Originally created 09/26/03

Milledgeville mayor suffers another loss in campaign against council



MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- A Superior Court judge Wednesday denied Mayor Floyd Griffin's attempt to keep the Milledgeville City Council from hiring a city manager.

After the request for a temporary restraining order was denied by Dublin Circuit Senior Judge William Towson, the attorney representing Griffin said he plans to file a federal lawsuit to prevent the council from hiring a city manager.

Even so, councilman Richard Hudson said with the judge's ruling he is ready to start the process for finding a city manager.

"I think we're going to try to do whatever we're going to do at the next council meeting," Hudson said.

Councilman Ken Vance said the council will "move forward diligently" on the issue.

After hearing testimony and considering arguments from lawyers representing the City Council and Griffin, Towson said, "There is a strong difference in the philosophies of city government here."

Griffin's attorney, James Voyles, argued that the ordinance creating the city manager position was unconstitutional because it abolished the mayor's powers in midterm.

"It does not," Towson said. "The office of mayor is changed but not abolished."

Griffin testified Wednesday that hiring a city manager would create "chaos" for Milledgeville because the city is changing its fiscal year and the budget now being prepared will last the city 18 months.

In announcing his ruling, Towson said there is "evidence of some problems with implementation" of the city manager issue.

"The city council holds the purse strings. These are problems they have the power and authority to deal with," Towson said.

Tom Richardson, the attorney representing the council members, said he believes the issue will withstand a federal challenge, particularly because the U.S. Department of Justice has already reviewed the changes to the city's charter that create the city manager position.