New year must be one of accountability

Published 12:03am Sunday, January 1, 2012

One word clearly dominated the year just closed — flooded.

The Mississippi River flooded and voters flooded to the polls to make changes in local leadership.

So what will the word for 2012 be some 365 days from now? Let’s hope the word is accountability.

That word will be applicable to some of the biggest issues likely facing our community in the next 12 months.

Here are a few things that should be on the community’s “top priority” list.

Keen-eyed and sharp-witted readers will have a few more to add, I expect. If so, please drop me a line and share.

First, all eyes will be on the city elections soon. Although many people are all in a dither about who will be sitting in the mayor’s seat, the real power rests in the six other chairs in the room, each belonging to an alderman.

Look for some surprises there and, hopefully, some folks who can stand up and make tough decisions — in a calm, constructive manner.

During the city elections, accountability will be a constant thought on the minds of smart voters. Each of them should ask themselves: Is candidate X actually doing a good job? Has he or she really done anything other than keep a chair warm during meetings and collect a paycheck.

Voters — as evidenced by the recent county elections — are losing patience for politicians who look the part, but don’t play the part of a leader.

A prime example of that is the city’s lingering issue with the proposed Roth Hill Casino complex. The absolute baffling thing is: why are we dealing with these folks?

No one — perhaps the mayor excluded — seems to know all of the developers’ plans, their backgrounds or the source of their investment capital or even exactly what they plan to invest in the community.

Our city already has one half-developed casino site with financial issues just south of the bridge.

Why on earth did the city potentially lock up its only remaining riverfront site in a sketchy deal that may hold the site hostage for 99 years?

Even members of the board of aldermen question the legality of the so-called lease.

Getting an independent, third-party’s opinion, rather than the opinion of the lawyer, who drafted the lease, is key.

A reader last week suggested that if the city’s elected officials were really being open and honest representatives of Natchez residents, they’d put the Roth Hill Casino on the city ballot as an up or down referendum.

Doing so wouldn’t really cost anything and it would give everyone a chance to voice his or her opinion on the crucial matter. Who better than to help determine the fate of the city’s most beautiful spot on the river than the taxpayers who own it? It would be awful if a few politicians signed away a lifetime of ownership for something that the majority of residents did not want in the first place.

Other issues of accountability will likely come with the city and county budget again in the fall. Both entities will probably be mulling the T-word unless spending cuts are made or more services consolidated.

Finally, we all better hope for success in the effort to wrestle the ownership of our only railroad spur from the current ownership. Clearly, with a current rate structure that is approximately three times that of comparable lines, the railroad is hurting our economic prospects. And the owner — like our local elected folks — must be held accountable in 2012.

Happy New Year, and thank you for reading us.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

 

  • Anonymous

    Had it not bin for the core of engineers the roths hill bank of the river would by now be washed all the way to the bottom of the bluff. Pray tell me if i have missed anything that the city or county has done to restore it .And i have looked at it for well over 55 years. BY all means if someone is crazy enough to put anything down there let them do it. Anything is better than what we have now.

  • Anonymous

    Calm and constructive are words that have never bin used to describe a meeting of over 2 city or county officials on record here in adams county.

  • Anonymous

    I believe a lot of voters are accepting the fact that it is important to take the time to vote. Your vote counts, so make it a habit to be at the polls each and every time your vote is needed. Natchez will never change if the mind is set on the old adage, “My vote won’t be counted, so I don’t even bother.” That is a terrible excuse for not taking advantage of your greatest liberty and it’s the reason our country is in the shape it’s in. .

  • Anonymous

    Yep, them damn ole Natchez Indians deciding to settle on the outside bend of a major river!  Bright side, at least it was on high ground.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    No taxpayers property as that of county or city should never be wrote for a 99yr. lease for thats stupid!! Yes I think the taxpayers should vote on deals as this for I bet the city folks wished they had for the convention center for they have a debt that they will there for years to come if they ever get it paid ??!!

  • Anonymous

    I know you must be right because the last leasees for the last 400 yrs never built  nothing down there except a few shacks even before the river changed its course and took 2 thirds of natchez under the hill roths hill and leonards mill over time. How did the city become the owner of land under roths hill. ?? How did the biglanes become the owers of the land south of the natchez landing.??? I remember when noone would claim ownership of either. Just sitting here thinking of the past.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    D.A. Biglane started buying it from individuals the Silver St. Hill(or what was left of Natchez Under the Hill) the old woodyard lumber mill and I guess this was in the 70′s. The City of Natchez owns Roth hill because this was going to Capt. Prince ferry that went to Vidalia and back to Natchez before the first Ms. bridge was built. Learned Hill to the north is owned by Mr. Howard Peabody. In the 1800′s Under the Hill Natchez was where the well to do people lived and the poor people lived on top the hill. Also, Natchez Uner the Hill was much larger for it went into the now river and when the Ms. river changed its course it took a large portion of the town. I think it was great Mr. Biglane had the resourses to improve the Natchez under the Hill for it was falling down!!

    In a message dated 1/2/2012 3:15:36 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    sickem wrote, in response to khakirat:
    I know you must be right because the last leasees for the last 400 yrs never built nothing down there except a few shacks even before the river changed its course and took 2 thirds of natchez under the hill roths hill and leonards mill over time. How did the city become the owner of land under roths hill. ?? How did the biglanes become the owers of the land south of the
    natchez landing.??? I remember when noone would claim ownership of either.
    Just sitting here thinking of the past.

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/4tgqop)

  • Anonymous

    I know which plots and buildings he bought. Yes it was in (or started in 71) I didnt ask about those buildings or the old box plant . I was interested in the land south of the natchez landing (river to rrtraks to bridge ( The old horse race track) At one time around 1971 the NPD needed to know who owned it and after much research was told No one knows. On the top of the hill is where the rich people lived and very few of them would have bin caught dead under it unless they owned one of the buisinesses down there.

  • Anonymous

    The small plot owned by the ferry is now about 250 ft. out in the river.  In about 1970 the last house left under roth hill was vacated at the time there was only one other and it was falling down. They were just north of the big cicamore tree against the buff on the topmost street and the onlyone left ( this area didnt belong to the city and is now part of the project) It could have bin gotten for taxes i dont know.  There are many mysteries between the old rr ferry north for about the first 2 miles.

  • Anonymous

    Little Mexico?

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Sorry I don’t but a wild guess might be the late Dr. Steckler for he owned a lot of the property behind the old Ramada??!!

    In a message dated 1/3/2012 2:49:26 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    sickem wrote, in response to khakirat:
    I know which plots and buildings he bought. Yes it was in (or started in 71) I didnt ask about those buildings or the old box plant . I was interested in the land south of the natchez landing (river to rrtraks to bridge ( The old horse race track) At one time around 1971 the NPD needed to know who owned it and after much research was told No one knows. On the top of the hill is where the rich people lived and very few of them would have bin caught dead under it unless they owned one of the buisinesses down there.
    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/4tnpj8)

  • Anonymous

    10 posts, 4 posters. Where did everybody go? Talk amongst yourselves.

    Adieu.

Paul