Are We In a Parallel Universe?

I know I have an active imagination. As a result, I think differently than most; posing questions where others see no problem. While thinking about all the chaos going on in Lumberton, where right is wrong, wrong is right and having knowledge is a threat not an asset. For a moment, I had a flashback to one of my favorite cartoons and remembered some of my favorite episodes when The Justice League had to fight The Justice Lords. For those of you that are not fans of DC Comics, the Justice Lords are an alternate Justice League from a parallel Earth whose roster resembles the original DC animated universe Justice League—an alternate Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman—with the exception of The Flash, because the Flash from their universe is dead. As a child, I was a fan of this series but as I look back at what happened, a lot of their storyline mirrors what's happening in Lumberton. The Justice Lords seize the world's governments, ruling with an iron fist. Using their satellite base for surveillance, they suppress free speech, outlaw elections, and impose their own set of rules. Although they justify their behavior as "temporary" and for the good of the people, it is tyranny to the Justice League. Sounds familiar. In Lumberton, there's an attempt to limit free speech, citizens are being marginalized, input from citizens has been relegated to 2 minutes at the end of the meeting and city officials interpert laws for their advantage. When I was a child, fascinated by this cartoon, I never thought I would see it play out in real life, minus the super powers.

As I stated, there's no super powers that led to the decay of this city and the attack on its citizens; that came from years of bad decisions and low voter participation. Sadly, most of the people in office or serving in public positions are not willing to learn; they seem to think they have all the answers as they cast the City of Lumberton further over the fiscal cliff, making it harder to recover. Another problem is reading with comprehension. Most board members are either not reading the guidelines governing a code charter municipality or do not comprehend the information. Below is an excerpt from Mississippi Annotated Code 25-61-1. Please read it carefully because a short quiz will follow.

(1) (a) Except as otherwise provided by Sections 25-61-9 and 25-61-11, all public records are hereby declared to be public property, and any person shall have the right to inspect, copy or mechanically reproduce or obtain a reproduction of any public record of a public body in accordance with reasonable written procedures adopted by the public body concerning the cost, time, place and method of access, and public notice of the procedures shall be given by the public body, or, if a public body has not adopted written procedures, the right to inspect, copy or mechanically reproduce or obtain a reproduction of a public record of the public body shall be provided within one (1) working day after a written request for a public record is made. No public body shall adopt procedures which will authorize the public body to produce or deny production of a public record later than seven (7) working days from the date of the receipt of the request for the production of the record.

(2) If any public record contains material which is not exempted under this chapter, the public agency shall redact the exempted and make the nonexempted material available for examination. Such public agency shall be entitled to charge a reasonable fee for the redaction of any exempted material, not to exceed the agency's actual cost.

(3) Denial by a public body of a request for access to or copies of public records under this chapter shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the specific exemption relied upon by the public body for the denial. Each public body shall maintain a file of all denials of requests for public records. Public bodies shall be required to preserve such denials on file for not less than three (3) years from the date such denials are made. This file shall be made available for inspection or copying or both during regular office hours to any person upon written request.

Now for the quiz.

1. Who has the right to inspect, copy or mechanically reproduce or obtain a reproduction of any public record of a public body? (A) anyone (B) anyone the city clerk likes (C) we need to ask the city attorney

2. How many days should it take for public record of the public body to be provided after a written request for a public record is made? (A) 1 (B) whenever the clerk decides (C) ask the Attorney General

3. How should a citizen be notified that their reqest for access to copies of public records under this chapter has been denied? (A) in writing (B) over the speakerphone (C) the board need to do more research

If all of your answers were (A) Congratulations, you're more astute than most of those sitting in the big black chairs every first Tuesday of the month. If you answered (B) or (C) on any of the questions you may qualify to serve as Mayor, Board of Alderperson, city clerk or deputy clerk in the City of Lumberton. LBVS. Board meeting starts at 6:00 pm.

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