Yet Another Recessed Meeting: The Throwing Their Rocks And Hiding Their Hands Edition
Last night, I attended yet another recessed meeting that was held by the Lumberton Board of Alderpersons. I arrived a few minutes late and the board was already in executive session. I don't know about you, but it seems that once I started posting videos of the meeting, the board had found more reasons to go into executive session; whether it's legal or ethical. Well, one of the reasons I started taping segments of the meetings was to avoid accusations that I was "twisting their words." Needless to say, there's a few that insist I am not accurately reporting what's taking place at the board meetings; namely Cora Rogers, but you've seen the video, there's no need for me to add to the statements made by the alderwoman at large. The only thing I regret is the fact that I wasn't recording when a concerned citizens, who was seemingly still grappling with the fact that she was brutally attacked, pleaded with the board to keep a full police department because the Lumberton Police Department saved her life and Alderwoman at Large, Rogers only response was "why did you let the person in your house?" Wait a minute, that's not fully correct. When Cora Rogers tried to justify the butchering of the Lumberton Police Department, she suggested that the citizens of Lumberton form a Neighborhood Watch group. If memory serves me correctly, wasn't that the mindset in Sanford, Florida that led Neighborhood Watch participant, George Zimmerman viciously murder Trayvonn Martin. Perhaps that incident happened too long and too far away to be equated with the possible dangers of not having police protection in the City of Lumberton. Well, what about Oliver Griffin? This young man was shot down by a security officer in the parking lot of Park Haven Apartments in Hattiesburg, MS back in April of this year. As a matter of fact, the security officer was so overzealous in trying to police the scene of the crime that he refused to allow the family members close enough to the body to try and revive the victim. Crime is rampant everywhere and the fact that WDAM announced on the news that the City of Lumberton is operating without a fully staffed police department was like putting up a flashing neon sign at the entrances of the city saying "CRIMINALS WELCOME!" I know I have gone off on another tangent so let me try to focus on what happened at last nights' board meeting.
The agenda said the board went into executive session to discuss litigation. Again, I would like to say that as the number recorded meeting increase, the more the board stays in executive session. For the record, all the alderpersons, with the exception of Alderman Quincy Rogers, was in attendance. Alderman Rogers is still on bed rest and we ask that you pray for his recovery. After the board returned to the public arena, where business is supposed to be conducted, Winston instructed the city clerk to announce what actions took place in executive session. The board accepted the bid from Waste Pro for garbage collection. They will begin collecting trash on August 1, 2014. There seems to be some matters in the contract that needs to be addressed and they are sending the contract to the city attorney for review. This means that some time between now and August 1, 2014, the board will have to schedule another meeting regarding the contract. The mayor and board said that outsourcing our garbage collection will save the City of Lumberton money, but nothing was said about what will happen to our current garbage crew. Will their jobs be cut or will they remain as employees of the Public Works Department? If the latter is true, how is that a cost effective move for the City of Lumberton. The board voted to outsource garbage collection but unless they're cutting/terminating those that currently collecting our trash, it's not a savings to the city. As a matter of fact, it will double the money that's being spent. I don't want anyone to loose their jobs but this board is making these broad slashes and moves that are supposed to help the city but I truly don't believe they actually thought of any of the ramifications of their decisions before implementing their plans to save the city. Ironically, their plans are seemingly destroying the city rather than building it up. Another point that has not been addressed is the actual cost of outsourcing our garbage collection. Waste Pro put in the lowest bid at $10.88/per unit, but is that a fee per week or per month. If that is a weekly fee, the price citizens pay for garbage collection is going to skyrocket. But the board has made this decision based on the fact that they don't want to purchase another garbage truck; despite the fact that several aldermen and the public works director continue to say the WSOM department has enough money. The board continues to paint the city and its employees in a corner, I'm going to sit back and see how they justify keeping employees that are being replaced by Waste Pro when they couldn't/wouldn't attempt to keep a full staff of police officers for the safety of the officers and the City of Lumberton.
While I'm on the subject of the police department, I need to share another thought I had regarding Winston's push to get rid of the police department. Time and time again, Rigel has said that Lamar County cannot assist the City of Lumberton. As a result, our officers are left to fend for themselves and in emergency cases, may have to wait for county back up before being able to respond to a call. The City of Lumberton is strangely position; there there parts of Lumberton that are in Lamar County and parts of Lumberton that are in Pearl River County. Winston has reached out the the Lamar County Board of Supervisors and the Lamar County Sheriff's office but has he tried to contact Pearl River to see if there's any assistance that could be provided to the areas in their jurisdiction? Another thing, I find it sad that Winston served four years as the District 2 Supervisor in Lamar County and he has not made any viable connections with anyone on the county level that he could reach out to to gain support in his endeavors to get rid of the Lumberton Police Department. I know it's easy for me to sit back and want to be upset with Ben Winston, but he was not able to butcher the Lumberton Police force without the approval of the board of alderpersons (Jay McGraw, Kent Crider, Tommy Dukes and Cora Rogers). There's a litany of adjectives I could use to describe Kent Crider but in all honesty, dumb would never be one I would use to describe his ability to understand the ramifications of the votes they cast as board members. This is not Kent's first time and the rodeo and he knows what's legal and what's not but for some reason, he has chosen to disregard his oath of office and just go with the flow. I know he has the wherewithal to make better decisions but he just refuse to do so. Now, I don't know if I can say that of the ones sitting at the opposite end of the podium. Tommy the Dummy and Cora the Explorer just refuse to learn the duties and responsibilities of their job. Now, I try to refrain from using these caricatures when referring to our elected officials but every time Tommy is in the seat, I know we're headed for a crash and somebody's going to be thrown through a windshield. Cora has spent so much time around children that she think the citizens of Lumberton are childlike and cannot understand the process of budgets, police protection and integrity. On the contrary, a lot of the people in the audience know more about the functions of city government that those that begged to get voted into office. So, instead of trying to belittle those that have suggestions/ideas, start trying to surround yourselves with informed people and perhaps the city can start accessing and developing the potential that continues to lie dormant in the City of Lumberton. Just a suggestion. Unfortunately, these suggestions generally fall on deaf ears. In my opinion, I think the board is targeting the police department in the hopes that our chief and community based officers will just quit so the board can then bring in a lawless redneck that will push the lines of police protection, harass residents of certain communities and turn the city into a place of anxiety like it was when Hobson was doing all the board approved dirty work. Only time will tell.
The city clerk reported that the city received a check from the tax assessor's office in the amount of $27,287. The board then voted to pay all bill that were 90 days overdue and the board also voted to pay Mississippi Power $10,000 of the $25,000 owed; Tommy Dukes was the only one to vote against the payment to Mississippi Power. At this point during the meeting, Danny Davis informed the city clerk that part of the bill was to be paid from the WSOM account. It seems that this is probably one of the reasons the general fund is so low. According to the actions displayed last night, it seems that our city clerk may be paying ALL of the bills from the general fund instead of deducting the appropriate amount from each department. Included in the payments, was a $6,000 payment for the airport. Just as I said, the City of Lumberton is paying all this money for the airport but we're getting a whopping $350/month from those profiting from the enormous investments paid by the taxpayers of Lumberton. Why is the board so hell bent on funding this airport? Are there drug drops at the airport? That could be another reason why the board is so eager to rid the city of police protection. I don't know why we're continuing to invest in the money pit, better known as the Lumberton Airport.
As the meeting was closing, it was discovered that the board went back on their promise to give up either their salary or insurance in an effort to save the city money. The board claimed that everyone was giving up something to help the budget for the City of Lumberton but that is untrue. Well, Mayor Winston and Alderman Dukes never gave up their salary or insurance, but other's gave up either one or the other. I guess at some point, probably during one of their executive session budget planning meetings, a decision was made to keep their salaries and insurance. Please keep in mind, Alderman Quincy Rogers gave up his insurance years ago. As I stated before, the members of the board is giving us lip service and their hearts are far from the well being, security, protection and growth of the City of Lumberton. There's all this talk that everyone must tighten their belts but it seems that the only cuts that are being made are in the police department. Overall, Lumberton is a great community. We look out for one another, we support local business, there are a community of neighbors that genuinely care about one another. Unfortunately, the worse of Lumberton is represented by our Mayor and Board of Aldermen.