WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Heated discussions continued in Tuesday night's West Columbia city council meeting.
The fiery debate comes after council members voted to shift the duties of presiding officer from the mayor to mayor pro tem two weeks ago, but West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens is not going down without a battle.
Owens took matters into his own hands, seeking advice from SC Attorney General, Alan Wilson, who said the mayor pro tem could not serve as the presiding officer over council meetings.
The proposal to shift responsibilities stem from Councilman Tem Miles accusing Mayor Owens of treating them like "mushrooms" and abusing his power.
However, Miles had a change of heart in Tuesday night's meeting. The District 4 representative stated he no longer held interest in pursuing the shift between mayor and mayor pro tem.
â??Given that the Attorney General looked at it and said that the mayor pro tem's powers are temporary, even though I don't agree that the powers to serve as a presiding officer under our form of government is a power of the mayor. We didn't see any need in confronting that if we didn't have to, to achieve the same thing we wanted,â?? said Councilman Tem Miles.
Instead Miles made another proposal.
After council voted unanimously to table the original motion indefinitely, Miles proposed to amend the text by changing the wording from mayor pro tem to chair person.
â??All we wanted out of this process is more accountability over the presiding officer to improve the deliberative process, and this avoided a fight which we didn't need by changing the terminology from mayor pro tem to chair person,â?? added Miles.
Mayor Joe Owens declined to comment on camera, but during the meeting said the council was orderly before Miles was elected.
â??I don't care about me but the city does not deserve this kind of garbage being thrown around,â?? said Owens.
Several citizens packed council chambers in support of Owens.
Citizens including the mayorâ??s wife, Debbie Owens, took the floor for public input. They all had a similar message for council, "Grow up and stop acting like children."
â??This place was peaceful before you showed up,â?? said another citizen to Councilman Miles.
Miles says the change in powers from mayor to a chair person is simply to move the city of West Columbia forward, and not to gain the Mayor's powers.
Council will elect a presiding officer at the next meeting.
Miles tells WACH Fox he does not have any interest in becoming the presiding officer.