At Week’s End: November 18, 2011

Tuesday’s City Council Meeting rammed home how the citizens of Columbus have more than a few problems to deal with regarding their city government. Even the simplest of tasks seem difficult or at least more frustrating for both city employees and citizens. What should be easy is now complicated, because of the lack of direction from the Mayor and the six councilmen.

Early in the meeting on Tuesday, during the monthly reports, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem challenged Mike Pratt, Public Works Director, to account for work orders not being completed in his Ward. It sounded good, except that Mr. Karriem already knew why this was so. The work crews have all been assigned to special projects and Mr. Pratt has little or no control over where his people are working. All six council members knew this, and if they don’t, they should.

Such grandstanding is not only dysfunctional, it is superciliousness at best. Mr. Karriem knows the problem, and that is what he needs to address. While the community is aware that Mr. Karriem’s meetings with Mayor Robert Smith have not all gone well, and that this might affect his judgment on speaking out, he should go to the source of the problem and not lay the blame on a city employee.  It is demeaning for Columbus.

The Chief of Police hiring process gets crazier as each day passes. The “Committee of Four” rightly passed this mess back to the Mayor and City Council. In a moment worthy of Monty Python logic, it was announced that the City could not pay transportation for any out-of-town candidates to come for a job interview. What? After months of controversy, strife, and pain, our leaders still have not figured out how to get the candidates here for an interview?  Was all the money spent in Reno?

This would be comical if it were not so sad. Leadership has hit an all time low when a fundamental question, such as how we pay to get the candidates here for an interview is left dangling. Was anyone on either hiring committee aware of this impasse? Did anyone involved actually believe that this was not a grave concern?

Four and a half years ago, this was not a problem. Why is it a problem now? How is the City going to handle it? What if only one candidate is left, and there are concerns that he was not even the most qualified candidate to be appointed Chief?

It is time for Robert Smith and the Council to stop hiding behind the “chosen” media and the committees, and hold a press conference with all the local media and open to the citizens. No more Birney Imes speaking on their behalf; no canned speeches written for them.

This is a call for leadership. Mayor Robert Smith must lead a press conference to face the collective consciousness of the City. He, along with the rest of the Council, should be available to answer questions from the media and citizens at a formal press conference.

This Press Conference should take place before the City moves forward with the Chief of Police hiring process. This meeting should be held after 7 pm, so that citizens can be there without having to take time off from work. There should be advance notice given so that everyone can attend. It should not be called on the spur of the moment to ensure light attendance.

The only way for the Mayor to show leadership is to hold this press conference and answer questions with no pre-written statements. The Mayor should be open with the community and the press. It is important to include those who have not gathered inside information about the process. It would also be appropriate for the four final subcommittee members to make themselves available for questions from the citizens and the media about their roles.

This might be awkward for Mr. Imes and Mr. Rogers, since it is a media event. However, they ceased being the media when they began to serve with the government. So, it would be important for them to be there to answer some questions as well.

In light of all the events of the last several months, City Hall needs to look at how it sends out information and how it handles its website. In the year 2011, every City Council Meeting should be available on our city website. This would give everybody an opportunity at their convenience to watch their city leaders in action. This would also make our elected officials more accountable in regard to what they say and do, or, in reference to Carl A. Lee, what they do not say or do.

This is 2011, and this technology is available. Unfortunately, leadership and technology do not always meet. With many of our leaders not willing, or not able to send an E-mail message or type a letter on their computers, this is not likely to happen fast, but it is an essential tool needed for the community. The 21st Century will not arrive here in Columbus, Mississippi, as long as our leadership still just uses a pen and pad.


The Real Story has been moving fast, and we thank you for your support. We hope to have a mid-January print date! That’s right. We will be in newspaper print in about two months. We will be bringing you even more news, sports and other community interest stories. And, as always, the truth with no compromise!!!

Joseph B. St. John

A/K/A Mr. MoJo Rising

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5 Comments on “At Week’s End: November 18, 2011”

  1. CRB Says:

    in the interest of open meetings, the coucil meetings should be filmed and posted on a local access channel which should be available through the local office of the cable tv provider, as well as other available distrubution outlets in the city. At least the county board of supes posts the agenda they discussed following their meetings, occasionally with some level of detail regarding the discussion.

    Given the council’s propensity to keep everything secret, I would not trust a self edited document produced under their control … unedited video footage would certainly be preferrable.

    Is it time to begin an “Occupy Columbus” encampment? no wait … what exactly would that disrupt within the city government? Something must be running before it can be interfered with. It’s more like stagnant pond water at the moment.


  2. Street King Says:

    Just saw on the news where another officer is in trouble for being in a sub-station with a female all the while his vest and belt is in his car unsecured. He was also a part of the vicksburg mess. Does the CPD ever get rid if the screw ups?


    • Chuvk Baker Says:

      I grew up in a neighboring state in a city with a 20-plus year mayor who understood law enforcement. He spent from 5 a 7 am each morning patrolling the streets in order to identify issues that needed to be addressed by city services.

      If any officer was involved in a Vicksburg type incident, he would have been disciplined within the Dept and if another incident occurred, he would have been dismissed … period. Mayor Emory Dollar was a tough man, but a good man. Was sorry to hear that he passed recently.

      There is a complete lack of effective conttoll over the way city services are managed … from.the top. It is time for a complete change in leadership in order that our city can function that reflects our potential. We can build so many cool things here but the handcuffs are on the wrong people and organizations

      Next election, we need to make ourselves heard

      We need leaders, not politicians


    • Chuck Baker Says:

      Sorry … autocorrect got me again … the mayor’s name was Emory Folmar. Was sorry to read that he passed recently.

      I did not agree with everything that he did as mayor, but he had a vision and a plan for the City of Montgomery and made the city a better place during his time as a leader of the city.


  3. Chuck Baker Says:

    Sorry. Autocorrect got me again. The Mayors name was Emory Folmar. I did not agree with everything he did as mayor, but he had a vision and made Montgomery a better city during his 20 years as mayor. I was sorry to hear of his recent passing.


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