Democrat is doing its job covering the city

Published 12:03 am Friday, July 30, 2010

If the only thing standing in the way of Natchez’s experiencing industrial development is The Democrat’s efforts to promote fiscal responsibility in city government, as Mayor Jake Middleton implies, our town should soon be in great shape.

I look forward to the arrival of those new industries.

Middleton and Alderman Dan Dillard showed how thin-skinned they are when they complained about the newspaper’s reporting at this week’s board meeting.

According to The Democrat’s coverage, Middleton and Dillard fret that business people considering re-locating to Natchez will be turned off by the paper’s carping about the board’s annual practice of borrowing money to make ends meet.

In doing so, they join a long and undistinguished line of elected officials who choose to blame the messenger rather than examine their own actions.

My guess is that a bigger turnoff to businesses would be the disgraceful conditions of our city streets — those the state and federal governments haven’t yet paid to overlay. Or perhaps they might be concerned with the recurring battles about whether we are or are not serious about city planning. They might even wonder what signal is being sent by the embarrassing condition of the bluff side of the city-owned depot (soon to be made more prominent by the walking trail).

In every community, people grouse about their local newspaper, whether it is the New York Times or The Democrat.

As a former journalist, I have my own quibbles about the newspaper. But when it tries to understand how the city (and the county) has spent its federal stimulus money and helps the public understand the board of aldermen’s budgeting practices, it is doing its best and doing the right thing.

Dillard is wrong that The Democrat damages its credibility by trying to hold government accountable for what it does.

As a resident, a taxpayer and a reader, I’d much rather see the local newspaper being a thorn in the side of the elected officials than worrying about everyone getting along.

Bill Furlow

Natchez resident