Macon-Bibb commissioners approve department heads, delay animal welfare director decision

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Tuesday night’s Macon-Bibb Commissioners meeting wasn’t without some disagreement.
The Mayor’s recommendations for director’s positions in the consolidated government went fairly smoothly, but some of the commissioners felt the votes didn’t go in the right direction.

The board approved 15 of the 17 positions open.

But, the vote to reconsider the leader of Animal Welfare wasn’t without opposition, and the vote approving the public works director just barely passed.

“Playin politics, voting for people for the wrong reasons, don’t wanna look at the facts,” said Macon-Bibb Commissioner Mallory Jones.

Jones could only guess why some of his fellow commissioners didn’t agree with him Tuesday night.

Jones supported Van VanDeWalker as animal welfare director in the new consolidated government, and he says the commission made a mistake with the 6-3 vote to reject him.

“He’s done tremendous work here, really putting Macon-Bibb on the map,” said Jones.

The vote allowed the animal welfare position to be considered separately from the other 15 department heads the Mayor recommended to the commission.

Jones says he wanted a change in leadership because he says the current director, Sara Tenon, hasn’t done a good job.

He says the number of animal rescue groups, which save the animals from being euthanized, that work with Macon-Bibb have dropped considerably.

“Right now there is only one that is working there, because the current director has run them off or banned them,” said Jones. “And consequently you don’t have animal rescue groups that are pulling over a thousand animals a year as they did in 2011.”

Also at the meeting, Commissioner Elaine Lucas wanted another position to be reconsidered, but the vote didn’t go the way she would have liked.

“I felt like a lot of these employees from public works have a lot of respect for Richard Powell,” said Lucas.

Macon Public Works Director Richard Powell was not recommended by the Mayor for the same position in the consolidated government.

Lucas wanted the commissioners to hold off on naming the Mayor’s recommendation, former Bibb County Public Works Director, Cliff Howard, but she lost that vote 5-4.

She thinks Powell would have been a good choice.

“I have a lot of respect for him because I’ve seen his work over the years from the council–from being a council member,” said Lucas.

However, she believes Howard will do a good job.

“This has nothing to do with the nominee, I think he is a–Mr. Howard is a very fine man as well and will do an excellent job. But, I wanted to make sure the employees concerns were expressed,” said Lucas.

41NBC reached out to both Richard Powell and Van VanDeWalker, but neither could be reached for comment.

Lucas said only two people interviewed for the animal welfare position.

With VanDeWalker as of now no longer being considered, she felt Tenon would be next in line.

However, the mayor’s office would not say who they are considering for the position.

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