08/07/12 — Council member calls for rotating pro tem

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Council member calls for rotating pro tem

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 7, 2012 1:46 PM

The newly elected members of the Goldsboro City Council were asked to vote on a measure just moments after sitting down Monday night, as William Goodman made an unscheduled motion during his opening remarks shortly after being sworn in.

District 2 Councilman Bill Broadaway and District 6 Councilman Gene Aycock kept their initial addresses as city representatives short and amiable -- Broadaway admitted he wasn't aware he would even be speaking -- but Goodman gave a short history lesson on his previous time in office before calling for two votes concerning the mayor pro tempore position.

The mayor pro tempore acts as mayor during any meeting where the mayor is unable to attend, similar to the way a vice chairman operates on other boards.

"I was first elected to the council in 1987 in November. I served until 2004, when I stepped down," Goodman began.

He was forced to resign that year due to his guilty plea to felony charges centered on falsified expense reports he submitted to the state as an employee with the Department of Correction. Although he indicated in the reports that he was staying at a hotel, he was actually staying in a house on the coast he purchased for his mother while he was her power of attorney.

Goodman continued, explaining that he returned to the council because he enjoyed his time in public office and that he was on the board when the city moved to a district system made up of three minority districts and three "white districts."

Prior to that time, he said the mayor pro tempore was the council member who received the highest number of votes, but the system was shifted to one where the position rotated among council members annually -- from a white council member to a black council member to another black council member to a white council member.

This allowed four council members per four-year term to serve as mayor pro tempore, he explained, noting that he served four terms as mayor pro tempore while District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams served two to three times in that capacity. Williams spoke up and indicated he had served as mayor pro tempore twice during that time.

"Things worked out pretty well," Goodman said.

He then made his motion.

"I hope I'm not out of touch, but I make a motion that we go back to that system," he said.

A handful of people in the audience applauded and District 1 Councilman Michael Headen seconded the motion.

During a brief discussion, Aycock and Broadaway both admitted they were not familiar with what was being discussed and would prefer not to vote on the measure at that time, but the motion was already on the floor.

Goodman, Headen and Williams all voted in favor of the motion, which was defeated 4-3.

Undeterred, Goodman continued his address, saying he wanted to make another motion.

"I'd like to make a motion that Michael Headen be mayor pro tempore," he said.

Williams seconded that motion, and again Broadaway protested, asking if it could be tabled until a future meeting.

Goodman, Headen and Williams again voted in favor of the motion, with the rest of the council voting against it.

Mayor Al King then turned his gaze back to Goodman, asking if he had anything else to say, but Goodman said he did not.

Aycock then issued his first remarks.

"I don't want to see the city as a city of color," he said. "I want to see it as the city of Goldsboro."

He then said he wanted to work in the best interest of all citizens.

Goodman's motions weren't discussed further until King's final comments of the meeting, when he explained that several items were kept off the agenda because they would require the new council to vote on items they were unfamiliar with, which was why he voted against the unscheduled motions.

Following the meeting, Goodman declined to elaborate on his view of the previous mayor pro tempore system or to comment further on his motions.

"It's on the tape," he said, adding late that he had no comment.

Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen said this morning that his position, which is a one-year term, is elected or affirmed each year at the discretion of the council and added that it seemed Goodman would continue to be divisive and work in secret just as he did before he left the council.

"My nature is to give people the benefit of a doubt and I was really hoping that, with his time off the council, that he would change and come back and help us work for the good of the city," Allen said. "I can tell from last night that he's the same Bill Goodman -- he hasn't changed.

"That being said, I want the people to know that I respect the people of District 3 who chose him to represent them, but, in my opinion, if he's going to be productive he's going to have to understand that we're not the same council as when he left."

Allen said the council now works in the open and tries to reach a consensus.

"He's not going to change that with his antics," he said.

Allen explained that as mayor pro tempore he has no more power than any other council member, except that he has filled in for the mayor during a handful of meetings. He said he feels the notion that he has power comes from his applying common sense to issues and work to build consensus among council members.

"It takes four people to do anything," he said.

Allen said if he is sworn in he intends to remain mayor pro tempore, but that it's up to the council.