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      Citizens of West Columbia question city council's professionalism

      WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - After Monday night's city council meeting in West Columbia, the fiery debate between council members and the Mayor has the city's citizens questioning the board's professionalism.

      "What people should have saw out of last night other than just arguments was what the proposal should have been," said Jay Fain, a wounded war veteran who attended the meeting. "They weren't bad ideas, people just weren't listening."

      Councilman Tem Miles took the initiative by proposing a few changes to the mayor's current responsibilities in the meeting. Those changes include shifting the authority to preside over council meetings and appointing special committees from the mayor to the mayor pro tem.

      In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Miles says his colleagues asked him to look into the changes and argues that the proposal stems from years of the mayor abusing his power and preventing consideration of opposing views.

      "A majority of the council took an important first step moving to a system where council will elect the presiding officer," said West Columbia City Councilman, Tem Miles. Currently the mayor serves as the presiding officer, and the public never sees his conduct in private session.

      But the proposal was not taken lightly by Mayor Joe Owens who said on Monday night, he was ambushed by the new changes, and that council is only trying to strip his powers away.

      "The actions that we are proposing to take and received first reading last night, are not being brought about as an affront to the mayor or any retribution to the mayor. It is simply to move to a system that we believe will provide more accountability, over our presiding officer and will improve a deliberative process," said Miles.

      As for the citizens of West Columbia, they're hopeful council members will dust off Monday nights arguing fest, and handle the next meeting more professionally.

      "I think things will be better at the next meeting, they'll hash some things out. I think things got a little emotional last night and shouldn't have," said Fain.

      Council has yet to set a date for the second reading of the proposed changes.