August 14, 2012 9:57:15 AM
A month after the Columbus City Council demonstrated how not to make a key appointment, the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors have the opportunity to do it the right way.
In early July, the Columbus City Council chose to fill its vacancy on the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau through a motion process in which only one of the two applicants was given consideration. Ward 5 councilman Kabir Karriem made a motion to appoint Starkville restaurant manager Bernard Buckhalter to the CVB board and Buckhalter was chosen by a 4-2 vote. The other candidate, Glen Baldwin -- despite owning two Columbus restaurants -- was never given an opportunity to make his case for the position.
The process, while perfectly legal, opened the Council up to criticism that Buckhalter's selection was little more than cronyism. That Baldwin wasn't even provided the opportunity to place his credentials before the council -- and the public -- violates our sense of fair play.
Now, the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors will have an opportunity to demonstrate the fair way to make the appointment after the resignation of George Swales in late July.
We urge the Supervisors to fill the position by nomination rather than a motion. In the nomination process, any number of candidates could be nominated for the position. We further recommend that each nominee be given an opportunity to make his or her case before the Board in a public hearing. We feel that all qualified candidates deserve a public hearing on the basis that the position for which they are being considered is of great public interest.
Ideally, the vote would come at the following meeting, giving the public time to weigh in on the choices.
CVB appointments are not trivial matters; this is not some group that decides what paintings should be hung on the offices of city hall.
This year, the CVB has a budget of $1.6 million, all of it taxpayer money. Given the CVB's well-documented lapses in credibility, it is important for the public to know that the people who are entrusted with those funds to promote the city and county are the most qualified people for the job.
So let's have a fair, open and thorough examination of the candidates - all of the candidates.
In doing that, the county will have succeeded where the city has failed miserably.