Mobile City Council opens up spending

Mobile County
Council meeting

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Mobile City Council has passed a new ordinance to open the door for more transparent spending. It comes on the heels of a legal battle between the two branches of government. 

A unanimous vote. “We wanted to start this new year with was complete transparency,” said Councilman Levon Manzie.

The council’s move would give them a say in all the hiring, firing, and contacts with the city.

“Those things that require the council’s consent and advisement, so that there aren’t any agreements being consummated that we aren’t aware of and ultimately the public isn’t aware of. That’s what this ordinance does, and I’m hopeful that it doesn’t have a one way or another on the legal issues we have before us,” said Manzie. 

This comes days after Mayor Sandy Stimpson filed a lawsuit against the council. The council re-hired council spokesperson, Marion Steinfels, after the mayor fired her. Mayor Stimpson’s office says this is a direct violation of current law. Steinfels is back to work for the council, on a volunteer basis. 

“She does an outstanding job,” said Manzie. 

During a court hearing last week, the council’s lawyer said there’s been an abuse of contracts made by the mayor’s office of more than $4.5 million.

This new ordinance would require all contracts to be approved by the council. They would be public record, and taxpayers could see where their money is going. The mayor left the meeting before the council heard and approved an amended version of the ordinance. 

“I’m glad we were unanimously able to agree that transparency is important in the city of Mobile,” said Manzie.

But, before the new rule becomes law, the mayor has to approve it.

The mayor’s office says they haven’t reviewed the amended ordinance. However, several city department heads have told the mayor’s office, this new rule would drastically slow down city government. 

Last week, the judge ordered the council and mayor into mediation to try and resolve the matter. Manzie told News 5 after Tuesday’s meeting they will be meeting with a mediator in January, but have not yet determined a date.

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