When in the course of human events…”language that recall sterling moments of US history and pride swells when we hear these word uttered. Yet, actions in the Caddo courthouse today touch on similar issues of power and abuse of power that brought forth civil unrest in our past.
Mayor Glover has abused his elected office, the city council and citizens through repeated actions related to the dog park. The dog park is not the real issue in the greater view of his actions. The dog park is merely the conduit the mayor used to display complete disrespect for the democratic process.
Mayor Glover, by his action and inaction, has usurped the executive branch authority to control the powers of the legislative branch. When the legislative branch lacks the authority to override the veto of the mayor and require court intervention to recognize the mayor’s improper (illegal) use of power, the separation clauses in government instruments lose their authority.
The executive branch is given broad latitudes in daily control of government activities, however, the city council must have authority to direct certain policies of the whole. This is not the same as directing garbage pick up on a street or specifying which speed limits to enforce in which parts of town. This is about usurpation of power.
The argument of the attorneys for the mayor that the dog park proponents are “sticking their noses into the day to day actions of the mayor” seems inappropriate in this instance. The judge’s example in construction, of deciding to build a building properly compares the daily decisions of what is completed on a daily basis by members of the construction team in tools and building materials. The council determines that the park is necessary, the mayor decides which trucks will carry materials and which drivers to employ. He may chose to use wheel barrows or teaspoons to deliver dirt.
The parks and facilities of the city are clearly covered in the city charter, and dog park attorney, Keele, covered these in his argument. He addressed the charter sections specifically that the mayor must direct the daily actions, but the legislative branch must demand the mayor act to follow the directives unanimously adopted by the council.
The agreement with the Red River Waterway Commission is the issue the mayor is required specifically to sign, and that is the Mandamus action demanded by the court.
The viability of the legislation was the judge’s question to the attorneys. The attorneys argue about the wording “authorize and require.” This was the principle the court determined.
The intent the judge determine of the council was quite clear. The wording wasnot open to compromise.
Keele was acting as an agent for the city council in his action, yet the council is not paying his fees. The council is the benefactor of the actions of the dog park without having a representative in the court. The people are being treated to a lesson that is only partially paid by the people, and yet they win and lose with the decision of the court.
The mayor stated he will appeal, and his continued fight against this judgement should be at his personal cost. The people have paid dearly for this decision, and the ruling may yet have ramifications that cost future mayors and city councils.