Letter to the Editor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Crenshaw ‘smoke’ fails to hide town’s usual politics

First, allow me to express my appreciation for your taking the time and expense to cover our town board meeting each month. Presence of the press at any governmental meeting acts as a beacon of light in an often otherwise dimly-lit room.

There is no clearer example of that than here in Crenshaw. Your articles covering our board meeting last Tuesday, July 17,  clearly showed your ability to not be confused by smoke but rather see through to the facts. This was especially true of the latter part of the meeting that was mishandled by the board and allowed to run amuck.

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Everyone has the right to take a complaint concerning a public employee to the proper agency in a proper manner. Three citizens of Crenshaw attempted that by putting their grievances into writing and making the mayor and at least some of the aldermen aware of them days beforehand and requesting to bring those grievances before the board.

The proper procedure, after being made aware of a formal complaint against an employee, would usually be for any municipal board at their  meeting to go into “executive session” for a personnel matter as allowed by statute to discuss the complaint.

Unfortunately, that was not what happened Tuesday night. What took place was that three citizens were put upon by our mayor to air their grievances, including embarrassing statements,  in an open forum before their fellow citizens. This was most unfair not only to them and the employee but to the audience.

It was especially unfair for him to try and silence said employee from responding.

Any of the six elected officials or the city attorney should not have allowed that to happen; but of those seven I feel the mayor bears the brunt of the responsibility in this particular instance.

Why? First, because he chairs the meeting and if past experience has taught us nothing else, we’ve learned he enjoys ruling. And often with an iron hand. He’s never hesitated to display any method he saw fit to dress down or reign in anyone at a board meeting even if it meant badgering a fellow elected official.

Second, this administration was so infamous for its frequent use of the “executive session” exemption that it took objections from The Panolian plus a letter from an attorney retained by Crenshaw citizens to stop the abuses.

But third, and most important, is that he had met with all three of these citizens days beforehand and was (or should have been) fully aware of their complaints. All he had to do was add them to the already scheduled “executive session” on Tuesday’s agenda. That could have been easily done and would have been proper.

But no, that was not the case here. What we saw was another example of the depths this administration can stoop to when it so desires.

The Spinmaster seated upon his throne smiling may have enjoyed that show as it unfolded before him Tuesday night; but rest assured that in the light of the new day that followed there are many of us who see all too clearly what really took place and why.

 /s/Bob Bryant