Monday Morning Water Cooler Talk for April 2, 2012

This week will be a big week for local government.  The County will be meeting this morning, while the Caledonia Board of Aldermen and the Columbus City Council will be holding their respective meetings, tomorrow night.  The Real Story has tried, over the past few months, to post the agendas for local government meetings, to ensure that our readers can keep up with the operations of their local government.

However, simply being aware of when your local governing body is meeting is not enough.  It is important that every citizen participate in the process.  Not only should every citizen vote, he or she should make every effort to see, up close and personal, how government functions.

Often these meetings are poorly attended, with only the media present; however, that doesn’t detract from their importance.  These meetings are open to the public, and as long as citizens do not attend, many politicians feel that they can do business without concern from the citizens.

This is arrogant and wrong.  Everything that happens in the operation of government is of concern to the public.  Why?  Because you are paying for it.

The government has no way to make money, so they collect taxes. Period. End of discussion.  The only money they have to spend, is your money.  And, you, as a citizen, should protect your money with all your heart and soul.  So, act like it is your money – because it is!

The County is sitting in the “catbird seat”. After witnessing Supervisor Jeff Smith’s community meeting in Crawford, and Supervisor Harry Sanders’ meeting in Caledonia, it is clear that the county stands head-and-shoulders above the other localities.

While both men had control of their respective meetings, a sense of well-being permeated the event.  Crawford has been concerned about law enforcement and fire protection for years.  During the meeting, County Fire Administrator Sammy Fondren and Sheriff Mike Arledge were able to defuse any concern that the crowd had about those situations.

Fire Administrator Fondren was able to give a calm review of the need for more volunteers and the need to build a new fire station.  The crowd sensed Fondren’s sincerity about their concerns; add Smith’s ability to wow the crowd, and you can see that there is a belief in the County’s ability.

At each meeting, Sheriff Arledge was able to satisfactorily address the audience’s concerns.  Arledge has overhauled the Sherriff’s Department, and the numerous drug arrests have made him a viable law enforcement force, over the past few months.  And, it does not hurt that burglaries have been reduced by 75%, since he took office.

The Caledonia gathering met with the same response.  Harry “owned” the crowd; thirteen years of service go a long way in a close community.  Even when matters turned a little rough, things were smoothed over, in short order.  The $100,000 that was earmarked to build a community center in Caledonia was shipped to Crawford to build the nice facility that had served as the venue for Crawford town meeting, the night before.

Instead of the crowd turning on Harry, he re-directed the focus back on the City officials, by pointing out the fact that the town had refused the money.  The crowd quickly turned against the City officials, and it will probably not be the last time this issue comes up.  However, no blame will be laid at Harry’s feet; it certainly wasn’t that night.

The County not only has the advantage of $30 million in the bank, but a belief by members of the community that they – the citizens – are going to get what they need to make their lives more pleasant.  Right or wrong, this attitude exists in most County meetings, unless officials tear up a road, without asking the community’s permission.

The meetings, this Tuesday night, in Columbus and Caledonia, should be hot.  Much more distrust and dissatisfaction are evident at those meetings.  There are more hurt feelings and more concern.  As we approach elections, the pressure cooker should only get more intense.

No matter what politicians tell you, they want to be re-elected and their egos are huge.  May 2013 is fast approaching, and the stress of not appearing weak or out of step with the community should be mounting. It’s only a matter of time, before the whole nut house goes up in smoke.

How long can they sit before us, look the community in the eyes and say, “We are doing the best that we can”?  Not long, because, right now, the community is watching – in both Columbus and Caledonia.  They want answers and they want them now.  It’s time for everyone to get involved.

Show up, watch the madness and, then, vote.  Your children’s and grandchildren’s futures depend on it!

Joseph B. St. John

Mr. MoJo Rising

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The Real Story for the Golden Triangle and North Mississippi. Always the truth... No Compromise. Changing the community one story at a time! You make the news... We keep it Real.

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4 Comments on “Monday Morning Water Cooler Talk for April 2, 2012”

  1. David Says:

    Why don’t we have meetings in New Hope? I guess they would have to be scheduled on nights when the district 3 supervisors wife is available since she runs that show or he would have to have Harry present since he only speaks in meetings when Harry cues him too.


    • The Real Story Says:

      One small comment on our most recent article. I forgot to mention that the city council meetings are also broadcast at 5pm on Comcast channel 3, so if you have to work and can’t show up, record it and watch it when you get off work.


  2. Tony Lybrand Says:

    Thank God I live in the county where stupidity is at a minimum….


  3. charles divel Says:

    Good point Joe. Some is voter apathy, my vote does not count. Some of it is bullying, Smith in the city and Brooks intimidated a New Hope supervisor in the past Some folks don’t keep informed. I haven’t heard a peep from the current New Hope supervisor. Don’t know if you are aware but the GTPD is more opaque than the CCVB on accountability.


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