Council: Be Responsible

Over the last several weeks, we've watched several Jackson City Council members act irresponsibly—and probably for blatantly political purposes. This needs to end.

First Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Weill made a big deal out of a report by a Millsaps College professor and students that supposedly revealed that the Jackson Police Department has too many civilian positions that could simply be cut out, thus saving money to put toward more police officers. However, as everyone from Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. to Sheriff Malcolm McMillin has pointed out since the report's hasty release, it was incomplete (and very short) and compared apples to oranges. Why? Because JPD has essential civilian employees (such as dispatchers) on the payroll. Yes, you can move them from the JPD budget, but that doesn't mean it will save the city a dime.

As his "patronage" interview on a local conservative blog showed, Weill clearly was trying to score easy political points against Johnson, but the ploy backfired, leaving him looking silly for pushing such an incomplete "study." Meantime, a real study of positions is needed, and Weill needs to be civil and join the rest of the Council and the mayor in making it happen.

Then, last week, the JFP broke the news online that three members of the Council Budget Committee—Chokwe Lumumba of Ward 1; Kenneth Stokes of Ward 3; and Tony Yarber of Ward 6—had voted to give every city employee a $1,000 raise. Beyond the idiocy of a blanket raise regardless of merit, this move would have cost the city $2.5 million, and forced the elimination of jobs, cutbacks of JATRAN and so on. Those three council members have the smarts to know this was a really bad idea—but we suspect it was yet another political move. They likely knew it would never fly, but asked for the raise to score points with city workers. Meantime, it created more work for a mayor already under the gun to present a workable budget.

It was a really bad, irresponsible move—much like Jeff Weill's report scheme. It was a waste of the city's, and the taxpayers', time.

Then there is the whole effort to name the Northside Library after the late Jackson Advocate publisher Charles Tisdale.

To his credit, Lumumba helped slow down the frenzy several weeks ago, but now Stokes and Bluntson are pushing hard to get the city to reject library rules that libraries should be named after authors, and get the library named after the controversial and racially divisive Tisdale, whose newspaper is now personally attacking detractors of their plan for the library.

The City Council should not bow to political posturing and bullying; neither should its members stoop to it themselves.


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