City did right thing, but for wrong reason

Published 12:23 am Thursday, November 1, 2007

The City of Natchez did the right thing late Wednesday afternoon, but for the wrong reason.

The city publicly touted plans for a private meeting to discuss crime.

Such a private meeting would have been illegal, given the nature of the discussion and assuming a quorum of aldermen was present.

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The city had a last-minute change of heart and agreed the meeting should be open to the public, but not because they realized it was a mistake to have even considered such a meeting.

Nor did they agree to the change because they realized how valuable it might be to have public input on a very public matter.

No, instead, it took this newspaper threatening them.

After strong-arming them, the city agreed to open the meeting to the public, but did so less than an hour before the meeting was scheduled.

That’s just not acceptable. At that point, the damage was done. The city successfully prevented the public from having enough time to adequately plan to attend the meeting.

All day on Wednesday, callers to City Hall were told the meeting would be private.

We suppose it’s difficult for some people to truly understand why it’s so important that government be open, its work transparent, but for us the issue is crystal clear.

The City of Natchez needs to stop fearing its own citizens and begin listening to the public — even if they are not doing it for the right reason.