Not even their own rules apply?
Our city leaders are smart enough to know that our public schools desperately need the support of everyone in our community.
Well, at least two of them are.
Ward 1 Alderman Charles “Mickey” O’Reilly, Ward 4 Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. and Mayor McArthur Straughter on Monday denied Ward 2 Alderman Jack Varner the right to appoint a representative from Ward 2 to the city school board. Their action not only defied logic, it also appears to have violated their own ordinance.
In an effort to prevent this type of petty politics to deprive some citizens of representation on city boards and committees, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen recently amended the ordinance to create a level playing field.
Part of the section dealing with appointments to boards reads, “Every multiple of each board, commission or authority, shall include one appointee from each of the four wards and one at large member.”
Every single member of the current board voted for this amendment to the ordinance.
On Monday, O’Reilly repeatedly argued that the board voting to appoint Herman Leach, a resident of Ward 1, to the school board was considered the at-large appointment, but I doubt that he really believes that. The at-large member should be a representative for the entire city, but you don’t need an at-large member until all of the wards are represented. Ward 2 is now the only ward without a representative.
Leach has strong credentials and may do a great job with the board. It’s not who was appointed that is the problem, but the fact that three of our elected officials can somehow justify depriving the citizens of Ward 2 of a representative on the board.
This seems especially foolish at a time when our schools want and need community support. I’ve written in previous editorials that it’s critical that all Yazooans support our public schools system.
Demanding the best for the children of our community is something that I believe we are morally obligated to do. We have a duty to see that the next generation has access to a quality education and all the opportunities that it creates for them.
It’s obviously important for our youth, but better schools improve the quality of life for us all. A struggling school system is a tremendous obstacle when it comes to attracting new industry. Who wants to bring their business to a community where their workers don’t want to send their kids to the local public schools and they can’t count on a future quality workforce?
One school school board member isn’t going to make or break the district, but depriving an entire ward of representation is just another step in the wrong direction. I was especially disappointed to see that Brent, a recently retired veteran educator couldn’t see that.
Ward 3 Alderman Clifton Jones and Varner rarely see eye-to-eye, but Jones was vocal in his opposition to allowing the other members of the board to hijack Varner’s appointment.
Jones’ stance was commendable because he wasn’t just sticking up for Varner or the residents of Ward 2. He was sticking up for all Yazooans because all of us have a stake in the success of our public schools.
He was also trying to get his peers to follow their own rules, but sometimes it seems like our city leaders don’t think the rules apply to them.
Not even the ones they made.