Originally created 01/18/00

Will Mays lead?

Augusta's newly-elected mayor pro tem, Commissioner Willie Mays, has a wonderful opportunity today to provide the kind of leadership that would get the new year off to a great start.

Mays holds the deciding vote on how to deal with the city's space allocation problems. There are basically two options, as detailed in a two-year-old $90,000 space study:

Move the bulk of City Hall out to Regency Mall, into the old Belk's building. This plan, which has four seemingly solid Commission votes, is favored by many south Augustans.

The second proposal would consolidate most municipal offices downtown in the old Davison's building on Broad Street, leaving the court system at the vacated Municipal Building. This plan has five Commission votes.

This is where Mays comes in. He has withheld his vote from either plan, instead urging that a new administrative building be built. This would be more expensive than the other plans and enjoys no Commission support. (Renovation costs of Belk's and Davison's to accommodate city offices run about the same.)

So the governing options boil down to this: Continue the 5-4 deadlock, and nothing gets done about the city's most pressing problem. Or Mays can break the logjam by casting the sixth and decisive vote for Davison's.

It's inexplicable why he hasn't done this already, since it would be in the interests of many of his constituents who live in the downtown area.

The bottom line is that until the Commission decides where it wants government facilities located, little can be done to bring about the efficiencies promised by consolidation.

Mays has it within his power to break the awful logjam that has stifled the city's progress for several years. As mayor pro tem, he owes it to the city to get moving -- and shake the Commission's "do-nothing" reputation.


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