City leaders must earn respect

Published 3:22 pm Sunday, April 15, 2007

I have carefully weighed the comments that I wish to make this morning and I trust they will be accepted in the spirit that I offer them. I am reminded of the passage in Ecclesiastes where Solomon wrote “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

With that in mind, I first want to say that I believe the board meeting in which our Building Inspector, Paul Dawes, was called on the carpet should have been handled in the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Executive Session.

And, Mr. Mayor, I believe it would have been in order for you to drop your gavel and refer the matter to your executive session when Alderman Ricky Gray brought this matter before the board. But that is my personal opinion.

Email newsletter signup

In Tuesday’s board meeting, Alderman Gray said, in reference to his previous motion about Mr. Dawes, that he would let the process of evaluating department heads take place. I think this was the right thing to do for all department heads and not to single out one person.

When I attend board meetings and there is a personnel matter, the person’s name is never mentioned as a PIN number is always used, and of course the matter is referred to executive session. What dictates the separation of an employee and a department head?

Another issue is that of respect. Everyone has the right to respect, whether we agree with them or not. Respect, as one person put it recently, is earned. I like what Alderman David Massey said when he addressed respect by saying “ how a person is treated is how they react.”

Also, respect is somewhat double-edged in my opinion. While some members of the board expect respect as an elected official, it should likewise be the same for your constituents, those who elected you. When questions are asked, letters written, phone calls made, meeting attendance required, then that person expects the respect of a reply. I know for a fact that some of you make it a point to return every phone call you get. You may not satisfy that person but at least you acknowledge their requests.

When I attended your post-election party, Mr. Mayor, I told you that you could make history in two ways, one being the first African-American to be Mayor and second to bring unity in race relations in our community. I know you have tried but you can’t do it all. I also remember in one board meeting that Alderman Gray said in so many words he would like to see race not be a part of your meetings. I still hear innuendos and references made that give one the idea that this situation will not go away. But it should.

I want to personally thank our department heads. They are professional and courteous and I think they represent our city honorably. Thank you.

Jim Sanders

Natchez resident