UPDATE:A Delaware Chancery Court Judge did not rule in favor of Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams who sought help from the courts to force city council members to attend a special session tonight.
City Council President Theo Gregory who refused to hold the special meeting requested by the mayor on Friday thanked the Chancery Court for its decision.
“The Mayor and his Solicitor, either intentionally or through their own negligence, attempted today but failed to dictate to the legislative branch of City government,” said Council President Gregory. He called the forced council session move “embarrassing” and added that it could have been avoided with face to face communications over the issues that are causing the disagreement.
To add to the drama of the hearing the City-County building was evacuated for a time because of a bomb threat. Here is today’s background.
EARLIER: Just days after Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams called for a special session that was refused by Council President Theo Gregory, Williams is turning to the city’s law department for help with the matter. The mayor wanted a special session scheduled for tonight to discuss the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2014.
Gregory has said there was no reason to call a special session. So now, the mayor confirmed that he’s working on a legal brief to ask the courts to decide on whether or not council members must attend. If Williams gets approval from the courts, each council member could be escorted by the police.
A regular council session is scheduled for Thursday. Gregory says its sole purpose is to vote to override the mayor’s veto of the budget passed by City Council. Williams not only vetoed the budget but calls it unbalanced and unconstitutional. The disagreement is the result of council’s agenda to rearrange $250,000 planned for the Department of Parks and Recreation and eliminate the department’s deputy director position.
“There will be change,we will do what’s right. We won’t do things the way they were done before. People talk about that was the way it was always done, well it’s not going to be that way anymore. Things are going to change,” said Mayor Williams.
In the meantime, if Council overrides the Mayor’s veto this week, then the $145 million balanced budget that Council approved on May 16th, following weeks of examination and public hearings will become the official budget on July 1st.
Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory thanked the Chancery Court for upholding Council’s legislative authority this afternoon by ruling that the Council does not have to hold a special meeting tonight. Mayor Williams had attempted to exercise a provision of the City Charter which allows a Mayor to request a special meeting of Council for a “public necessity.”
“The Mayor and his Solicitor, either intentionally or through their own negligence, attempted today but failed to dictate to the legislative branch of City government,” said Council President Gregory.