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FELDER: Early returns on Crosby show promise

Ben Felder, news editor

When this council and mayor said it was time for a change in leadership at the city manager’s desk I cautioned that it might not be the right move but believed these city leaders – which were put into office by a majority of voters – deserved a chance to show they were right.

I still don’t necessarily agree with the way the firing of Clark Williams went down and I’m not fully prepared to say it was the right decision but the early (very early) returns on the move seem promising.

The Jim Crosby era in Piedmont is still in its infancy but he has been here long enough to show that things at city hall were not all roses under Williams and there are some early signs that the council could move further under Crosby, if for no other reason than a higher level of trust.

During a recent council workshop Crosby presented some of the challenges facing Piedmont, which include contracts for water and sanitation service that negatively impact the city, no clear plan on how to move the fire department and police department forward in terms of equipment and staff, and the recent discovery that a fire hydrant was improperly installed (see page 3A) with no answer on who dropped the ball.

Each one of these issues is the equivalent of a football team failing to snap the ball before the end of the play clock. They aren’t disastrous on their own, but after a while you start to wonder about the coach.

Another early benefit with having Crosby at the helm is this council and mayor trust him. I’m not saying there were reasons they shouldn’t have trusted Williams, but the reality was many of them didn’t. I had heard Williams mention several times that a general obligation bond might be a solution to Piedmont’s poor roads, but I can’t imagine the majority of this council and mayor going along with bonds if it were to have been proposed by him. The moment Williams would have mentioned the word “bond” the council would have been in a deadlock. But when Crosby makes the proposal it is met with much more openness.

All the facts concerning Crosby’s bond proposal are not yet known, which makes it difficult to say this is a good idea. But it deserves some close thought and ultimately probably deserves to reach the ballot box. A well thought out and researched bond could very well bring Piedmont’s roads into the 21st Century but it’s hard to imagine this getting accomplished under Williams’ watch because of the lack of trust that had existed.

This mayor and many council members said there were problems under Williams’ watch but the problem was they wouldn’t clearly say what those problems were. It was easy for the public to not see any clear grounds for termination when the previous city manager was receiving awards from the county while his opponents on the council were simply saying he was no good.

Well, those opponents are beginning to define their case against Williams by highlighting specific issues with the way the city was run. However, the hard work in city government is not identifying problems, it’s fixing them and that is still a goal yet to be met when it comes to repairing roads, improving infrastructure and even getting an agreement done with Williams Foods grocery store.

Am I convinced that a change at city manager was necessary last year? Not quite, but let’s just say this council and mayor said it was necessary and I’m not entirely convinced they won’t end up being right in the end.


  1. Sue James says:

    Ben, very good article. I think we all will be happy this move to hire Crosby was made. He is a man of alot of experience and good ideas. Over time I feel like we will know the reasons Clark Williams was fired. We all have to remember this was a personnel issue. The city isn’t at liberty to divulge all the facts since he was a city employee.

  2. John M Simpson says:

    Ben, I like your article my only problem with the mayor and wade johnson is they never set foot in city hall for the two years just prior to getting elected by the special interest groups, so my question why did they have so much disdain and distrust to clark williams they never knew him before getting elected. And why do they keep fighting the williams contract, hell they never read it so how would they know whats in the contract?

    • Ant says:

      Oh so they have no right to be there in your opinion??? What will you do if the supreme court rules against your group??

  3. Sue James says:

    JMS Why do you always think they are part of a special interest group? Maybe because they just don’t agree with what you did to Bill Sharp? Or do you now not want to talk about that?

    • Ant says:

      JMS is his own special interest. He only wants to use parts of the city charter when it is favorable to his aggenda. The funny thing is they keep forcing their views even though they have lost every legal battle they have brought. Now the supreme court is next. The community needs to make a stand at the next elections and confirm their will that wasdisplayed last election. This group is trying to hijack the council because they did not get their way last time.

  4. Darrel Booth says:

    While we have had disagreements in the past and will most likely have them in the future we have not become disagreeable. We can have civil discourse and still be respectful of each other contrary to some who, like small children could not get their way and as a result threw a tantrum. In the issue of Mr.. Crosby, I agree time will tell but I have seen his actions in the past and feel that the decision to employ him was the second smart move of this council, the first being creating the vacancy. It was my personal observation at a council meeting prior to his being elevated to city manager to see his level of competence and demeanor dealing with the public. He certainly illustrated “Peter’s Principles” and lasted much too long. The real issue is “what is best of ALL of Piedmont” not just for special interests. In every election there are winners and losers. In the most recent case those who”lost” were so upset because their personal issues got interrupted and as a result of their behavior created an atmosphere that has not ever existed in our community. Ben, thank you for your efforts and I am sure we will disagree again but we don’t have to be disagreeable or disrespectful.

  5. Ant says:

    Well stated Darrell!! When you watch the meetings and see the blatent disrespect in the audience and on the council it just makes you sick. Now the group is appealing to the state supreme court because yet again they are not getting their way.

  6. John M Simpson says:

    You are so right Ant!!!!!!

  7. Sue James says:

    I totally agree Darrel. This group fights with anyone that doesn’t agree with them on the issues. Even judges. It all boils down to – they lost in the last election. I know they blame it on the fliers, but I remember going to the public forum and the losers were no where to be seen. If a candidate doesn’t show enough interest to attend a public forum, he sure isn’t getting my vote. People were just ready for change.

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