Supervisors must follow law too

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This is in response to the recent “stir” about some work done on the Kingston Community Center.

Many people have read The Natchez Democrat’s article (Sunday, 7/31/11) and can see that without any doubt, something is very wrong about what occurred. I just want to point out a few things.

1. When a newly-elected supervisor takes office, that person swears before God to “faithfully support the — Constitution of the State of Mississippi, and obey the laws thereof —.” In Section 170 of that Constitution, it is made clear that no supervisor is free to make or exercise policy or spend county money without the approval by vote of a quorum of the board.

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2. Upon election, and being sworn-in, the supervisor is handed a copy of the manual titled “County Government in Mississippi.” This manual essentially covers everything the supervisor and the board attorney need to know in order to fulfill that solemn oath. In addition to direct citations of law, the manual contains important interpretive opinions of the state Supreme Court and of the Attorney General.

3. Copies of our state Constitution, which contains specific, applicable laws are also readily available to supervisors. Among their duties the board attorney and the county administrator have the responsibility of keeping supervisors from deliberately or inadvertently breaking the law.

4. Among these laws is the aforementioned, well-established, commonly-known law which forbids a supervisor from going out and “doing favors” at county expense in order to get votes, without bringing the matter to a quorum. Such a supervisor wants voters to see him as somebody who “gets things done.” Too often, the few voters who benefit do not know or much care that law and procedure have been broken; and the rest of the voters are unaware of what has happened to the detriment of the community as a whole.

5. When such a supervisor is a good politician, he can usually spin it to look as though his motive was in the public interest, rather than his intention to get re-elected. The truth, however, is that he is a lawbreaker who had done his fellow supervisors and the public a disservice. Law and procedure are designed to serve the public interest; autocracy violates the public interest and often violates individual rights as well.

6. Readers of The Democrat can see that a key figure, the board attorney, has remained silent on the legality of the Kingston Community Center repairs. I certainly do not question whether the center needed repairs, but the evidence is that it was done illegally, and certainly is tainted, causing very serious “communication problems” and a general mess; and this sort of thing has happened repeatedly.

7. I have had the unfortunate (and very expensive) experience of having been forced some three years ago, to try to work with the board of supervisors on another matter fraught with illegalities. This was a simple matter, which should have been readily and equitably resolved. Worse, those decisions were made not through error, but were deliberate and made for the wrong reasons.

8. I believe the main qualification for the office of district supervisor is right-mindedness, which Webster defines as “having a right or honest mind.” Assuming a candidate also possesses a sense of logical judgment, and good energy, the rest will follow. He or she can readily find out what laws and procedures may apply when issues arise.

9. I have come to know the individual members of the current board of supervisors through their deeds and misdeeds during the past three years, as compared to law, procedure and decorum. One member is retiring. Two other highly vocal members sorely needed to be replaced, in my opinion. Please vote carefully, keeping in mind that autocrats hurt us all.

10. Finally, a word about “the media”: the great majority of people want good, honest government, and their local newspaper wants the same thing. So when those newspapers bring forth facts exposing an autocratic politician, they do a great public service.

Lynn Wirtz

Adams County resident