Mayor Diane Delaware and I may not always agree on everything, but I believe she is 100 percent correct that the city needs to select individuals to serve on public boards based on their qualifications rather than friendships or popularity contests.
During Monday’s board meeting, Delaware stood alone and was the sole opposing vote in the reappointment of M.L. Coleman to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Board covers a variety of much-needed ordinances and regulations within our community. One of the most important current issues facing our city is addressing dilapidated properties within the city limits.
I am baffled as to why Coleman was reappointed to this board, considering he is the owner of a dilapidated property that is a complete eyesore. I even tried to give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps the property was sold and he was no longer the owner. But a quick call to the county tax assessor’s office proved that he was still very much the owner of 721 E. Seventh Street.
We featured the property in a December article in The Yazoo Herald. Coleman’s property was one of 15 properties that were to be brought up to code within 30 days. He claimed that he needed more time to bring the property up to code because the winter months prevented him from doing so.
Well, it’s six months later and winter has come and gone. The property remains an eyesore.
The roof on the home is sagging inward toward an inevitable collapse, and the rotting boards supporting the front porch don’t look like they will be up to the task much longer.
Delaware even made note to the remaining members of the city council that Coleman was the owner of dilapidated properties within the community. But that did not sway their votes.
This is nothing personal against Coleman. He seems like a very nice guy, and he has a good reputation in the community, but those things don’t make him a good candidate to serve on this board. I hate to single Coleman out, but the idea that city leaders would willingly appoint a person who does not even follow the same rules he is appointed to enforce is truly baffling.
It is time for the community leaders to start appointing and hiring people who truly deserve the posts they are representing. Stop placing people who are not qualified in positions simply because they are close friends or someone who helped secure votes during an election. Look at a person’s qualifications and desire to truly do the jobs that are asked of them.
Placing unqualified people in positions is not a new thing, and it certainly did not start with our city’s current administration. When I first arrived at The Herald over a decade ago, my jaw hit the floor when one city employee told me city leaders “had created a job” for him simply because he put city candidates’ political signs in his yard during election year and supported their campaigns. The gravy train eventually came to an end, and his “created” position was no longer available when some of his friends lost their elections.
I’ve also seen meetings of other boards charged with important community tasks where some board members rarely bothered to show up for the meetings.
The bottom line is that if we want our community to move forward, city leaders have to consider who they are placing in the driver’s seat.
When it comes to unkempt properties and dilapidated homes, those eyesores can break a community. Who wants to live, work and invest in a community that looks like a third world country in some areas? So, why put a person who doesn’t even care enough about his own property to oversee what others do to theirs?
Let’s hope our elected officials remember that when they appoint or hire leaders within our community. If they forget, perhaps voters should remind them during the next election.