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Lynn Spruill: Wynn-dy City Blues

 

Lynn Spruill

 

 

As a frequent recipient of Alderman Wynn's unwavering disapproval, I am inclined to pay closer attention than most to her comments at the board table on any given Tuesday. Much like my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Brooks, you never know when you might hear your name called. 

 

You are almost always guaranteed at each meeting to witness praise or ridicule or self-promotion or temper tantrums or all of the above. Regularly the department heads play the role of contestants on The Price is Right as they "come on down" to the front of the board room when Ms. Wynn beckons. 

 

If nothing else, she enjoys showboating and spending copious amounts of board time doing so. A fact not lost on her fellow aldermen. Ms. Wynn excels at fomenting the riptide current of ill will. 

 

This board got a bit spoiled in the early years when they were using the consent agenda to dispense with routine items. Alderman Perkins recently decided a consent agenda is not in the best interest of his constituents and meetings have gotten longer, to the irritation of other board members. 

 

At the last meeting in June, some members of the board responded to the long meetings by just getting up and leaving. Alderman Carver exited first, unusual since it is not deer season; then Alderman Little departed. Alderman Wynn looked around and decided it was a protest statement she just couldn't pass up, so she hit the road as well. 

 

When the Mayor noticed that the north end of the table had exited, he requested that the remaining members stay. If another alderman departed there would not be a quorum and the city could not conduct its required business. They stayed; the actions taken went contrary to the Wynn rule of law and the fun began. 

 

Earlier at that meeting, the police department was offered some free office space while the remodel of their old/new space was being completed. Ms. Wynn apparently believed there was an ulterior motive or perhaps she believed the space was cursed by the current owner (me). For whatever reason, she led the charge and a majority of the board voted against it. 

 

Three members voting against the space were among those who prematurely left the meeting, leaving the rest to vote on some additional temporary space. With that vote, the original motion was revisited and subsequently approved; proving once again that when the board is in session all things are possible. 

 

That contributed to the first meeting in July becoming a rousing mathematics lesson. In an attempt to call out the alderman from Ward 6 for his part in making the meetings longer but without saying his name, Ms. Wynn discovered that adding numbers under pressure wasn't as easy as it seemed. We did learn that 3 + 3 = 6 but she did hesitate on what other options make 6 finally settling for 5 + 1. 

 

At the same meeting, Wynn's personal abuse extended to taking her fellow board member and normally an ally, Alderman Vaughn, to task for remaining at the previous meeting to do his sworn duty. She schooled him on how to leave a meeting thereby denying a quorum for legitimate city business. She said she would "grab her purse" and "run out of the room" so the board couldn't function if the meeting wasn't going her way. 

 

Having a platform or bully pulpit from which to draw attention to substantive, positive changes is a great thing. Having the same opportunity and using it to showboat or to abuse your peers isn't good government or even good politics. 

 

Over the course of the past three years, there has been no alderman left unscathed from the personal attacks of Alderman Wynn. Her fellow board members have maintained decorum and have not responded no matter the provocation. It has been a lesson in civility and restraint. 

 

There is no inoculation against the Alderprincess virus. Like the flu it must be endured until it runs its course. I am hoping that might be around July of next year.  

 

Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]

 

 

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