Robbie Coblentz: Requiem for a Camp

July 1, 2009



Dan Camp has served this city as a community developer, a member of the Starkville School District Board of Education and, most recently, mayor. 


Camp''s vision that drives the Cotton District has rightly garnered national attention and acclaim. 


His administration has had some high points. Sweep accounts, the smoking ban and the $3 million bond issue for infrastructure improvements are a few of several accomplishments. At times, he has governed effectively for the betterment of the city. 


Camp also took an issue he was passionate about -- the proposed bypass location of the police station -- and rode it into city hall. Anyone who walks into the public eye to run for office deserves respect, including Camp. 


Asphalt and vetoes of Planning and Zoning commissioners will not be remembered as his term fades from memory. It is his failure to build the one structure that led him into public office that will stand out over the years. 


At the end of the day, a brilliant and driven man was unable to transition from the private to public sector in time to build what could have been a long-lasting monument to his leadership. Hopefully, his successors will take note and learn from his mistake.  




Last minute changes 


Despite leaving their posts with less than seven hours to go, the Board of Aldermen voted to wipe out the Parks Commission, turning it into an advisory board. 


Here are a few things to ponder: 


There have been two $5 million public buildings on the Starkville radar the past few years. The first -- the belabored Justice Complex -- hasn''t seen a shovel''s worth of dirt turned. The other -- the recently opened Sportsplex -- is completed and serving the city. Which group of public officials better served the city? 


Part of the 2 percent restaurant and hotel tax money that the city collects is designated for a Parks Commission. There are strict legal differences between a Parks Commission and an Advisory Parks Board. This action may have jeopardized a much needed revenue source. 


Earlier in the month Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins made a point in a meeting to protest the outgoing board''s doing anything long term during the remainder of their session. At the last meeting of the term, called on the last night, Perkins pushes this massive changes through. 


Sadly, this is just a microcosm of the last four years of city leadership. 


I hope that incoming Mayor Parker Wiseman will veto this measure as his first act in office. With their action, the outgoing board slapped their newly elected replacements in the face. What a way to welcome them to City Hall. 


Coblentz is the managing editor of StarkvilleNow. His e-mail address is [email protected]