Let sun shine on hiring of new chief

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015

After operating without a fire chief for approximately a month, Natchez city leaders expect to rekindle the discussion at tonight’s board meeting.

Resumes to apply for the position, vacant since the end of June, were due May 29, yet today, July 28, the city still doesn’t have a chief.

The issue at hand is which of the six finalists — only a few of whose names have been made public — will be selected as the new Natchez fire chief.

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Of the aldermen who have spoken out on the matter, half appear intent on hiring from within the department while the other half appear intent on hiring from outside.

Hiring a new chief would seem to be a straightforward task. Look at the resumes, interview the candidates and pick the person who would make the best leader.

But Natchez being Natchez and city government being what it is, we feel certain two factors are at play — race and entitlement.

In city government, sadly, many things tend to divide on racial lines. For years, we’ve heard residents and leaders alike suggest that we should almost alternate city department heads based on race.

The logic being, “Well, the police chief is black, so the fire chief should be white,” or something similar — it’s ridiculous. The best person should receive the position, regardless of the color of his or her skin.

In addition, the sense of entitlement needs to be eradicated from the process, too. Just because some candidates have worked at the Natchez Fire Department for a long time does not entitle them to better consideration for the position than someone from the outside.

Aldermen should avoid hiding behind closed doors to discuss the matter and make the topic what it actually is, the public’s business.

Sunshine will disinfect the matter quickly.