Both city and county leaders have approved the potential new director of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Following the approval by both governing boards, the commission will continue its direction of looking to hire candidate Greg Shaffer for the position that has remained vacant since former director Sedric Hudson resigned last June.
According to Senate Bill 3031, “all appointments or selection of all employees shall be made only with the concurrence of the governing authorities and board.” Shaffer’s name was presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors last week, with each board approving the commission’s recommendation.
However, there was a disagreement amongst the city council about the hiring process. Although Alderman Sir Johnathan Rucker said he does not have any objections with the commission’s recommendation, he said he was unaware of any names prior to last Monday’s city council meeting.
“We were not made aware of any hiring,” Rucker said. “There are a lot of lies, a lot of manipulation that people do to fabricate things. I want to speak on behalf of myself, I know a name never came before this board...”
But Mayor Diane Delaware said Rucker is confused, and a name had been presented to the board.
“I don’t know how rumors were started in the streets, but I made the announcement of who that person was in this meeting,” Delaware said. “You may or may not have been here.”
Alderman Ron Johnson continued by agreeing with the mayor’s statement that a name had been brought before the city council.
Delaware also submitted a letter to the aldermen following the city council meeting stating that she received a letter from the commission and shared Shaffer’s name with the board during its previous meeting in December.
“I must state again, while Alderman Rucker stated that the name of the candidate had not been shared with the board that is simply an untrue statement,” Delaware said, in the email. “And again, it was the responsibility of the (Parks and Recreation Commission) to gain approval from the Yazoo City Board of Mayor and Aldermen; not my responsibility. That is clearly stated in the Senate Bill for all to read.”
However, Rucker continues to say that the commission’s recommendation was not delivered to the remaining board members until last week.
Regardless of the process, Rucker said the commission has been treated poorly.
“I know we want to sit around the table and say ‘county, county, county’…but I am not worried about the county right now,” Rucker said. “It is a shame that we are not taking care of parks and recreation financially.”
Rucker said the city council can’t merely sit around “like little kids.” Regardless of race, he added that the children are not getting what they deserve from the program.
“That is why I voted ‘no’ on the fireworks,” Rucker said. “That money could have been used for parks and recreation. Nobody can change how I feel. I am not playing politics or playing on anyone’s emotions. But I want to apologize on behalf of myself that (parks and recreation) do not get what they are supposed to. They have never suffered like they do now. Going from one month to the next, not knowing how you are going to operate…if I could give more money…I would.”
Rucker said the firework celebration held by the city of Yazoo City over the New Year’s Eve holiday ran from $7,000 to $10,000 for the single show. He said the Fourth of July celebrations are much higher. He added that he is not against “pleasure,” but with many of the struggles he said the city is facing with infrastructure and other concerns, the money could have been spent more wisely.
Alderwoman Elizabeth Thomas said that although she has read the Senate Bill, she doesn’t understand why the commission cannot run on its own accord with no such approval from the governing authorities.
“I am under the assumption that when you appoint people (to the commission) …you put the best qualified person to represent and inform you,” Thomas said. “I don’t understand why once (the commission selects a new director), why do we have to come back and say ‘yea’ or ‘nay.’ If you have people who are qualified, they should know what fits.”
Delaware said it is nothing the board can do, adding that it is state law.