Mayor questions City Council spending

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana revealed what he said are City Council’s alleged unauthorized expenses of the city budget.

On Saturday, when a front-page story in the Sun-Gazette updated readers about the status of the attorney general’s review of questionable expenses by Campana in 2015 and 2016, the mayor went on the offensive.

“City Council, without going through its finance committee, in 2015 authorized pulling $1,500 from the budget to buy a ‘peace pole’ that was placed at the 600 block of Second Street,” Campana said.

That block of Second Street is an area where city police frequently respond to incidents and where shootings occurred in the recent past, according to city police records.

The peace pole was in response to the Beloved Community organization wanting to get a symbol on the troubled block, where many families with children live, according to city Councilman Randall J. Allison.

The organization contacted Campana and former council President Bill Hall through letters, asking both to support the idea, and Hall responded.

The traveling expense for two individuals from Alabama was $800, lodging and food, $250 and materials and labor for the peace pole, $200, according to finance department records.

Hall used money from the council’s legislative contingency line authorized by Hall as department head for council, after Hall spoke with others on council.

Campana further alleged that council gets free soda.

“Council also gets free soda for its committee and council meetings,” Campana said.

The sodas cost $18 a year, according to city financial records.

Most recently, a case of soda was purchased by Allison with his own money, according to the councilman.

The drinks are for anyone in City Hall, he said.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz said council tries the best it can and questioned why he is going back on the peace pole issue? The pole is appreciated in the neighborhood, Katz said.

“I feel bad the mayor is pulling at straws,” Katz said. “We were all given the answer when this happened. This was done for the good of the neighborhood.”