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City OKs consolidation charter

ALBANY -- After more than a year of negotiations and meetings, the city commission agreed to send a proposed charter consolidating the city and county governments to the General Assembly in a 5-2, late-night vote Tuesday.

Voting at 11:05 p.m. Tuesday, the commission approved a resolution that would send the charter to Atlanta but would allow the local state delegation the freedom to do "as the local delegation deems appropriate," documents state.

Commissioners Tommie Postell and Jon Howard were the only dissenting votes.

Voting in support of the measure, Mayor Willie Adams said that while he had reservations about whether the consolidation effort itself would pass muster with the voters, allowing them the opportunity to vote was paramount.

"I'll say on the record that I have a gut feeling that the populous aren't going to support this thing, but I don't want to disenfranchise anyone from having an opportunity to vote," Adams said.

Postell -- who has vehemently opposed the measure he's commonly referred to as a clandestine effort to seize control and power from the black community -- reiterated his position before the vote.

"We're pushing something here and half of us don't know what we're pushing," he said. "We're at a point where the whole situation is chaotic...even Ray Charles could see that and he's blind and dead!"

Postell offered a motion to table the issue until the commission could more adequately understand the provisions of the proposed charter. That motion died from a lack of a second, despite outbursts from the sparse audience saying "second."

Instead, Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who has publicly supported the referendum movement, offered that either of the two resolutions drafted for Tuesday's meeting -- one dictates that the state delegation introduce the bill to the General Assembly for consideration for a referendum, while the other leaves the action of the delegation more open-ended -- be adopted.

Adams said his preference would be the second resolution, which was agreed upon by Langstaff and seconded by Commissioner Morris Gurr.

In his approval, Commissioner Roger Marietta, said he was glad that the commission had chosen the open-ended resolution. He said that it may allow the General Assembly to incorporate data from the upcoming 2010 census into the drawing of the districts, which he believed would be more fair and that consolidation would help local economic development.

"Letting the people debate the issue and vote is the right decision," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Dorothy Hubbard, who has had reservations about the charter because of her inability to find answers to many of the questions of her constituents, said she would support the measure to send the process forward. Hubbard also said she would hold additional meetings to educate the public once a final version is developed before the referendum.

"I am not in a position to give my constituents the answers to their questions, but I believe that we have an obligation to send this document forward with the understanding that I cannot explain to my constituents whether they should vote for it or against it," she said.

The Dougherty County Commission has a special called meeting at 10 a.m. today to discuss, among other things, consolidation. The meeting will be held at the Government Center on Pine Avenue.