November 21, 2013 11:02:16 AM
The big story from Tuesday's Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting was supposed to be about compromise. However, the board's defeat of a proposal that would have banned cellphones at board meetings was overshadowed by Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn's childish attack upon Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory.
Not only was Wynn's attack unfounded -- she claimed a letter written by Gregory did not have the support of the GSDP Executive Committee, a charge GSDP Chairman Richard Hilton refuted -- but she also used a public forum to criticize Gregory, at the time of the scolding, was not at the meeting.
The only thing more unbecoming than Wynn's loose grasp of the facts was her snarky, condescending tone when confronted with Hilton's contradiction of her assertions.
Gregory is one of many who have helped make Starkville what it is today and who is laying the foundation for greater success. Her stature does not protect her from criticism, but Wynn would have been more credible confronting Gregory in person instead of engaging in a public verbal flogging, and an unsubstantiated one at that.
If Wynn has not learned how to take criticism - Gregory's letter was simply a request for transparency and bipartisanship - then maybe politics isn't for her. Unfortunately, Starkville residents must bear the burden of her shortcomings as her unspectacular tenure continues.
From briefing constituents on economic development projects known by the public for months, opposing a bipartisan ordinance review committee comprised of developers and community representatives and supporting the cellphone ban that would have impacted the basic freedom of speech, Wynn has proven to be a champion of obfuscation.
Besides offering no clear explanation of her position on the sidewalk and landscaping ordinance reviews, her apparent aversion to transparency can be clearly measured in other ways. Wynn rarely speaks beyond prepared statements. In fact, when Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker proposed a transparent review committee for those two ordinances, Wynn read aloud a statement that simply rehashed what previously happened -- developers said they were burdened by Starkville's rules, so she wants the city to review them. She exhibits no real understanding of the issues that come before the board and consequently adds nothing of value to the discussions.
Wynn also rarely gives comments to media. She has avoided The Dispatch from the start -- she last answered our reporter's phone calls before the city's June election. Other media outlets fare no better -- she consistently meets those inquiries with a "no comment." Coming from a candidate who openly campaigned on transparency, it is a slap to Ward 2 voters. When elected officials consistently avoid commenting to a news organization, they avoid speaking to their constituents. Politicians should be mindful that "constituents" includes residents who voted for you, those who did not and those who chose not to vote at all. She has not met her obligation to be accountable to the people.
Given her obvious shortcomings, it would serve Wynn well to act with humility instead of pulling at the bricks.
It would be a significant blow to Starkville if Gregory were no longer at the helm of the GSDP. Given her record up to now, the same cannot be said for the Ward 2 alderman.
1. Ask Rufus: Coming home at Christmas LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Birney Imes: A Christmastime ramble LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Dana Milbank: Marco Rubio's fury NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Michael Gerson: A global conspiracy of health NATIONAL COLUMNS