Though not budgeted as such, one of the main themes from Monday’s City Commission meeting was the debate over the homeless in the community. If it wasn’t for one commissioner’s vivid recall about a pledge by the mayor, an unscheduled vote would have happened.
During Monday’s meeting, commmissioners saw an agenda item on the homeless task force meeting this Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the Carnegie Training Room (right on top of the DDA meeting there which begins at 8:30 a.m.?). It follows the called public safety meeting last Friday attended by members of community organizations working with the 400-plus homeless residents of Rome/Floyd County.
But during the City Commission meeting Monday evening, as you can watch on the video replay of the commission meeting starting around the 37-minute mark with Commissioner Milton Slack on camera, you’ll see efforts being made to reintroduce resolutions tabled earlier dealing with “urban camping” and “pandhandling.” The sequencing seems prearranged.
Slack, Mayor Bill Collins and commissioners Craig McDaniel and Randy Quick talked about Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney’s request for some sort of “tool” for her officers to use in dealing with problems associated with the homeless. Downer-McKinney briefly spoke at the podium, thanking the board for its interest and saying the officers need more assistance in dealing with such issues.
The commissioners talked about wanting to help the police department while including plenty of caveats about concerns for the homeless; one bordered on an “us vs. them” theme, citing 200 homeless vs. the 96,000 residents of Rome/Floyd County.
McDaniel concluded the city’s public safety committee was ready to move forward with such guidelines and Slack (the committee chair) concurred. But just before a formal motion could be made, Commissioner Wendy Davis reminded Collins that he had told the homeless coalition that the commission would listen to “continuing conversation” before bringing the ordinances up again for a commission vote. Voting on it Monday night, she said, would be perceived as “kind of sneaky.”
Collins quickly moved on to other business amid a few race red faces among the commission.