Article Comment 

Smith, Karriem: Give peace a chance




Six days after their brawl at City Hall, Mayor Robert Smith and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem shook hands and made up.  


While these two men did the fighting, the entire city got a black eye. That wound couldn''t begin to heal until the two dropped the simple assault charges filed against one another. 


We wish they had come to this decision a lot sooner. The hang-up between the two men centered on particulars of what actually happened. What the argument was about. Who did the cursing. Who pointed fingers. Who hit whom first. 


These matters are important to Smith and Karriem''s pride. Frankly, they aren''t important to us. 


What matters, to the city at large, is that faith is restored in our leaders'' ability to lead. We need their attention focused on city matters, not political gamesmanship or the gathering of evidence against each other for a Justice Court hearing. 


Now that we know the scuffle didn''t do serious physical harm to either party, we''re surprised the two filed charges against one another. And it appears Smith only filed charges after he read Karriem''s account of the incident in Monday''s paper -- the details of which he disagrees with. 


Whether or not Karriem''s recounting of events is factual or not, we still see Smith as the "big kid" in this schoolyard fight. He''s a veteran councilman, and the public face of the city of Columbus. He''s also the city''s first black mayor. He has the opportunity to make history. He should want to get this matter behind him as soon as possible, not prolong it. 


And Karriem, the first--term councilman who supposedly has wider political aspirations, would have scored few political points with a trip to court after filing charges against his own mayor -- especially when the biggest bruise was to his ego. 


Had dropping the charges -- clearly the only sane decision in this case -- not happened, we and the community would have lost faith in their judgment. They would have chosen their own personal interests over the public good, going to the mat over an argument about the Council''s agenda. 


Their only proper decision, at that point, would have been to resign. 


Some have suggested that they also censure, or sanction themselves. For instance, fine themselves a month''s pay -- a punishment they have approved for city workers such as the Columbus Police Department''s Vicksburg Four, who have also embarrassed the city with childish behavior. 


We think that''s a good idea, and would go a long way toward restoring their own moral authority to punish city employees. 


Smith and Karriem need to now act like the leaders we want and need them to be, and return to fighting for their constituents, instead of among themselves. 


If they can''t do that, they need to abandon their offices, and continue their schoolyard brawl out of the public eye.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment Big Ed commented at 4/7/2010 2:22:00 PM:

It is SuperBrawl 2010. Come and watch Mayor Robert Smith and Councilman Kabbir Karriem duke it out in the big ring! Trash talking about Columbus politics will be the warm-up entertainment. Then the gloves come off to see who can put the other "in their place" first. Residents are urged to avoid potholes and look out for people breaking into their cars as they make their way to the event. A reception will be held on the $2 million Riverwalk Bridge after the event.
LATE NEWS: Board of Supervisor's President Harry Sanders will be officiating. Leroy Brooks will be in both corners telling each man that "you are the greatest and I support you..."

The winner in the end will be the City of Columbus.

Suspended Columbus Police Officers will offer rides in the trunk of a cruiser through Propst Park.

A fired Columbus Fireman will be the bartender.



Article Comment M.C. commented at 4/7/2010 3:09:00 PM:

That's pretty funny, Big Ed. A heavyweight title match for Mayor. What is NOT funny is that they both have broken the law by filing false police reports and abuse of the legal process for their own personal, political agendas. Now who has the gumption to prosecute those charges? The City of Columbus still deserves to know the facts and the truth about what happened. Putting Councilman Gene Taylor under oath and obtaining phone records under subpoena may be the only way to uncover the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


Article Comment gogetum commented at 4/7/2010 3:50:00 PM:

Excellent point, M.C. I agree 100%. We do need to know the facts. That Gene Taylor guy is the Mayor's right hand man so don't know how credible his testimony would be. The other councilman, probably Stewart, who was on the phone with K will never speak up just as he usually is at the meetings. There's probably no lawyer in Columbus who would even whisper the false police reports in court. But, wouldn't that be up to the Chief or assistant Chief to press charges on that account? Probably neither of them have it in them to do that. We can't trust any of these folks from now on as far as I'm concerned.


Article Comment TG commented at 4/7/2010 3:55:00 PM:

Do any Sunshine Laws apply here?


Article Comment jim commented at 4/7/2010 10:05:00 PM:

Whooped Karriam should be-man a re-match. Oh that's right he'll get one in 3 years.


Article Comment Jackie Wolf commented at 4/8/2010 2:49:00 AM:

I would not have been surprised if this had happened between two supervisors, but two city leaders? Smith can kiss any re-election good-bye.


Article Comment walter commented at 4/8/2010 2:46:00 PM:

The instant editorial from The Dispatch is a very well-considered and written expression of a path leading to healing and closing the book on the unfortunate incident that exposed my beloved hometown to ridicule and shame across the nation. While I have come to admire the institution more and more each day, the editorial today gives me great encouragement that, despite the many detractors and fanners of discord and division, who periodically post here, elected leaders will put the mater behind them, grow from their mistakes and re-double their sincere efforts to make the best decisions, they think possible, for Columbus and Lowndes County. There are always silver-linings in every misstep. If you didn't find one in your own personal misstep, it doesn't mean that it isn't or wasn't there, only that you weren't diligent in seeking it. Or, perhaps, you were incapable for recognizing it for what it was.

I still feel that Mayor Smith and Councilman Karriem are supremely qualified for their respective positions. I am thoroughly convinced that of the people residing in Columbus, Lowndes County--and I know practicularly each and everyone of you, black, white, rich or poor--no one is more dedicated, honest, courageous, independent and committed to the people of the area than those two STILL HONORABLE men. Columbus is really fortunate to have elected leaders of their calibre at the helm of government at this critical juncture in the history of Columbus and the nation. A little less criticism from sore-losers and those who would wish to divide and conquer and a little more support and sharing of ideas to benefit the general population and the mayor, council, and supervisors working with state and national representatives for the area can establish Columbus, Lowndes County and the entire Golden Triangle as a model zone and exhibition of what a 21st Century area such as that, can actually be. The Tenn-Tom offers untapped opportunities beyond one's wildest imagination! End the diversion, division and destructive attitudes toward one another--black, white, rich, poor, illiterate and educated--and harness what God has so abundantly blessed you with and you will become the envy of not only others throughout the rest of the state, but the genuine envy of the entire nation. Mayor Smith has the courage and integrity to help push us there. Support him with what you have, especially your prayers. When others deried him, simply ask yourselves why are they doing it. The answer will come to you with very limited effort on your part.

The incident has occurred. Let us relegate it to the pages of history, along with the other sordid historical events that have occurred in the History of Lowndes County and Columbus, pre-modern era.

I met a young fellow who once thought with all his heart and soul that he wanted to be an attorney. Meeting him again, after he has acquired wisdom, he told me that it wasn't an attorney that he desired so greatly. Instead, we wanted to be a tool, directed by God and used to bring various factions together. To do so, whether, or maybe because of his tumble, he felt that he was exposed to everything that he needed in order to accomplish what he honestly believed to be God's purpose for him. In the process, he also found serenity beyond is more precious than gold or fame.


Article Comment Nita commented at 4/9/2010 3:59:00 PM:

Jack, you wrote 'Smith can kiss the next election bye'. Well I think they can both kiss their politcial careers good bye.


Article Comment really? commented at 4/16/2010 9:59:00 PM:

walter. There are a whole bunch of supremely qualified folks who are now in jail for less than what these two did. Many have been fined mega bucks for way less too. Recent example--MSU basketball coach, 30K for no criminal act whatsoever.


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