• 55°

Judicial system keeps city in check

Citizens of Natchez should be thankful the judicial system will force the city to do what’s right, even if city’s leadership refuses.

Last week Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell ruled that the City of Natchez had to overturn its decision to sell the former Natchez General Hospital building to a would-be developer.

The problem, as the judge accurately saw, was that the city’s leadership failed to follow its own rules set forth in the original request for proposals to find a new use for the antiquated and vacant structure.

Fortunately a group of citizens took the city to task and filed a lawsuit to right the clear wrong.

The City of Natchez, potentially receiving poor, unsound legal advice from its city attorney Bob Latham, has repeatedly pushed the limits of common sense and the law.

In this case, the city effectively abandoned the rules to show favoritism to a single developer that failed to meet the minimums set out by the city. Clearly that isn’t fair or legal.

Likewise the city has abused the exemptions by which the public can be excluded from meetings and let’s not forget the utter mess the city caused by canceling its garbage contract and then failing to obtain a new one until it was way past the point of legally accomplishing that.

As in many other cases in the past, the lawsuit shows the city’s leadership needs to keep its eye on the ball, focus on what’s good and legal and always keep the public involved and at the table.

When government tries to be secretive and bend the rules, the public loses — at least until a judge gets involved.