Aldermen miss point of complaints

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

Don&8217;t shoot the messenger. Natchez aldermen, in all their indignation Tuesday at the airing of interdepartmental grievances in the city, missed the boat.

Earlier this week, an article about delays and other problems in the city planning department highlighted what happens when something goes awry with the planning department.

Several city department heads commented on how the problems affect their work and the pending projects that haven&8217;t been approved because of delays.

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If city department heads felt strongly enough about planning department problems to speak publicly about them &8212; breaking what appears to be a real or perceived policy against such &8212; the city leaders should hear those complaints not as idle backstabbing, but rather as an alarm bell to a serious issue.

Whether or not the city leaders want to hear it, the planning delays and problems are affecting projects, the public and other city work.

Those problems should be investigated and solved.

Instead, aldermen took time to chastise other department heads for talking about the subject in public.

This is not a personal issue; it&8217;s a personnel issue.

Public boards usually have the luxury of meeting in private to discuss personnel issues, and that policy makes sense.

However, department heads have the right to talk about those problems in public, especially when those problems affect public business and public money and when department heads feel they have no other internal way to resolve them.

Not only do they have the right, as good stewards of your tax dollars they have the obligation to raise their hand publicly when they see a problem.

Mr. Mayor and members of the board of aldermen, don&8217;t shoot the messenger until you&8217;ve understood &8212; and resolved &8212; the message.