Developers have long complained that Hilliard greases the wheels for her cronies' projects, but finds ways to block other proposals. Five years ago, the urban-renewal-minded Winter Properties dropped its ambitious plans for a $4.4-million mixed-use project that might have revived the sorry downtown area after the company decided it couldn't work with city officials. More recently, Kroger gave up on plans for a deluxe shopping plaza.
By contrast, a loft development by one of her political supporters -- who, not coincidentally, called the building Hilliard's on Main -- has drawn fire for not following its approved design.
During her first two terms, Hilliard who is black, has played racial politics, controlling city affairs through an obedient city manager and a voting bloc on the City Council. She has an office suite in City Hall with a private secretary, and she travels frequently on city business, even though the mayor's job is part time.
But her luck may have run out. Last year, during her successful re- election campaign, Hilliard claimed credit for a $12 million city budget surplus. It was revealed soon after, however, that the city is actually $7 million in the red.
The city manager has since been ousted over Hilliard's protests and angry residents are calling for their hands-on mayor to explain where their tax dollars went.
The Weekly Scalawag -- which seeks to recognize cases of public venality, incompetence or general boneheadedness -- is now accepting nominations. E-mail the keeper of the Scalawag at scott.henry @creativeloafing.com