Mayor James T. Butts’ City Council Initiative Policy to increase transparency, reduce Council member grandstanding, and reprimand to those who submit initiatives without doing their homework first, was passed with his deciding vote.

The four Council members were split over the policy. Two of them took offense, believing that it infringes on their right to free speech and insults their work while the other two thought it enhances the city’s governance.

“It’s a ludicrous policy. My initiatives are always well-thought out and none of them are frivolous,” said Councilman Michael Stevens.

Among Councilwoman Judy Dunlap’s many objections was the time limit placed on elected Council members who represent the people, whereas the mayor’s appointees can speak at length without time restraints.

However, Councilman Eloy Morales Jr. said, “the mayor’s policy is asking for the city manager’s staff to handle citizen complaint’s during normal business hours, instead of during Council meetings. It’s a productive way to do business.”

And Councilman Ralph Franklin stated, “We can’t do our due diligence when we’re handed initiatives at the last minute. We can’t make these on-the-spot decisions. We need time to vet them.” However, he did object to the policy giving the city attorney veto power over elected officials’ initiatives.

Three other agenda items were approved. The $25,000 reward for information leading to Crystal Crawford’s murderer was renewed. Crawford was shot on May 31, 2009. There are currently five awards being offered to help resolve open cases.

Also, housing rehabilitation for 33 disabled adults was approved to begin phase II for $120,000. It’s part of a program that invests in affordable housing. And all members voted to approve the $300,000 for legal advice from Gergman Dacey Goldsmith.