We should ask, ‘What would Joe do?’

Published 12:31 am Sunday, October 17, 2010

Would Natchez-Adams County be better off with a few less career politicians and a few more “Joe the Plumbers?”

It’s an interesting thought.

“Joe the Plumber” was just a guy from Ohio who was thrust into the national political arena after questioning then-candidate Barack Obama about his tax policy during the 2008 presidential candidate.

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Republicans turned the plumber in a metaphor for the common-sense driven, middle class.

Although their efforts failed to woo enough presidential votes, their point was a sound one. One of the most frustrating parts of being an American is sitting by and watching our government make silly decisions.

All we need, one would think, is a little more common sense.

A few clear examples of this have made headlines in recent weeks and each is as baffling as the next.

First, how sad is it that Natchez city aldermen don’t know for sure what, exactly, is the status of the long-discussed Roth Hill riverfront site?

Twice, aldermen have formally asked for a legal opinion on whether or not they have any remaining ties to a would-be casino developer.

Good legal counsel would not require this level of badgering.

We’re not talking about researching a title. It’s a simple matter: Does the city have an existing lease, or lease option, with the group or not? It’s a yes or a no question and one that could have and should have been resolved the first time it came up — in the meeting.

Taxpayers find it frustrating to think our money is going to a group of people who simply seem inept at times.

Joe the Plumber would immediately seek new legal counsel for the city with the understanding that aldermen need and expect sound advice, delivered quickly.

Adams County isn’t immune to this lack of common sense sometimes either.

Much focus has been on Robins Lake Road and issues with the dam on the lake.

The question remains: Who actually has responsibility for the dam. The county isn’t sure, but residents who live there feel pretty clear.

If the county exercises the right to close the road when it feels the public safety is at stake, then, obviously, it’s claiming ownership — and thus responsibility — for the road and the dam. A clear decision needs to be made on this matter and logic seems to side with the residents. The county needs to take ownership in the problem.

Lastly, is anyone else bothered that taxpayer dollars are paying two suspended Natchez police officers waiting their court dates on charges of civil rights violations and conspiracy?

Now that their cases have been continued until late February each officer will receive approximately six months of pay for doing absolutely nothing.

With the starting pay for an NPD officer at approximately $24,000 per year, each officer will earn at least $12,000.

Joe the Plumber would not see the logic in this. Why pay two people — who are obviously innocent until proven guilty in a court of law — to just sit around?

Obviously, given the severity and nature of the charges, the pair should not serve in a law-enforcing capacity, but it doesn’t mean they cannot work at all.

Joe could find something for them to do to earn their pay.

The city seems to have lots of needs from cutting grass to cleaning up public properties.

Imagine what the officers could accomplish if they worked for a few weeks at the Watkins Street Cemetery or perhaps helping to clean up around blighted properties already on the city’s list?

Joe just scratches his head and wonders: Can these decisions be this difficult?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.