Mayor’s actions come under fire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2005

WOODLAND – A comment made by Woodland Mayor Margaret Burgwyn was the subject of much concern here Thursday.

Citizens scoffed in disbelief when the Mayor stated that she had given the &uot;go ahead&uot; to the organization to pursue the initial $75,000 loan for a proposed subdivision.

Discussion arose after council members agreed to un-table the issue during their January 6 meeting.

Citizens questioned whether or not official action had been taken by the town council to grant Anthony R. Clark Sr., President/CEO of Uhuru Community Development Corporation, permission to place the town’s name on pre-application paperwork to help obtain grant money from the state.

According to Clark, the grant would be one of several other potential grants that would be used for the proposed Hazel Street/Loblolly Street subdivision.

Although, Mayor Burgwyn stated in the meeting that it was not necessary council to vote on placing the town’s name on the paperwork, citizens still question whether her actions were appropriate.

&uot;A mayor doesn’t have any power except to preside,&uot; stated David Lawrence, Professor of Public Law and Government at University of North Carolina School of Government, paraphrasing NC General Statute 160SA-12.

&uot;If a mayor makes a decision on something without first obtaining approval from the council, he or she has operated outside the realm of their authority and the town can ratify his/her decision and renounce that action,&uot; he said.

Lawrence stressed that although Burgwyn’s actions may have been inappropriate, they are by no means illegal.

To clarify her previous statement, Burgwyn explained that she had been contacted by Uhuru and told the organization had intended on putting in an application for a Capacity Grant to help fund their proposed subdivision.

&uot;They notified me that they were going to apply for the grant and asked me to consider a partnership between their organization and the town to help administer the funds, so I went to Raleigh to discuss what that would mean, knowing full well that the decision would have to go before the town council,&uot; she stated.

Burgwyn, who has not yet affixed her signature to the application, stated that she &uot;wouldn’t dare agree or disagree to anything&uot; unless it had gone through the proper process.

&uot;I do believe in being fair,&uot; she said. &uot;The council has the option of turning this proposal down, but I think the people ought to have the chance to share their thoughts and concerns for the record.&uot;

On December 22, during a special called meeting, Burgwyn failed in an attempt to set a date for the public hearing to allow the public a &uot;formal and non-threatening&uot; opportunity to express questions and concerns over the proposed subdivision.

However, in the January 6 meeting, despite the initial appearance that the motion to hold the hearing was going to die for lack of a second, council ultimately voted to hold the hearing.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, January 17 at the Woodland Town Hall.