Power shifts smoothly on Berkeley Council
Berkeley County Council’s reorganization meeting went better Monday than many expected.
“We could have ... subjected everybody to what we were subjected to, but I want to be a functional government,” said Councilman Tim Callanan. “It’s a new beginning here. Hit the ‘reset’ button.”
In the meeting, which only lasted about 30 minutes, council voted on a reorganizational plan and unanimously elected Councilman Dennis Fish as the new vice chairman. Four years ago, Supervisor Dan Davis used his first tie-breaking vote to choose Councilman Caldwell Pinckney for vice chair over Fish.
“I was just happy to be nominated,” Fish said after the meeting. “It’s an honor that they thought I can do it, and I’ll do the best job I can.”
Since Davis made that first deciding vote, he has cast many others, often siding with Pinckney and Councilmen Jack Schurlknight, Steve Davis and Bob Call, leaving Fish, Callanan and Council members Cathy Davis and Phillip Farley in the minority.
However, in June, Call was defeated in the Republican primary by newcomer Ken Gunn, who had no opposition in the general election. Gunn is expected to vote with Callanan’s crew, giving them a majority.
On Monday, he did that, as council voted 5-2, with Councilman Steve Davis absent, on rules and committee reorganization.
Among the changes are more detail on meeting agendas and moving meetings to 6:30 p.m. from 6 p.m.
Additionally, committees will now include the entire council. Two years ago committees were restructured to just five members.
“The source of much of the acrimony that exists on council can be traced back two years ago when a majority on council chose to deny certain members their right to vote on committees,” said Callanan, who presented the plan. “It’s time to reverse this action and go back to committees of the whole and give each member a right to sit and vote on every committee.”
Schurlknight and Pinckney voted against the proposals, both saying that they had not seen the documents, a total of 32 pages, until the meeting.
“I am sure all intentions are good, but I’d feel a whole lot better if we had the opportunity to give it some thought,” Pinckney said.
After the meeting, Schurl knight said he was against changing the committee structure because he feels that councilmen can be more effective serving on a few committees instead of on all of them. Otherwise, he said, the meeting went as expected.
“I think they’ll make some good decisions and when they do, I’ll support them, but if I disagree, then we’ll have some discussion,” he said. “I’m just here to do a good job and move this thing forward in a positive fashion.”
Council’s actions pleased many political watchdogs in the audience, most from the Republican Party, who applauded at the end of the meeting.
“I think we are finally moving away from the acrimony,” said Terry Hardesty, a Republican and former county school board member. “It’s nice that everybody finally has a voice.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.