Transparency, good communication, access to information, assurances, being proactive—these are a few traits I'm sure citizens expect out of those who hold leadership positions. Whether elected or appointed, a certain level of responsibility comes with certain positions.
However, when citizens aren't informed, when they are ignorant to things that will affect their lives, all of us can expect backlash. You can expect anger, quite frankly. And after the anger, you can expect them to begin crafting their own narratives. That, of course, allows for agendas, hyperbole and outright propaganda. So, you would think that anyone in a power position would do their level best to avoid those problems. Right?
In Jackson, it appears, not so much. Recent troubles include the Jackson Public Schools board and its surprise rezoning plan, and City Hall and its overtime troubles. In my opinion, the Jackson Police Department has made public relations missteps that have citizens scratching their collective heads.
Emotions ran high at a recent JPS board meeting because parents, myself included, had no idea that the board was considering any rezoning for next year. I found out because my stepson overheard his coaches' conversation a few days ago. Now it seems that JPS board is feverishly trying to get the stink back in the horse.
And while I still believe that this city is safe—very safe—some recent shootings have folks on edge. People have a perception of lawlessness in Jackson; yet, we don't hear enough to counter that perception from our mayor or from police officials.
Now, will regular statements about crime-fighting efforts curb crime? By themselves? Of course not. Do officials "have" to make statements to the public? Absolutely not. However, in the interest of transparency, communication and assurance, I want to at least "feel" like those who lead me have control of the situation. And it's all about perception, right?
If I could give any advice to City Hall, JPD or the JPS school board, I would say this: In the future, regardless of how cumbersome it is, regardless of how unnecessary or inconvenient it may seem, citizens need information. We deserve communication from you. We expect to hear from you before or while things are happening. Not afterward, when you're forced to tell us. This makes us feel at ease and more confident in your leadership.
Right now, it seems as if you guys think you're smarter or more educated than we are, thus making our opinions or concerns irrelevant. That never makes for a healthy climate to find solutions.
And that's the truth ... shonuff.