2010-05-28 / Government / Neighborhood

Mayor-elect Steve Benjamin introduces transition team

By John Temple Ligon

Mayor Elect Steve Benjamin introduces his transition leadership team: Bessie Watson, Barbara Rackes, Mayor Elect Steve Benjamin, Robert Dozier, and Luther Battiste Mayor Elect Steve Benjamin introduces his transition leadership team: Bessie Watson, Barbara Rackes, Mayor Elect Steve Benjamin, Robert Dozier, and Luther Battiste Beginning Monday, May 24, Columbia Mayor– elect Steve Benjamin’s transition leadership team was in effect. Benjamin presented his four–person team at City Hall:

Luther Battiste, former member of city council and former mayor pro–tem, lawyer and former president of the Richland County Bar Association

Rober t Dozier , CoastalStates Bank executive vice–president and managing director, trustee at Midlands Technical College

Barbara Rackes, Internet pioneer and entrepreneur, director of TheRackesGroup

Bessie Watson, community leader and president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods

The four transition team leaders will cover eight major city issues, bringing in others as necessary to staff the transition: (1) economic development, (2) public safety, (3) the environment and sustainability, (4) regionalism, (5) efficiency in governmental operations, (6) public health, (7) arts and historic preservation, and (8) education and community development. Presumably two of the eight major city issues will come under the direction of each of the four transition team leaders.

Conspicuously absent from the list of eight and from the past experiences of the four team leaders is mass transit, Columbia’s grossly inadequate bus system. Benjamin said the bus system is an issue suitable for regional resolution. It’s not up to the city, he said, to independently solve a regional problem.

When asked why all the positioning for change, why all the analyses of the city’s current condition, Benjamin said that the Coble era has run 20 years, a long time, and it’s time for a complete reconsideration. Benjamin praised the Coble effort, but he also pointed to profound corrective action in the near term.

The final product from the transitional team will be a published report due on the mayor’s desk July 1, the first day of the Benjamin administration.

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