December 28, 2013 8:24:51 PM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
Now that Christmas is behind us, our thoughts naturally turn to the New Year and what it might hold.
I have highly resolved to quit smoking for years now. To date, I have not managed to follow through on that.
In fact, while I haven't made New Year's resolutions every year, I can think of only one resolution that I actually kept. That rare instance came in 2005, when I resolved to lose weight. At that time, I weighed 212 pounds, a personal high.
So the day before New Year's I went out and bought bathroom scales.
And on Jan. 1, 2005, I began to walk. I had driven a three-mile course around my neighborhood. Every evening, I walked that three miles.
After the first day of walking, I stepped on the scales only to discover that I had actually gained a pound. Life isn't fair.
Soon, however, the weight began to come off. After a couple of days, I stepped on the scales and discovered I had dropped a pound. That was all I needed. Increased mileage and a gym membership followed.
In the meantime, I had developed my own low-carb diet. Essentially, I lived off boneless, skinless chicken breasts and steamed vegetables. The only carbs I consumed were from fruit.
I cannot say that it wasn't a challenge, especially the new diet.
You know how some men dream of swimsuit models? I dreamed of swimsuit models holding baked potatoes and French bread.
But it worked. Four months later, I was down to 179 pounds. I hadn't weighed 179 pounds since Reagan's first term.
In the past couple of years, I have managed to put back on most of that weight, sadly. So if I were to make a resolution, that would be a good one.
However, there is something very selfish about New Year's resolutions, when you think about it. It's all "me, me, me."
So this year, I have decided instead of making resolutions for myself, I'll make resolutions for other people. Truth is, they need it more than I do.
For Governor Phil Bryant, I resolve that he will expand Medicaid. I know this will be difficult for him, for he despises anything that comes from the Obama administration. But if Mississippi is going to make any progress, if we are going to crawl our way out of the bottom of the barrel, expanding Medicaid is a necessary evil, if it is an evil at all.
To date, Bryant has dismissed the call for Medicaid expansion with a flippant "we can't afford it."
But that is a fallacy easily exposed since the federal government will provide all of the funding for the first three years of expansion and 90 percent of the funding in year four. It's the best bargain in health care for a state that has the highest poverty rate in the nation and can scarcely afford to care for its poor under the current situation.
Closer to home, I have resolved that the mayor and city council will dump J5/Broaddus as its project manager. This new position was created earlier this year and the council signed J5/Broaddus to a one-year contract. Clearly, this was an obvious act of political patronage, a way to award J5/Broaddus owner Jabari Edwards for his services to Mayor Robert Smith. Edwards served as his campaign manager.
The city approved the move without public hearing and never made the case in explaining how J5/Broaddus would help the city in any meaningful way. In creating the new position, the mayor and council simply added another level of bureaucracy. Let the one-year contract expire and turn the page. There are better uses of limited city resources.
For the citizens of Columbus, I resolve that each of you will attend city council meetings. An informed, vocal citizenry is essential to the health and prosperity of any community. Let's start small. How about four meetings a year? You can choose which council meetings to attend by going to the city's website and looking at the council agenda. Certainly, there will be agenda items that you have a personal stake in.
For the Columbus Municipal School District, I resolve that Aubra Turner, whose term is up in February, ask to serve another term and that the council approve that request. Turner has been a courageous voice on the board and her presence has been a catalyst in transforming the board from a rubber-stamp committee that provided no oversight of district business into a board that exerted its authority over a superintendent who seriously damaged the district's standing and reputation.
The board should then turn its attention to finding a permanent superintendent to lead the district out of its current miserable state. We expect the board to assemble candidates based on their skills and hold public hearing where those candidates can make their cases to parents, kids, teachers, staff and regular citizens. We expect a thorough, fair and open search. That will be a departure from past searches, we realize.
The beauty of all these resolutions is that each of them is easy to achieve. Each will have a direct, positive impact, too.
If I can lose 33 pounds, these resolutions should be a snap.
Our state and community will be healthier for it.
Those are resolutions worth keeping.
Slim Smith is The Dispatch's managing editor. Email reaches him at [email protected]
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]