First Tuesdays: Night of the Living Dead

Picture It: Lumberton, 2015 (in my Sophia Patrillo from the Golden Girls voice). A group from Hollywood decides to remake the movie Night of the Living Dead and they want to use Lumberton as the setting. Locals are hired and sets are in place in the empty industrial park. All of a sudden, a train derails and an ominous green gas exudes from the containers on the train. Residents are encouraged to remain inside as a thunderstorm begins to loom over the city but it's the first Tuesday of the month and there's a board meeting. During the meeting, people start receiving texts and strange posts on Facebook claiming zombies are roaming the streets and headed towards city hall. As the zombies stagger past Family Dollar, citizens can hear the collective moans. Brains. Brains. Brains. Yes, the zombies are after brains. The citizens begin to panic and quickly exit the building. As the zombies enter through the front of city hall, citizens are getting in their cars. Some look as the zombies look in the board room to see our elected officials and a couple of department heads. The zombies are still on their quest for brains but they don't bother stopping because none was detected. The zombies continue out the back door, in an effort to catch a citizen. Just as one presses his face against my window, I feel a touch on my right arm and the person sitting next to me tells me I dozed off. As I comppse myself from the realistic dream to hear a motion from the board and I wonder if I'm still dreaming.

Like the zombies, many of the citizens are wondering where's the brains? Despite the guidelines of the Mississippi Public Records Act, public records are locked away from citizens. We have a city attorney that says he can research case laws better than anyone else in the room but we're going into our second month waiting on a recommendation about the installation of speed bumps in the Pecan Ridge apartment complex. We sit through board meeting moderated by a mayor that, lets say, have a problem anunciating certain wordsvand numbers. For example, it's ask not ax, four not fo and it's common to hear hundid instead of hundred. If I get into the decision making process, or should I say the we only need three votes process, I would be blogging all day. There's no wonder people are often perplexed about this blog because at times truth is stranger than fiction.

One of the agenda items approved at the recent board meeting was the purchase of 14-16 security cameras for $700. After posting the video, someone said that seemed rather cheap and then wondered if they were going to get them professionally installed or coax a city worker into installing them. I informed the reader that it's probably tne latter. I told tne reader that I felt it was cheap as well. Just two years ago, my aunt in Chicago purchased 6 security cameras for $1,500 and that didn't include installation. Her cameras are 16 channel cameras with a DVR recording system that can store three weeks of video feeds but I guess you get what you pay for. I imagine that before it's all said and done, it's going to be like buying a live chicken in Guardularah. At first, the low price seems like a good deal but then you have to pay to have the head cut off, then there's a fee to pluck the chicken, a fee to cut up the chicken and a fee to wrap up the chicken. Before you know it, you've spent $600 for a chicken. But why am I going on about these cameras because Lola wants them and we all know, whatever Lola wants, Lola gets; well, from this board anyway. In the meantime, I need to stop watching old episodes of Designing Women because that's where I heard that live chicken from Guardularah analogy.

Another staple of this board is their constant claims that we don't have enough money for police protection. Amazingly, they have enkugh money to train and retrain the city clerk. I think the last training cost $1,800-2,000. I would have an accurate figure but I haven't beem granted access to the minute books but they don't have enough money for police protection. Just last month, the board approved payment of $3,000 for BBI to perform the work that the clerk was trained to complete but they don't have enough money for police protection. There was $14,500 paid to complete work at the airport but they don't have enough money for police protection. Again, forgive me if the numbers are not completely accurate since I can't get access to the public records. The board wants to give a collection agency a percentage to collect uncollected fines and there's over $900,000 in uncollected fines. Even if the agency is given 10%, that would be $90,000 the City of Lumberton will loose when they could purchase the software program and let tne court clerk work 40/week instead of 20 and the collections will pay for the software program and the court clerk's salary. But they don't have enough money for police protection. Juxt a few months ago, they wanted to pay $5,000 to secure the services of John Shavers and don't forget about the $1,600 paid to Richard Rose to prepare the budget. But they don't have enough money for police protection. Right now, the board is trying to secure a $250,000 loan to obtain a sewer grant but they don't have enough money for police protection. I'm all for improving the sewer system because it's needed but good plumbing will not attract residents but a good school and a good police department are paramount if this city plans on recovering. Since announcing they have no money, they've basically spent $21,100 in one department. I didn't include the precentage of the fines and sewer grant because that's still optional. I also didn't include the WSOM purchases because that department sustains itself and if they get into a crunch, they can always raise the water rates...AGAIN.

I don't know what it's going to take to turn this city around. For a brief moment, I actually considered voting for Ben for Supervisor just to get him out of city hall but I think that's his plan. I think he wants to do such a bad job in Lumberton with the hope that people will be so disgusted that they will vote for him so he can leave Lumberton alone...AGAIN. There's a budget workshop on May 12, 2015, I guess we'll see where we stand and see if the board finally starts to invest in the most neglected but most essential department, the Lumberton Police. Please be safe this weekend and don't hesitate to call 911. Hopefully, we'll get some relief before Summer.

Comments

  1. When adding up the costs I forgot to add that the board hired two grass cutters (5 months) at $8.50/hour getting 40/week. The estimated cost is $16,500 depending on number of months working but the board does not have enough money for police protection and the grass is not getting cut at certain cemeteries.

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