Finding Hearing Officer Postpones Civil Service Hearing

Many facets of city government are now frozen, all hinging on the hearing for the four civil service commissioners, which can't take place until a hearing officer is appointed. The mayor presented three names for the city council to approve at Tuesday night's meeting, but Council President George Thomas says Tuesday, those hearing officer candidates had not yet been asked if they are able or willing to participate.

"As far as I know, they were not contacted to ask if they would even do the hearing, and if they would, when would they do it, how much would they charge? So there's still a lot of questions," Councilman Thomas says.

But the council says it can't make a decision until it has the necessary information on these candidates, which holds up all future hearings. Attorney Bill Ready, Jr., says he's frustrated but doesn't blame the council for this holdup.

"The mayor sat around and didn't get the council the information. If I was on the council, I wouldn't want to be making a decision tonight without knowing about the choices that I have to choose from," Ready says.

The Council hoped to have the civil service hearing on April 20. But now Mayor Percy Bland estimates it will come about a month after the hearing officer is chosen, a day both he and the council have said they are eager to see.

"There were multiple violations that were done," Mayor Bland says. "I want to give them the opportunity to communicate why they made the actions they did."

But as for what those actions are, the Council is still in the dark.

"We will go into this hearing, basically, with no information, which may be the appropriate way. I can't say that it's inappropriate, but it would be nice to know what those charges are, so we can ask the questions we need to ask," Councilman Thomas says.