Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Mayor Frank Melton's fainting session at Monday's county inaugural event was the latest warning he needs to heed: It is time for him to retire as mayor of Jackson. It would also be a good idea for him to return to Tyler, Texas, where his wife is an esteemed physicianpediatrician, but stillwho can look after him and help him do what he needs to doand stop doing what he shouldn'tin order to improve his health.
A long-time heavy drinker and smoker, the mayor is dangerous to himself, other police officers and the citizens of Jacksonwhether he is leading his dog, Abby, into the middle of traffic to randomly search vehicles in West Jackson (while police scramble to get there to back him up); imbibing too much liquor before strapping on guns or getting behind the wheel of his car; rushing into private homes in the middle of the night without a warrant because a neighbor said the residents sell pot; stopping a school bus on a busy interstate to get him some hugs; destroying a schizophrenic's home, confident that his enablers can help him get around anything he does; or constantly creating the stress of potential arrest or indictment by ignoring laws.
Of course, he has done all of this during a period when his health has deteriorated rapidly. He went home to Texas early this year to get a pacemaker, and he went to the hospital here right when he was supposed to be arrested for violating terms of his probation. Was that a real coincidence, or did he check himself into the hospital to avoid jail (and mugshots) as long as he could? The answer doesn't really matter. What is true is that we have a man killing himself to be a very bad mayor of Jackson, a mayor who has lied so often that the public can ask such a question without being completely tasteless.
Melton came close to taking a deal last year to resign for a quick resolution of the charges against him, but he backed out at the last minute. Then he went to court and won.
Or, did he? Melton seems to have gone right back to his 2 Carter's Grove frat-house lifestyle, and he's made no real improvements in how the city is run. (The jury is out on the new chief-sheriff, who so far has not even transferred Melton's buddy-bodyguards from their enabling posts, even as other police beats go uncovered.)
Melton needs to start caring for his own health, and that of the city, and the only real way to do that is to resign his position and go home to his family to get well.
Enough is enough.