A FROWN FOR CITY OF MERIDIAN GOVERNMENT: The city of Meridian is facing a $126 million bill to fix its sewer system, revenue has fallen short by $667,000, the city has less than two months left in its financial reserves, a state auditor is investigating the parks and recreation department, streets need repair, crime reports have residents afraid … and, yet, city council meetings routinely devolves into accusations, arguments and power struggles.
Ward 5 Councilman Weston Lindemann has been leading the charge in crying corruption as he challenges Mayor Percy Bland and Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister. Lindemann has the vocal support of city government critics. Unfortunately, the serious accusations being made are anecdotal and often lack verified documentation.
Bland and McAlister, meanwhile, chastise Lindemann and admonish him not to interfere with the administration of the city and to follow the chain of command when pursuing answers to his questions. Words are exchanged and the crowd cheers.
We admire Lindemann’s gumption and we appreciate Bland’s and McAlister’s need for orderly direction of the city.
The solution lies in open government. The councilman has a right to review payroll and other city records and he should be given access as promptly as possible. Delays only encourage the notion of at best cronyism and at worst criminal wrongdoing.
For his part, the councilman should holster the urge to make allegations public until he’s certain he has the facts to support them. Statements from disgruntled former employees may point to potential problems that need to be researched, but they are not objective.
What city taxpayers deserve is attention to the litany of pressing city problems without a daily soap opera.
A CROWN TO LOVE OUT LOUD: At least 30 different churches and more than 800 individuals fanned out over Lauderdale County during the week to serve meals, provide medical attention, hand out clothing and volunteer in countless other ways, all making the community a better place.
The volunteer spirit is rooted in a Christian mission. Coordinator Wade Phillips, an associate pastor at Northcrest Baptist Church, told correspondent Thomas King the idea grew from a question his church asked six years ago, “If we closed our doors tomorrow, would anyone notice?”
We think that’s a great question we all might ask ourselves periodically as inspiration to serve our community. If any one of us weren’t here tomorrow, would anyone notice?
A CROWN AND A WELCOME TO REV. AUGUSTINE PALIMATTAM: The new pastor of the Catholic Community of Meridian, serving St. Patrick and St. Joseph churches, earned a reputation at his previous parishes of Holy Cross and Sacred Heart in Philadelphia of growing the congregation in numbers and faith.
With an ecumenical spirit, vibrant personality and love for God, he built relationships with area clergy and people of many faiths.
As he told The Star’s Devna Bose: “If there are any kind of barriers, we can forgo those in the name of love and friendship. Different denominations should not be an obstacle to serve our God.”
That’s a thought worth remembering whether the discussion is about religion, politics, race or any other topic that might divide us.
A CROWN AND A WELCOME TO LAUDERDALE COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT JOHN-MARK CAIN: He addressed his first school board meeting on Thursday, noting he had walked “just about about every square foot we have” and was having conversations with everyone about wants and needs.
We think his approach of walking and talking is the right one as he contemplates a list of wants that we imagine as already grown quite long.
A CROWN TO THE CREATIVE CLASS: Four filmmakers — Michael Williams of West Point, Jake Mardis of Starkville, Miles Doleac of Hattiesburg and Josh Walton of Meridian — and their crews were busy around Meridian this week creating 10-minute films for the Flash Film Festival at The Temple Theater on Sunday. Kudos to veteran actor and teacher Elliot Street for organizing the fest and encouraging the artists to hone their skills in the Queen City.
Over at Meridian Little Theatre, “Mystery At Rose Hill Cemetery," produced by The Rose Hill Company, is another worthy artistic endeavor, allowing actors to express themselves while also opening a window into Meridian’s past.