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Frivolous complaints are wasteful

The Mississippi Ethics Commission reprimanded the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen in a preliminary recommendation this week in response to a complaint filed by a citizen.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen also, however, was vindicated in two other complaints filed by citizens.

In a case filed by Roy F. King III, the preliminary recommendation report by a hearing officer, said the city failed to provide requested documents, including a copy of a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that was later tabled.

The city also failed to provide in a timely manner written explanations for why it could not produce other requested documents, which did not actually exist and therefore was not required to produce.

Another complaint filed by J.T. Robinson said the city did not allow him to speak at a meeting, but the commission’s investigation revealed Robinson had indeed been provided opportunities to speak. The time he was denied, however, was because had not followed proper procedures.

The third case, filed by Louisiana Attorney and Natchez resident Paul Benoist had a laundry list of complaints against the city including allegations that the city was not maintaining meeting minutes in a timely manner, that the city’s website was not updated in a timely manner, that agendas were too thin, that board members were conducting inappropriate business in executive session and that board members were voting on matters outside of open meetings. The Ethics Commission ruled that it has no jurisdiction over meeting minutes and that Benoist’s other allegations were not supported by evidence and therefore were dismissed.

We are all for holding government officials accountable and for having them do business in the open and above board. This newspaper, in fact, has challenged the city and won when they had breeched the rules.

We hope the city will strive to correct the issues that led to King not getting the information he wanted and written responses in a timely manner and will learn from this latest reprimand.

We, too, however, caution citizens who might feel the board is not following the laws to make sure they understand the laws before filing complaints that are without merit and therefore wasting taxpayers’ resources.