Downtowners in Riley’s ear during Cauthen debate

Fifth District Councilman Terry Riley led the resistance against Mayor Mark Funkhouser‘s takedown of City Manager Wayne Cauthen at City Hall on Thursday.

Before the chaotic, tedious legislative session began, Riley worked the room, huddling with reporters and the community activists who had come to support Cauthen. Once the suspension came up, he frequently asked for the floor in order to criticize the decision to remove Cauthen and the manner in which the mayor had made it happen. “I was totally ambushed today,” he said.

Race was never far from the surface. Riley complained that he and the other two African-Americans on the council — Melba Curls and Sharon Sanders Brooks — had not known of the mayor’s intent to terminate Cauthen until Funkhouser put it in motion. “Do I count?” Riley asked Funkhouser.

Defending Cauthen, Riley spoke for a segment of the black community. (“If this isn’t racism, I don’t know what is,” an African-American man in the gallery said as he left the council chamber.) He was also representing the interests of downtown business leaders.

Categories: News, Politics