The City Council’s Hands Off Approach Is Misguided

At the November 18 meeting of the City Council, City Attorney Charlie Waldrep (hired in November 2012 for a then-reported flat fee of $660,000 per year) cited case law from 1966, Day v. Andrews, in his advice to the Council to not stay and listen to a report commissioned by Councilman Gene Smith (acting in his capacity as a private citizen and using his own $30,000 as funding for the report) regarding how eliminating school buses may impact the city of Hoover.

From the November 18, report:

Waldrep said it was inappropriate for the council to discuss the matter during an official council meeting because the council is not supposed to interfere with or influence the activities of the Hoover Board of Education and this is a decision for the school board to make.

He said if three or fewer council members wanted to stay and hear the report and discuss it as individuals, that would be OK. But a quorum of council members would be an official meeting, and he believed it would be inappropriate for the council to discuss it as a body.

At that point, all but two Council members left. John Lyda, elected in November 2012, and Gene Smith (who commissioned the report as a private citizen) stayed.

The case Waldrep cited had nothing to do with the issue at hand. Nothing.

The 1966 case  involved a Council-appointed Board of Education (BOE) from Daleville that fired its superintendent and was about to hire a new one. Apparently the Council wasn’t pleased with the firing of the superintendent. The Mayor had a policeman deliver a letter to a board member demanding his resignation. A lawsuit was filed to keep the Mayor from removing the board member.

The Court ruled that the Mayor nor the Council could remove an appointed Board member unless it was for a reason the law allowed.

This case says NOTHING about a City Council and a Board of Education having conversations and sharing information about what is best for the school system in their city.

This case says NOTHING about a City Council meeting with citizens to discuss school district difficulties.

Yet Council members are hiding behind Waldrep’s misguided advice to avoid their duty to ensure our city and our school system stay strong.