June 9, 2011 12:10:00 PM
It''s questionable when any elected official says he made a weighty decision simply because someone asked him nicely.
When a majority of those on the same board offer similar sentiments, it''s downright disturbing.
The Columbus City Council Tuesday appointed Bernard Buckhalter to the restaurant industry seat on the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Board.
Buckhalter is the manager at Wendy''s on Highway 182 East and former head of the Lowndes County NAACP. His competition for the job was local restaurateur John Bean, who has served on the tourism board and heads a food service company that includes The Grill, Peppers, Bulldog Deli and Harvey''s locations in Columbus, Starkville and Tupelo.
After a failed attempt to reappoint Bean, Buckhalter got the nod.
Considering Bean''s background, some people are scratching their heads over the councilmen''s decision.
For at least one councilman, the deciding factor for the appointment was simply because Buckhalter asked.
"Buckhalter came to me -- Bean didn''t," was Councilman Joseph Mickens'' comment on the appointment.
Councilman Gene Taylor, who also was contacted by Buckhalter for support, said there "really wasn''t a reason" to pick one above the other.
"We looked at it and John (Bean) had been there before," he said. "We decided to get some new blood on the board."
Appointing members to public boards is one of the most important responsibilities of local leaders. From zoning laws to school policy, these mostly volunteer boards make decisions that have far-reaching impact on our lives. Our leaders owe it to us to be able to offer a more solid reason for appointing someone to a position -- especially one as influential as the CVB with its $1.4 million budget -- than simply, "he''s the only one who asked" or "he''s a fresh face."
Perhaps Buckhalter is the right person for the job and will bring a fresh perspective to the board.
Councilmen have a duty to make sure the CVB is in capable hands. Those hands should be chosen for the right reasons.
Did they do that in this case? Not if they made their appointment based on anything other than who they thought would do the best job. Not if they didn''t make a concerted effort to find the best person.
Buckhalter might be that person. We don''t know.
But it would seem the city doesn''t either.
coffeehound commented at 6/9/2011 5:00:00 PM:
Am I the only one who noticed that Buckhalter is black and the vote was divided along racial lines? I don't know Buckhalter personally and I don't care what color he is, but apparently the council members do care. I'm just glad John Bean is gone because it IS time for fresh faces on the CVB board. I say good luck to Mr. Buckhalter.
iam4columbus commented at 6/10/2011 1:17:00 AM:
I agree with this editorial that, in consideration of the crucial role that the Columbus CVB Board of Directors plays in both shaping Columbus' tourism efforts and impacting the success of the city, the City Council should put more effort into selecting the individuals that they appoint to that board.
However, I feel that both the Columbus City Council and the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors should take it a step further and reassess the current members of the CVB Board. In light of recent events, such as the questionable use of executive session, board members doing business with the CVB, and the childish public bickering of some of the board members, I believe that we, as taxpayers, should demand that they (City Council and Board of Supervisors) do whatever is necessary to ensure that the CVB board is focused on making Columbus' tourism efforts as successful as possible.
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 6/10/2011 4:58:00 AM:
Hey Dispatch....Pot Kettle Birney.
ckirby commented at 6/11/2011 11:34:00 AM:
When the board of supervisors or previous city councils have voted along racial lines, the Dispatch didn't dance around the issue like it has here. Why now? Let me guess.