By Maria Saporta
Whose bright idea was it to hold city council committee meetings on run-off election day?
It took nearly four hours for the Atlanta City Council’s Committee for Human Resources and Community Development on Tuesday to finally take some kind of action on the proposed Sustainable Building Ordinance.
The ordinance, introduced to council in July, has been held in committee for months as environmentalists and developers have tried to find common ground in having more green building practices in the city of Atlanta.
In the end, the committee voted to forward the ordinance to the full council at its meeting on Monday with no recommendation. The committee also defeated an amendment that would have gutted the ordinance by making it voluntary rather than mandatory.
It was Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood who made the motion to defeat that amendment, and it was Norwood who made the motion to forward the ordinance to full council.
But at what cost?
As soon as that vote was cast, Norwood, and her colleague, Ceasar Mitchell, rushed out of the meeting. Norwood was in the last day of a brutal run-off for mayor against former state Sen. Kasim Reed. And Mitchell also was in a run-off in the City Council President race.
Both patiently had waited as about 20 members of the public went on and on about the merits or problems with the ordinance.
Norwood said she had been at City Hall since 11:30 that morning working on that ordinance as well as an important issue that had come up about the Beltline.
“If I lose by 500 votes, I’m going to be….mad,” Norwood said, catching herself before she used a word that might not be becoming.
But then she quickly added that she had no choice. If she were going to be a responsible public servant, she had to be present when important votes were to be cast. Otherwise, it would be hypocritical for her to run for mayor. If you’re an elected official, that’s what one does.
According to the latest Fulton County election results, Norwood came up 620 votes shy among 84,176 votes cast in the mayor’s race.
Did the fact that Norwood spent more than four precious hours at City Hall on Tuesday rather than being out in the streets getting people to the polls contribute to her coming up short?
That’s one of those questions that can never be answered. Obviously, it would have been wise for council to have rescheduled that meeting on another day so as not to put people running for office in that no-win situation of having to choose to campaign or to be at a committee meeting.
(Mitchell ended up winning his race handily, defeating City Councilwoman Clair Muller).
As to the sustainable building ordinance (which is actually an update of the city’s existing building code), the good news that this council will have an opportunity to vote for it on Monday at its last meeting of the year.