"A More Efficient City Council" by Politics Blog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Politics Blog

A More Efficient City Council

The Jackson City Council really got the ball rolling on its new term Monday afternoon by kicking the can on two important issues - the confirmation of Lumumba's selection of fire and police chief - not one week, but two weeks down the road.

Council President Charles Tillman, Ward 4, set a public hearing for Thursday, July 18, at 6:30 p.m. for citizens to come out and let their voices be heard on the appointment of Lindsey Horton and Willie Owens as police and fire chief, respectively. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba held a press conference to introduce the duo minutes before the council meeting began.

When asked by Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon, Ward 7, why the delay of a vote was necessary, Tillman said he was going to "be accommodating" to the council members who were not present who said they wanted to be a part of the process.

The two absent members were Quentin Whitwell, Ward 1, who was attending a Mississippi Bar Association Convention and LaRita Cooper-Stokes, Ward 3, who does not attend special meetings of the council on principle.

Tillman ended the meeting by saying he should have his committee appointments done by next week, at the latest, and said he's excited about how efficient this council is going to be.

The good news: Tillman approved Cooper-Stokes' seating arrangement proposal, and the council now sits in the correct order - from 1 to 7 – except seats 4 and 5 are flipped so the president can sit in the middle. (So the order is now 1-2-3-5-4-6-7.) Perhaps next, the council can get its priorities in order.

Comments

mpriesterjr 5 years, 2 months ago

Hi, I don't believe this blog post accurately reflects what happened at today's meeting. As to the hearing for the appointment of the fire chief and the police chief, saying that we are moving the confirmation hearing two weeks is wholly inaccurate. Late last week, the Mayor's office tentatively scheduled the confirmation hearings to happen on this Thursday, July 11 and the Mayor asked the council members to let his team know if July 11 worked to have a confirmation hearing. The representative for Ward 1 specifically asked us not to have it this Thursday because a prior commitment prevents him from being here this Thursday (it's my assumption he's at the Mississippi Bar's annual conference, but I'm not positive of that). The Mississippi Municipal League's annual conference is at the beginning of next week. Consequently, our next scheduled city council meeting is July 18, the day after the MML's annual conference concludes. So what we did was move the confirmation hearing from July 11 to July 18. That's one week back rather than two weeks as you say in this blog post. I, for one, think the appointment of a new police chief and fire chief is of such significant importance that we should do our best to let the representative of every ward attend and have a meaningful opportunity to vet these guys. (Plus, these men are serving on an interim basis already, so it's not like these positions are sitting unfilled). As to the committee assignments, Mr. Tillman explained that these would likely be ready in the next couple of days, no later than by our meeting next week. You omit how when the Mayor discussed his desire to pass something on to the budget committee, Mr. Tillman stated that Mr. Yarber would be chairing that committee and that it's composition was set. I'm not sure if you're aware that one of Mr. Tillman's grandsons passed away late last week. Despite that family crisis, Mr. Tillman got the bulk of the work done on committee assignments while getting the mayor's office to agree to make his nominees for police chief and fire chief available to the council for one-on-one meetings.

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justjess 5 years, 2 months ago

@Tyler Cleveland

"The good news: Tillman approved Cooper-Stokes' seating arrangement assignment......."

Is this really good news? Who cares about where on the council these seven (7) folks sit? This is soooo juvinile and unimportant. Cooper-Stokes thought that she should have her spouse's seat from the very beginning.

The bad news: This community has elected a Mayor and Seven (7) Council Persons to represent the City of Jackson. The Mayor has made his choice for the positions of Chief of Police and Fire Chief. It should be the responsibility of the Council to "VETT" these two men - not the city-at-large.

It was reported in the JFP that they, along with other media outlets received an e-mail stating that Mr. Owens (Lumumba's Appointed Fire Chief) was charged with stealing a car and was placed on administrative leave and that he failed a very important exam. According to Mayor Lumumba, he emphatically states that "The past is the past" and that he knows all about Mr. Owen's past, but, he is unwilling to consider those issues. He further stated that he has known Owens for 8 years. My point is, why invite the community to a ball game that has already been played and the winners have been announced?

Please, let's get focused and get on track!

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mpriesterjr 5 years, 2 months ago

Tyler, Looking back over this blog post again, I think it's also important to clarify for the public that the agenda item during Monday's meeting wasn't for actually having a vote and hearing on the nominations. The agenda item during Monday's meeting was strictly the point in the parliamentary process where the council, as a board, was supposed to officially announce for the public the date on which the actual hearing is supposed to take place. The way this is written makes it seem as though we were scheduled to have the hearing yesterday (Monday, July 8) and we moved it in part because Mrs. Cooper-Stokes was not present on Monday and she, as you put it, "does not attend special meetings of the council on principle."

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mpriesterjr 5 years, 2 months ago

Lastly, even if, worst case scenario, committee assignments were not finalized and released until next week's meeting on July 18, that would still put us ahead of pace from last year, when committee assignments were set on August 1. (see http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/... from Aug. 3, 2012).

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Tyler, people's assemblies are a hallmark of socialism. Unfortunately too many folks misuse the term "socialist" and think that mere social programs or liberalism connotes socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why the news media in Jackson is not covering Lumumba's genuinely socialist/Marxist ideology is beyond me. That is far, far more newsworthy -- and critically important -- than any of the racial topics that have been covered. So, it's no surprise that the City Council under his "leadership" is eschewing its duties in terms of representative democracy, and going straight for the direct democracy that socialism advocates. THAT is the story that the local media is missing. And I suspect the vast majority of the local population -- black and white, if that matters -- has no idea that that is the model -- the socialist one -- that he's bringing to City Hall. And he's smart enough to capitalize on that ignorance and make sure he steers clear of the terms "socialism" and "Marxism." Very, very sad. An uninformed populace is a doomed one.

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Tyler, correction on my part: I meant to say general assemblies are a hallmark of socialism, not "people's" assemblies. Keep up the good work.

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donnaladd 5 years, 2 months ago

Robin, the JFP has talked about Lumumba's potential socialism, and I am surprised that it has gotten so little attention otherwise. (Maybe not, considering how few folks seem to know what it actually means!) Todd and I are decidedly not socialists and thus the ambiguity of the Jackson Plan on this point gave us serious pause: one of the reasons we didn't endorse him.

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Apologies, Donna. I haven't had the pleasure of following the JFP, but I plan to. I think it's obvious the CL is too insecure and inhibited about being too "hard" on Lumumba and is certainly not going to delve into his socialist ideology, or, on the other hand, they're ignorant of his true politics. Very sad. Keep up the good work. It's sorely needed. If the people are uninformed of who and what their "leaders" truly are, then liberty, true representative democracy, freedom and progress are at risk.

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donnaladd 5 years, 2 months ago

Councilman Priester, thx for posting another perspective on the meeting. You're welcome here any time.

While you're here, I wonder if you would address sheriff spokesman Othor Cain's public allegations about your residency as well?

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tyler.cleveland 5 years, 2 months ago

First of all, thanks for reading! First, Justjess, that statement about Mrs. Cooper-Stokes seating arrangement was tongue-in-cheek, not meant to be taken seriously, but to underline the ridiculous nature of that "problem." Second, Mayor Lumumba has made it clear from the start of his campaign that the people would be more involved in the decision-making process, so when he holds public hearings for citizens to voice their opinions, don't be surprised. We have followed up with Mr. Lumumba about Owens checkered past, and I think if it was going to sway his decision to appoint Mr. Owens, it would have by now.

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tyler.cleveland 5 years, 2 months ago

Second, to Mr. Priester. Let me start by saying I have a lot of respect for you and the office you hold. The approval of Mr. Lumumba's choice for fire and police chief was on the agenda yesterday, whether it was supposed to be there or not. When Mr. Tillman rescheduled that hearing for July 18, that is 10 days past the original date it was set to be voted on. The next council meeting after that date is July 22, and the next regular meeting is July 30.

If the two men are confirmed at the special meeting, it will have been 14 days exactly. If the council waits until the regular meeting on July 30, it will have been 22 days. If, as Mr. Tillman says, he is waiting on Mrs. Cooper-Stokes and Mr. Whitwell to show up to take a vote, it will be July 30, because, as you know, Mrs. Cooper-Stokes doesn't come to special meetings. I understand that you and your council colleagues have lives outside of this job, but the business of the city has been on hold for some time now because of elections. In the last city council meeting for Mayor Johnson, several of his items were shelved, many involving the consent decree from the EPA. Those issues, even by Mr. Lumumba's own admission, must be addressed, and quickly. Besides that, Ward 7 has been without representation on the school board for over a month, and we have citizens literally swiping city supplies and driving around filling potholes in their spare time. It is my opinion, and the opinion of this newspaper, that if City Council members want to be involved in decisions, they should be there when the decisions are scheduled to be made.

I did not know about Mr. Tillman's grandchild. That is something no one should have to go through, and he's a bigger man than I for not explaining why he has been slow with committee decisions. You'll notice in the blog post does not infer any negativity towards Mr. Tillman, as I understand these things take time. I did note, however, that the two-week (or 10 days, if that is more pleasing to the ears) delay on the confirmation hearing flies in the face of what he said about his excitement over an efficient council.

This was the proverbial "first item on the agenda" so-to-speak, and it was delayed for two councilmen who didn't show up to work. We all have high hopes for this council and mayor, but don't be surprised when we get irritated when developments are slow, especially right out of the gate.

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tyler.cleveland 5 years, 2 months ago

And perhaps irritated is not the pertinent word. Discouraged is a better adjective.

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donnaladd 5 years, 2 months ago

It also bears noting that these weren't just JFP concerns. councilwoman Barrett-Simon voiced them as well.

And Tyler is right: Expect the JFP to be vigilant about delays by the council and the mayor. We are very concerned about a propensity toward tardiness due to Lumumba's very late campaign reports -- one of the reasons we did not endorse him.

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

"...Expect the JFP to be vigilant ..."

Good! I don't think anybody else in the local media there will be. I think the CL is scared to death somebody is going to construe its editorial stance as racist if it dares to do its job in the adversarial way that's required of the press. A vigilant press is democracy's watchdog.

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mpriesterjr 5 years, 2 months ago

Tyler, Again, You are simply wrong when you state that the council was scheduled to vote yesterday on Mayor Lumumba's nominations for police chief and fire chief. The Mayor requested late last week that we tentatively schedule the hearings for July 11. That is why you'll see on my official facebook page an entry dated July 5, 2013 that states, "Public hearings for Mayor Lumumba's picks for Fire Chief and Police Chief are tentatively scheduled to be next Thursday, July 11 at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall. I ask you to attend and give your opinion." I don't purport to speak for Councilwoman Barrett-Simon, but I don't believe that she expected us to vote to confirm yesterday. I just think she hadn't had a chance to read the email traffic from Monday afternoon where we were trying to accomodate for a member who had a previous commitment and consequently I took Councilwoman Barret-Simon as expressing surprise we were moving it from July 11 to July 18. The counsel isn't here to ruberstamp Mr. Lumumba's nominations or anything he does. Tyler, you saw how during the meeting he gave us the resumes for his candidates in chambers July 8. Do you really think he would just be giving us the resume's right that minute if the expectation was we were to vote at that meeting? Even if he did do something that bold, I think it's wise stewardship not to vote on a confirmation five minutes after you get a copy of the candidate's resume. The way agenda's get written can be obtuse, I hear you, but we were not scheduled to vote on July 8. So the timeline is this: Mr. Lumumba first said he wanted these people on July 1 at the inauguration. We are now confirmed to have the hearing on July 18 (regardless of who shows up then, we are voting). Seventeen days from announcing a candidate to voting on a candidate seems like a reasonable and efficient amount of time for the council to do do the sort of real vetting that I believe two of the most important positions in city government require. So far I've met with rank and file police officers (current and retired), rank and file fire officers (current and retired), I'm in the hunt for independent verification for documents that have been posted regarding the Fire Chief nomination, I've met with the nominees, and I am setting up meetings with current command staff. I know other members have taken similar steps. I hope the forgoing is sufficient explanation for why I believe that your blog post is predicated on an error and why I believe the council is working at both the speed and in the manner which I believe the citizens demand and are owed. With regards to committee assignments, I think the definition of efficiency is getting something done by mid July which took your predecessor until the beginning of August to finish.

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Focus on what's important, Mr. Priester! The agendas of the council meetings are the least of your worries. You've got a mayor who has dissed the American and Constitutionally-sanctioned system of representative government and espoused a socialist/Marxist one. And, he's playing on your ignorance of that fact! Don't you get it? Aren't you smart enough to realize this? I personally think so, but apparently you don't. Geezus, wake up! What's happened to this city? If I'm a liberal Democrat who's pointing this stuff out, don't you think that counts for something if labels and allegiances mean so much to insecure "liberals" in the South? God, what's happened to y'all?

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robin2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Challenge your mayor on his literal socialist agenda, Mr. Priester, and then we can talk. His socialist/Marxist ideology is well documented. I'm a very liberal Democrat (native Mississippian, now Californian for 20 years), but last I heard, local municipalities are still part of this union, under which the 14th Amendment incorporated the First and others. So explain how Mr. Lumumba's propensity to direct democracy overrides the city's charter for representive democracy. Thanks.

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mpriesterjr 5 years, 2 months ago

Donna, if Mr. Cain has made public allegations about my residency, that 's news to me (when it comes to Sunday afternoon radio, I'm more of a True Soul Cafe / Rev. CJ Rhodes Show fella myself). From what I see he wrote on Facebook, though, I was under the impression that he hasn't said anything about my residency. I'm not friends with Mr. Cain on facebook so, this is just what I see that he wrote on other people's comments: "let's be very clear I never said Priester didn't live in the ward" and "Never was it said on my show that Priester didn't live in Ward 2." Since he says he hasn't made any allegations about my residency I'm at a loss as to what to say other than, generally, I meet the legal residency requirements for my position, my residency status was reviewed at the time I was certified to run for the position and I was allowed to run because I did at the time and I do right now meet the residency requirements for the position.

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donnaladd 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't listen to the show either. But it is going around Facebook that he said you live in Ward 7. You deserve the chance to quickly respond. People love to spread stuff without asking the target.

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SusanM 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Priester: I'm impressed that you read JFP and that you came here and responded both to the original post and to Donna's question about residency rumors. I look forward to hearing more from you here and in other forums, particularly City Council meetings.

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