Vacancies prove Natchez needs half-time speech

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Will the last department head leaving please turn out the lights at the Natchez City Hall?

OK, perhaps that’s a bit harsh. Things are not that bad &045;&045; at least not yet.

However, with Monday’s resignation by Natchez City Planner David Preziosi, the city is in dire need of some motivation.

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Preziosi’s departure makes the fourth city department head to leave in less than two months. The city is already searching for replacements for the city police chief, fire chief and veterans services coordinator.

And, that’s not to mention a long-time city employee whose responsibilities and experience will be difficult to replace &045;&045; the mayor’s secretary, Delores Vines.

While it is easy to chalk up all of the departures to simple coincidences and a few unusual offers of advancement deemed too good to pass up, we fear it signals a deeper problem.

The city team that once garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, renovated nearly every old vacant public building in town and won national acclaim has lost its cohesiveness. To use a sports analogy, the individual players still have talent, but they’ve lost the team goal.

Continuing the sports theme, the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen is the coaching staff. Right now, with four players out for the season, it’s time for one of the coaches to step and throw a half-time fit.

Expectations are set by leaders, and leaders step it up a notch when the chips are down. Well, the chips are obviously down, the clock is ticking and the fans &045;&045; or in this case the taxpayers &045;&045; are waiting for the fourth-quarter rally.

In the immortal words of famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi:

&uot;Having the capacity to lead is not enough. The leader must be willing to use it.&uot;