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City needs a new rudder

Published 5:00am Sunday, April 29, 2012

In two days the first round of the Natchez mayor’s office fight should be over.

Conventional wisdom is that with three relatively well-known candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, a runoff is likely.

If that happens, round No. 1.5 will occur before round No. 2 in June, when the Republican and independent candidates join in.

But first, Natchez residents will have to choose between two former mayors — Larry L. “Butch” Brown and Phillip “Bucket” West — and the incumbent, Jake Middleton.

When you cut through the campaign promises and mud-slinging and get down to the nitty gritty of what citizens really need a mayor to do, things begin to clear up a bit.

Natchez needs a mayor who loves it enough to make tough decisions and get the city back on the right track, a mayor who is coach, CEO, drill sergeant and dad all at once.

That’s a rare combination.

The secret is to know which role to fill at any given time and realize that a team cannot win solely because of a good coach. The team needs talented players and good game plan to execute.

Middleton has been criticized for simply being too nice, too worried about offending anyone. That’s what apparently fuels his tolerance for letting the aldermen run city meetings. It’s been clear that since that void of leadership has appeared, aldermen have taken advantage of the mayor’s “niceness” and walked all over him. He’s vowed to stop that if he’s elected to another four years, but his promise is too little, too late.

Middleton is a nice guy, but he’s in the wrong seat. His nature is to not want to offend anyone and thus progress moves extremely slowly, if at all.

Phillip West is just the opposite.

He doesn’t care who he offends. He simply reacts and makes things happen on his own agenda and will spin anything into a public battle if he feels doing so will help his cause.

He’s shoots first and asks questions later. That’s a dangerous thing to have in a leadership role. If department heads in the city are somewhat demotivated in the current administration, it seems they were scared to death under West. The revolving door at the city planner’s office was a good example of this.

Butch Brown is either the prodigal son or the devil himself, depending on who you ask. For many his name hearkens back to a time when the city was, indeed, great. His administration was, perhaps, the last time the city felt a true sense of pride and accomplishment.

Brown is criticized for tons of projects that costs lots of money — most of which he’d argue came from state and federal sources. But at the same time the criticism is lobbed, even political foes say, “I don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have that convention center.”

Natchez is different than it was when Brown last sat in the head chair at City Hall. Many people suggest Brown’s reputation at the state level is tarnished by his antics when he was head of the state’s transportation department.

But none of that matters if he simply does the job of running the city and doesn’t meddle in economic development matters or issues outside the basics of being mayor.

Clearly, two things have changed for the better since Brown left City Hall in 2000. Our community has finally got its act together on economic development matters, and we’re starting to think and work regionally.

If he’s elected — and it’s certainly not a shoo-in — the community’s biggest challenge may be in keeping Brown from disrupting Natchez Inc. or offending our regional neighbors.

I pray enough private businesses are involved in both efforts so that neither group will stand for it and will hold him in check.

Clearly, however, his leadership skills are badly needed in a city that feels rudderless at the moment.

 

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

  • Anonymous

    BUTCH does not remind me of a time of greatness-exactly the opposite.  ntz died on the vine with him as mayor.  what industrial jobs did he help secure??  i cant think of any.  but he sure enriched himself

  • Anonymous

    According to his accountant he actually lost money by devoting his time to improving Natchez and not to his own businesses. He has always put Natchez first. If Natchez prospers, everybody prospers, starting with with his own marketing and advertising skills. In the history of Natchez we’ve had visits by members of the President’s cabinet three times, all during Brown’s tenure. We had more MDOT meetings in the last ten years than in the previous 50 years including a national convention of road administrators. It’s all about putting Natchez on the map. Natchez first. Not  Natchez following, like in the last 12 years.   

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    City folks please don’t elect Butch Brown Mayor for mayor or we will all be in the poor house and soup lines??!!!!!!

  • Sullivan Lawson

    Butch is CLEARLY the best man for the job and has never cost the citizens of Adams county or Natchez a penny.  He is a marketing and “get it done” genious.   Either you are reading some false and diceiving information (likely distributed by Midddleton), or either you are blind or dumb.  All you have to do is open your eyes and look around.  The idiots around here never cease to amaze me.  Or, maybe I’ve become too old and dumb (but that’s doubtful!).   Wake up people!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Yea’ Wake up Natchez for everyone knows of the Butch Brown leading the pack to build a civic center when the casinos said they would build but no the city had to go to debt and build their own and also the public restroom as well that created a mountain of debt that the city will be paying for years to come!!! Yea” you are a idiot that must be blind and dumb are living in Vidalia not paying city tax in Natchez Huh”??!! Just ask anyone that pays city tax in Natchez I’m sure they will inform you of your mental lose of this information!!!!

    In a message dated 4/29/2012 6:56:02 P.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    Sullivan Lawson wrote, in response to khakirat:
    Butch is CLEARLY the best man for the job and has never cost the citizens of Adams county or Natchez a penny. He is a marketing and “get it done” genious. Either you are reading some false and diceiving information (likely distributed by Midddleton), or either you are blind or dumb. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around. The idiots around here never cease to amaze me. Or, maybe I’ve become too old and dumb (but that’s doubtful!). Wake up people!

    _Link to comment_
    (http://disq.us/6xgim9?imp=5768cc74-8510-4c21-aa4e-893ab53c42ea&thread=668712035&zone=email_notification&event=shortener_click)

  • Anonymous

    huh?????????????

  • Anonymous

    Not sure if this qualifies as coherent English.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Yea” but the meat of the message is what counts “Huh??!!!

    In a message dated 4/30/2012 5:32:44 A.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    niderbip wrote, in response to khakirat:
    Not sure if this qualifies as English.

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/6y6odc?imp=3aa25007-185f-4783-a1b2-e1002742ad6d&thread=668712035&zone=email_notification&event=shortener_click)

  • Anonymous

    THAT WAS A DUMB MOVE YOU MADE POSTING YOUR COMMENT AND CLOSING IT DOWN SO WE COULDN’T POST OUR COMMENT ON THE ARTICLE: “NATCHEZ HIGH TO BEGIN STATE TEST TUESDAY” I WANTED TO POST A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR COMMENT. IF YOU WANT ME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THAT SINCERE ABOUT NATCHEZ HIGHT, WELL, THAT’S SOMETHING THAT WILL NEVER WALK BY ME.  

  • Anonymous

    ANYONE CAN PLACE A ARTICLE IN THE ND SAYING ONE THING, AND TURN RIGHT AROUND AND POST A COMMENT SAYING ANOTHER. PEOPLES THAT’S ALWAYS TRYING TO GET OTHERS TO BELIEVE IN THEM, ARE NO MORE THAN A PHONY. 

  • Anonymous

    DD……CANYOUPLEASEPOSTYOURCOMMENTSINENGLISHANDUPPERANDLOWERTEXT?

  • Anonymous

    THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WHEN A “MAN” STANDS BEHINDS HIS FEELINGS; IF HE HATE BLACK PEOPLE, JUST SAY SO; THAT SNAKE-IN-THE-GRASS WILL ONLY LAST SO LONG.  

  • Anonymous

    Can’t quit playing the race card can we???? Buddy, it’s 2012!!!!  Not 1812!  Oportunities are there for who ever regardless of color it they want it this day and time… Actually, blacks stand a better chance than Mr./ Mrs. White Citizen….  You, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farakhan need to load up into a rocket and blast off into outta space and take your hate with you….

  • Anonymous

    MOVE!!!  Take your hateful, racist ways with you!!!! Good ridence!

  • Anonymous

    English DD, English, pppplllleeeaaasssseeeeeeee !!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com Kevin Cooper

    Dave,

    I’m sorry that you continue to feel I’m not genuine in what I write or in judgments related to comments. I don’t know what else to do to explain this to you beyond several e-mails we have exchanged and public comments here.

    I shut the comment thread down on the schools testing article because two people had already started accusing local school children and their teachers of cheating on tests that hadn’t been taken yet. That’s ridiculous and childish thing to say.

    I added my comment on the page as an explanation of why the thread offered no ability to comment. When we don’t do that, people start asking questions and reading things into the decision that often isn’t there. So I explained our actions.

    Thanks.
    Kevin.

  • Anonymous

    WHEN YOU SPEAK ABOUT ( BASHING ) YOU ARE THE BIGGEST BASHER IN THE COMMENT AREA; IT’S NO SECRET YOU APPEAR IN MANY DIFFERENT USER I.D. NO TWO PEOPLE THINK ALIKE. CALL YOURSELF PROTECTING THE HIGH SCHOOL, WHEN YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS. YOU ARE THE BIGGEST RACE-DIVIDER IN THIS COMMUNITY; YOU USE “PART” OF YOUR BUSINESS TO PROMOTE YOUR AGENDA. THAT LOUD MUSIC; SAGGING PANTS; MR. WEST; MRS ARCENEAUX-MATHIS ARE WEARING YOU THIN.. BY THE WAY; ALL OF THE ABOVE IS NO MORE THAN MY OPINION.  

  • Anonymous

    THE  REASON I SIGNED UP FOR POSTING COMMENTS; WAS THE 24/7 BASHING OF BLACK PEOPLE.  

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com Kevin Cooper

    Dave,

    You have every right to your own opinion. However, you’re incorrect in your beliefs about me. Trying to convince you otherwise appears futile, so I won’t. It baffles me that cutting off negative comments on a seemingly positive news article about school testing can be read as you have done.

    Our newspaper has more to gain from operating in a community that gets along with one another and moves towards the future, than by operating in a community in which residents constantly fight.

    Thanks.
    Kevin.

  • Anonymous

    Dave seems upset.

  • Anonymous

    if you also remember, he thought the city should supply him a mercedes as a city car,, mercury marquis wasn’t good enough,   and hasn’t he been fired from his last job,,,, twice!!

  • Anonymous

    if you also remember, he thought the city should supply him a mercedes as a city car,, mercury marquis wasn’t good enough,   and hasn’t he been fired from his last job,,,, twice!!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, you elicited a secondary comment from 007 whom it seems never reads the feedback he receives on his inane posts.  This is almost as good as winning the election!