Lumberton: Not Political Reality, Media Reality but the REAL Reality
I was always warned about media bias and it is typical for any Republican to blame the liberal media for outlining their shortcomings but Sunday’s edition of the Hattiesburg American contained more fluff than a bag of freshly spun cotton candy. During the campaign, I realized that Haskel Burns was biased in his reports; especially when I noticed he placed on candidate’s picture first on every article posted about the special election. I shrugged it off and figured it was much ado about nothing but when I say Kent Crider’s photo on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Hattiesburg American, I knew it was nothing but pure propaganda; especially since it was announced days ago that the Lumberton School was targeted for closure if SB2498 passes. Reluctantly, I read the fluff piece and it was probably the most self-aggrandizing (the act or practice of enhancing or exaggerating one’s own importance , power or reputation.) In other words, pure propaganda. It is my belief that the purpose of the story was to create a perception that their actions are always ethical and honorable while anything posted in the Lumberton Informer is unethical and dishonorable. Thankfully, there are people that can read with comprehension.
Pictured above are some photos of Lumberton, without the fluff. The center and bottom picture are where the new Louisiana style restaurant is supposed to open. The Hattiesburg American referred to is as the Bad to the Bone location but the owners, or should I say renters, changes as frequently as Lumberton mayors. Once the weather clears, I will drive around and post a video of the main entrances into Lumberton so those that no longer live here can see that it’s not the utopia Crider claimed in Sunday’s article. But there’s other issues that were not addressed in the “All Hail Crider: Lumberton’s Great White Hope” article. Well, I guess he has the complexion for the connection because I don’t recall any other Mayor of Lumberton making the front page of the Hattiesburg American. Unfortunately, most of the information contained in the article contradicted reality. Personally, I thought there would be a story about the pending closure of the Lumberton School with Dr. Linda Smith standing at the top of the hill with the school in her background but they opted for a fluff piece instead. They even managed to get Paul “The Parasite” Ockmond to declare that Kent Crider as the leader Lumberton needed. I found it odd that he said Lumberton was lacking leadership especially when his friend and former business partner, Ben Winston, ran for mayor at his behest. I guess that token was only good for one ride and now Paul is expressing the pride many feel because they have a white mayor. It seems that they also managed to get the Lumberton Election Commissioner, Linda Knight Martin, to declare that she’s a staunch supporter of Crider. I thought she was supposed to remain impartial to ensure a fair election but I guess she couldn’t contain her joy and decided to speak out in support of Crider. As I read their comments, I swear I heard “I wish I was in Dixie…” playing in the background. Maybe it was just my imagination?
Before I address the other questionable elements of the article, I want to go on record and say I was surprised that Crider didn’t mention the start date of the $2.5 million dollar Army Corp of Engineer grant. When he was running for mayor, he said that the grant “would not go through” unless he was elected mayor. Well, he was elected Mayor of Lumberton. One would think that would be mentioned in an article that focused on more campaign promises instead of actual accomplishments. Also, Crider has taken credit for the opening of the rebar facility and the Louisiana restaurant but just a few weeks ago, Kathleen Bogle wrote that these projects were in the works prior to the election. Crider also made the claim that there are two businesses that are planning on expanding. However, he was smart enough not to mention their names because when June comes around, the tentative month of expansion, he can deny what he said. Crider said that Ramey’s was also planning an expansion but when I talked to the owner of Ramey’s he said he was apprehensive about investing $500,000 in a renovation because he didn’t know if he would earn his money back and this was prior to the announcement of the pending closure of our school system. I’m almost certain that there won’t be any renovations at the Lumberton Ramey’s until there’s some clarity about what’s going to happen to the school. There was also a claim that for the first time in six years, Lumberton was able to pay all of its bills. Bullshhhhhh!
How was Lumberton able to pay all of its bills when the same article stated that there was a need to update its bookkeeping??? If Lumberton paid all of its bills it’s because they’re robbing Peter (WSOM) to pay Paul (general fund). Keep in mind that Crider has been on the board for 6 years prior to becoming mayor but now he’s decided to go line by line with Merlene Wall to make sure the numbers are right. If I’m not mistaken, those numbers are the same now as they were when he was alderman but he apparently wasn’t looking over the information but I think he voted in the affirmative every time there was a vote on the claims docket. Also, Crider said he’s going over the past audits to ensure they’re in compliance with state code. Again, these are audits he voted on as alderman albeit they haven’t had a budget workshop or audit since Crider voted to terminate Stephanie Mullings. As a matter of fact, it was reported that the 2013, 2014, and 2015 audits could not be completed because of missing information. Interesting. These are the years Merlene Wall are responsible for. There was also talk about how Johnny Buckley was going to be an asset to the board and there were claims that the board is working together; that’s yet to be seen. When Ben Winston was mayor, there was a voting block that always voted together and when Miriam Holder was mayor, there was a voting block that included Kent Crider, Timothy Johnson and Bobby Gibson and their primary goal was to literally block Mayor Holder. So forgive me if I don’t believe the hype that the board is ready to work together because they have a secure voting block but as Paul “The Parasite” Ockmond proclaimed, “(Crider) has the business knowledge and the experience and he’s been on the board long enough that he should have the contacts needed to bring the city forward.” We shall see! FYI. The citizens of Lumberton will know without a doubt that the elected officials are truly working together to move the City of Lumberton forward when there’s a unanimously favorable vote for every agenda item dealing with the claims docket but that would require a knowledgeable clerk that presents accurate information. So much for moving forward.