICAL M.D.: Medical$ College$ of Gold$ incoming president Dr. A. Zzzzz's promise to investigate a 53 percent increase in administrators' salaries over the past five years has some administrators on the verge of nervous breakdowns, as you will see in this next episode of ER .

(2 a.m.)

Nurse: Get up, Dr. Drowsy. We've got another administrator out there.

Dr. Drowsy: Holy Moley, it's only 2 a.m. and this is the third one tonight. What is it this time?

Nurse: Panic attack.

Dr. Drowsy: (Gets up, yawns and goes into the ER) What seems to be troubling you, Mr. Administrator?

Administrator: I'm having a panic attack, you fool! We've got a new president here, and he said he's going to investigate the pay raises the committee of Raises and Titles (RATS) has been handing out. I'm afraid I'm going to have a nervous breakdown just thinking about the possibility of a pay cut and having to give up my month's vacation on St. Barts.

Dr. Drowsy: I'm going to give you a shot of Valium and some good advice: "Don't worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble. But when you worry, you make it double. Don't worry. Be happy. Don't worry. Be happy."

(3 a.m.)

Nurse: Come on, Dr. Drowsy. We've got another administrator out there. This time it's back trouble. Says he can hardly move.

Dr. Drowsy: (Gets up and goes into the E.R.) Having a little back trouble, eh?

Administrator: I can hardly move, Doc. It started after I read that Dr. A. Zzzzz is going to start poking into our pay raises. All I can think about is whether I'll have to sell my cabin in Boone.

Dr. Drowsy: I'm going to have the nurse give you a shot of Valium, and I want you to do the Loco-motion every two hours until you get good and loosened up. Come on, I'll show you how. "There's never been a dance so easy to do. It even makes you happy when you're feeling blue. So come on, come on, do the Loco-motion with me."

(They dance around the ER room floor.)

(6:30 a.m.)

Nurse: Get up, Dr. Drowsy. Another one is out there all stressed out. She says she got up this morning, and when she shampooed her hair, it started coming out by the handfuls.

Dr. Drowsy: (Gets up and goes into the ER.) The nurse told me you're stressed out and losing your hair.

Administrator: Yes. My hair, my hair. "Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down-to- there hair, shoulder length or longer."

Dr. Drowsy: I'm going to have the nurse give you a shot of Valium and don't worry about the new president.

Just wash that man right out of your hair and buy yourself a big can of hairspray because "if you take a ride with no can at your side. Then your flip will be gone with the wind. But if you spray it and lock it, you can take off in a rocket. And in outer space, each hair will be in place."

Anyway, I read in the newspaper, Dr. A. Zzzzz said the big raises might be justified. So what does that tell you? I don't think you have a thing to be losing your hair over. Not one thing.

(Watch for the next episode of ER , The Justification, in City Ink as soon as it happens.)

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