Aldermen need to lead by letting go

Published 11:53 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Natchez aldermen seem to have become slightly confused by their role in city government.

As we understand it, the role of the aldermen is to legislate matters — make laws — and appropriate funds.

Instead, some aldermen seem convinced they’re better at the executive role of government and perhaps the judicial as well.

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More than a year after the city’s tourism department effectively ran into a ditch at the very start of what should have been Natchez’s finest tourism hour, the relationship between the city and the city’s tourism arm is still nebulous.

This week, alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis and her sidekick alderman Billie Joe Frazier both raised concerns of a contract under discussion between the City of Natchez and the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission.

They both cited the “debacle” last year, and it was just that — the city’s tourism director was fired and the city aldermen sought the resignations of the entire tourism commission.

But the pair of aldermen failed to remember that the debacle was caused in no small part to confusion over who had authority over the city’s tourism operation and unclear communications between tourism leaders and the then mayor.

That led to big problems.

The contract under discussion is aimed at the very heart of trying to avoid such a problem in the future by clearly defining roles of the city and of the tourism commission.

Hesitancy by some aldermen to cede a slight bit of control in tourism is only the most recent example in which they cannot hire or appoint people and give them the authority and responsibility to complete their work.

Instead, aldermen always want to have a hand in things and unfortunately, that hand often is at the root of problems.