December 30, 2010 6:51:00 PM
In recent days, I have been thinking about our "Friendly City" and considering our progress and collective problems. Moreover, we have lately through the leadership of the Mayor and City Council made significant progress in clearing dilapidated houses throughout the city. However, while removing these eyesores is a positive, we have some significant problems festering.
First, there is a revenue shortfall. As many governments are discovering throughout the nation, a recessed economy reduces revenue. Columbus'' problem is worse and can be expected to worsen since most of all new industrial business is locating in the county. Thus, we must find ways which allow for revenue sharing.
Specifically, Columbus as the seat of Lowndes County must not be allowed to "die on the vine." Rather, revenue sharing between the county of Lowndes and City of Columbus needs to happen. This is not a novel idea since it''s happening all over America as a financial necessity resulting from changing demographics.
Second, another problem we must solve is the hiring of personnel at the highest level of administration in the city. While the city is overwhelming African-American, the key department heads, i.e., Chief Operations Officer, City Planner, and Police Chief remain white even as the political terms of those elected to hire employees have changed at least once. Never let it be thought or said that we should hire persons solely based on race as opposed to qualifications, however, I am certain there are qualified African-Americans to fill these positions.
Thirdly, we must examine the city authorities, boards and commissions and look at who is holding these seats. In the words of former President Andrew Jackson, "to the victor belongs the spoils." Clearly all commissions, boards and authorities should be at least half African-American and half white.
Lastly, we must re-evaluate the racial make-up of the Columbus City School Board and the administration of the Columbus City Schools. It is important to remember many have died so that African-Americans will have the right to participate in governing themselves as opposed to plantation government where the slave owner makes the decisions for us. Columbus is the only or one of the few urban areas in Mississippi with a majority African-American student population with a white superintendent.
I think of the late Medgar Evers and Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer who gave their lives so we might have the opportunity to lead ourselves as opposed to being locked out of the halls of government. Some of the attorneys for our boards and commissions should be African-American. It''s just that simple. Columbus let''s make some progress in 2011 by changing the guard of appointed leaders. If our elected leaders will not do the job, then we shall elect new leaders.