The part of the bill that has gained the most attention is the elimination of the four at-large council members, a feature that has existed since day one under Uni-Gov. It also erodes council oversight authority over the budget and key appointments. Scales' letter indicates that private discussions were to take place between the Republican council's leadership and Young, which she complains that "there has been no word as to whether discussions with [Sen. Young] have been attempted or have taken place, and if they have, what the results of such discussions were." The following is an excerpt of Scales' letter to Young urging him to discuss his legislation with the Republican caucus members before moving it forward towards passage in the House, where House Speaker Brian Bosma has indicated it will receive a hearing:
If SB 621 passes in its current form, the fundamental commitment to a system of governmental checks and balances will be severely eroded. The Council’s oversight and advisement of budgets and departmental appointments and other policy decisions is already compromised by politics. There always exists a tension between what’s good for a political party and what comprises good governance. Votes for desired initiatives can be bartered for with promises of political perks or threats of punishment. This sort of vote kowtowing already offers undue leverage and control to an executive branch of government- a tighter grip on power does not favor the public that is served. Extra care must be taken to ensure that processes providing accountability and transparency in government are not trampled on.
If there is a determined desire to reset the equation of county governance, then let there be a commitment to more time and input as to what a new city-county government model would look like and what weight voices of elected officials would carry. It is imperative that crafting of new policies doesn't conflict with traditional tenets of a democratic republic, which I fear SB621 does.
I ask that at the very least, you would discuss your bill with the Council legislative body before advancing it forward.