City needs a plan to approve travel

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

Democracy is ugly. Like making sausage, the end result may be good but seeing the process is disgusting at times.

Armchair historians often think the Founding Fathers were a cohesive, peaceful bunch, but that’s not exactly true. Governing is not always pretty.

Some ugliness reared its head Tuesday night at the Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting over the seemingly trivial matter of travel expenses.

Email newsletter signup

Emotions raged a bit, though mostly kept in check, and tempers flared. The always-present race card was at least reached for, if not actually pulled, during the course of the debate.

Race, however, is not at the heart of the issue.

Resolving the conflict by seeking a compromise and putting a system in place to prevent a future rehash is a critical next step.

Reducing expenses and continuing to work the business of the city, which requires some occasional travel, should be a common goal for all parties involved.

Aldermen collectively need to approve all travel expenses. The current practice of giving aldermen an individual travel budget fosters the likelihood that miscommunication will occur over travel.

An open system for approving expenses is critical to good government — regardless of political bend or for heaven’s sake skin color.

Aldermen would be wise to release a bit of personal pride and power by ceding the approval process for travel expenses to the group.

Only when the aldermen begin working together on such simple things can we move ahead and focus on the end result rather than continuing to gawk in disgust at the sausage-making process.